Malamanya: A little bit of everything Latin, up north

Local salsa gurus Malamanya return home to St. Paul.

Spencer Doar

The world is a changing place, and Malamanya, a 4-year-old salsa, samba and Cuban son sextet, is living proof of that.

Singer Adriana Rimpel is Mexican and Haitian, timbales player Jesse Marks is a Lithuanian Jew and percussionist Luis Ortega is Panamanian and Puerto Rican — and that’s only half the band.

 “This is a sign of the times,” Rimpel said.  “Twenty years ago, we may not have been around.”

Nobody in the group is from Cuba, the country most associated with the pan-Caribbean rhythms they have proved so adept at performing.

While the band represents an eddy, the meeting of multiple Latin musical currents, they try to do justice to the roots, those eponymous giants associated with the sizzling origins, the Tito Puente’s  of the world. 

With its cast of Minnesotans, Malamanya manages to make the sea breeze gust and the sweat pour in a land of 10,000 lakes and abbreviated summers.  The band members have come to appreciate winter hibernation as a time to work on new material and refresh themselves after busy summers.

Malamanya is one of many salsa bands in the area, but its global citizenship (and a lead singer who’s eloquent in Spanish and English) aids in its exposure. 

“We can be a bit insular, you find a community and you stay amongst it,” Rimpel said.  “I think, since we’re from a community-building background, we’re able to broach or be a bridge to our community.” 

The truth and power in her words are evident when non-Spanish speakers feel the emotion conveyed by Malamanya and reflect it in dance, an inextricable aspect of its music.

 

What:  Malamanya

When: 8 p.m. Friday

Where: Amsterdam Bar and Hall, 6 W. Sixth St., St. Paul

Cost: $8

Age: 21+