Sergio Mendoza Y La Orkesta: the Modern Mambo

Tucson-based Latin band, Sergio Mendoza y La Orkesta brings a new generation of expansive sound to Mambo. Forming in 2009, Y La Orkesta is full of high-energy music as they combine various sounds from the different bands the members play in and influences. Bandleader, Sergio Mendoza pilots the band through their swift melodies and rhythms. After the release of their debut album, Mambo Mexicano in 2012, Y La Orkesta has been on a seemingly continuous tour, playing with a variety of musicians and bands.

With a first connection with music being the Beatles’ Meet The Beatles at the age of four, Mendoza soon started to play the keyboard at the age of five and thus began his eagerness to become a musician. Picking up the clarinet, saxophone, and eventually the guitar and drums in middle school, Mendoza broadened his abilities as a musician, allowing him to eventually become the verse composer and arranger he is now. As Mendoza pursued college and his musical career in Tucson, he began playing with the band Calexico and soon began playing full-time with the band, putting school off until “things slowed down,” thus never returning since.

In being in such a large band, it can be difficult, both financially and spaciously, to travel and tour but this never stopped Mendoza from forming Y La Orkesta. Mendoza expresses that he could have never been a solo act and says he enjoys the different sounds that the diverse members bring in. “I always saw my talent as a person who can arrange a song and get people together,” says Mendoza.

“I want to create a new sound, and I think I’m on my way to finding it, but I’m not there yet,” Mendoza said. “And I think it’s developing for sure.” As the band continues to diversify and continue recording, the sound will continue to develop and expand. Mendoza also states that he expects to release the sophomore Y La Orkesta album in February of 2015 as twenty-two songs have been written as of June.

With the opportunity to bring in a variety musicians into their sound both on stage and in the studio, Sergio Mendoza Y La Orkesta maintains a unique sound with the confident percussion and horn sections or the baritone vocals of Salvador Duran. The stage presence of the band is captivating as each musician begins to get into their own world making performances energetic and crowd-pleasing. Having always been in bands with a horn section, Mendoza makes them one of the essential part of his sound, with strong harmonies and various solos.

“I really like [it] when if I go see a concert, when the artist comes out and you can ask them a couple of questions or just say ‘I really like what you did here’ and ‘what kind of gear are you using?'” Mendoza said about his interactions after shows with fans. “It’s something to make you feel a little more connected.”

Using a blend of different genres in their sound, Sergio Mendoza Y La Orkesta have always maintained that unique characteristic to them. Their next show is at the Rialto theater in Tucson, Arizona, on Friday, June 27, playing at the CD release of Ro Velazquez’s debut.