Photo courtesy of Duran Castro
When you think of Los Angeles, you immediately visualize its neighboring city and the glamour and glitz of what is classic Hollywood; the wealthy spending money on nice cars, million dollar homes, name brand clothing, and so forth. To a degree, your visions are on point because let’s face it, that’s what some of us digest from certain magazines on a daily. You can also congratulate the geniuses behind reality television for brainwashing us so that we start to really believe that that’s all there is. I mean, when you’re sitting there watching The Kardashians or Desperate Housewives of Orange County, you can’t help to judge, right? Well, I hate to disappoint you, but the city is much more than that. And yes I understand Orange County is not L.A.
In order to grasp the true authenticity of Los Angeles (SoCal in general) you have to really live in it as I have for the past two years and embrace yourself with the right company. A lot of us come to L.A. for “better opportunities” with dreams of making it “big”, but take a look around, you are depriving yourself of what the city can really offer and that’s diversity, culture, and an abundance of very talented musicians–Jungle Fire embodies all of that and then some. With a new album out on Nacional Records titled, “Tropicoso” the Los Angeles-based band reintroduces 70’s inspired Modern Soul and Afro-Latin Funk like you’ve never heard it before. Tracks like “Tokuta“, “Firewalker”, and “Chalupa” (just to name a few) when performed live, is vibrant and colossal like a tsunami wave hitting your eardrums; a surround sound experience that can only be delivered by quality musicians playing real live instruments.
The band has already toured the U.K. which included a live interview on the Craig Charles Funk and Soul Show on BBC 6 Radio and Gilles Peterson made “Tropicoso” album of the week on his Japan interFM radio show. JF recently showcased a set at the Mompox Jazz Festival in Mompox, Colombia which had a huge impact on all of its members; a memorable trip that gave them the opportunity to teach and learn from the young locals. Jungle Fire’s influences range from James Brown, Fela Kuti, and countless others incorporating a cornucopia of Afro-Cuban rhythms, classic break-beats, and tropical cumbia sounds that are all layered together to form a unique Los Angeles grit. The JF ensemble consist of veteran musicians such as, Michael Duffy (Timbales), Steve Haney (Congas, Bongos, Shekere), Sam Halterman (Drums), Joey Reina (Bass), Otto Granillo (Trombone), Alberto Lopez (Timbales and Bongos), Judson McDaniel (Guitar), Patrick Bailey (Guitar), Sean Billings (Trumpet), and David Moyer (Baritone Sax and Flute).
Jungle Fire just wrapped up a new musical short film for the track, “Firewalker” that will be dropping soon and they will be performing at this weekend’s Supersonico Music Festival on Saturday, October 11, at the legendary Shrine Expo Hall & Grounds in Los Angeles along with a collective of other extraordinary Latin Funk and Soul bands including Cafe Tacvba, Calle 13, Nortec and many others. I was able to get up close & personal with JF band-mates Steve Haney, Joey Reina and Judson McDaniel in my following interview.