It’s a tropical night. You hear the sound of congas and bongos, howling brass and a chorus of Spanish vocals. It’s a toe-tapping mambo: the cowbell is ringing and the bass is bouncing and while it’s a familiar sound, something seems different this time. San Lazaro are bringing original Latin music to the people from an unexpected corner of the world – Melbourne, Australia.
San Lazaro’s unique take on Latin music is a blend of old school New York Salsa and classic Cuban Son. Beyond that, it references everything from psych funk to roots reggae to Spaghetti Western film soundtracks. It’s raw, noisy and electric one moment and sweet and soulful the next. How did the continent of kangaroos and deserts come to contribute such arresting Spanish language songwriting and dazzling musicianship? “It’s all about Serendipity,” according to San Lazaro’s lead singer, Keko Viran. Serendipity is also, appropriately, the name of San Lazaro’s new five track vinyl EP.
Featuring musicians with backgrounds from Chile to India to Cuba to Outback Australia, San Lazaro is an all singing, all dancing tower of Babel. They cut their teeth on the standards of salsa and mambo, and are respectful inheritors of those traditions, but now stand alone as providers of a truly individual Latin sound.