Livestream Review: Mento Buru

Livestream Bakersfield, CA

Contact: Matt Munoz, mentoburu@yahoo.com

Web: linktr.ee/mentoburu

Players: Matt Munoz, lead vocals, tenor saxophone, timbales; Sal Galindo, guitar, backing vocals; Caleb Moore, bass; Cesareo Garasa , drums, backing vocals; Jay Smith, keyboards; Paul Perez, tenor saxophone; Justin Kirk, trombone; Brent Williams, trumpet; Marcos Reyes, percussion (congas and bongos)

Material: As the closing act to the Livestream Vaccine concert series at the Bakersfield Fox Theatre, local favorite and consummate bundle of energy, Mento Buru, did not disappoint. From the first sounds of opener “Double Jeopardy, to the Peter Tosh reggae tribute “Steppin Razor––along with covers by Celia Cruz, Willie Colon, Vicente Fernandez and Oingo Boingo––the show moved nonstop. Also included were new songs, “On My Own and “Matame.

Musicianship: Sal Galindo (guitar) and Cesareo Garasa (drums) provided smooth backing vocals on Para No Verte Mas and Pachito Eche, the latter including Marcos Reyes’ percussive leads for perfect samba bounce. Fireball Jay Smith added synth on Steppin Razor and Matador, the latter opening with an energetic drumline akin to Paul Simon’s Graceland with Munoz’ energetic timbale solo. Smith’s keys in On My Own deliver a magical tropical sway with gentle punctuation from the horns, and signature Move It Girl featured Reyes’ conga, horn solis, and a falsetto solo and cheeky punctuation from Paul Perez on tenor sax. A fabulous conga and cowbell intro layered with drum kit and timbale on Cumbia Olvido left Havana-dancefloor vibes alongside scat sounds and gritos from Munoz, while salsas, La Murga and Matame delivered percussive energy.

Performance: Showcasing their trademark blend of ska, rock, funk, jazz and Latin flavors, Mento Buru performed a danceable 12-song set. The engaging persona of frontman Munoz, with his animated gestures and delivery, created a relaxed, fun atmosphere. The overall musical chops cannot be understated as this band makes it all look and feel easy and natural, despite intensely choreographed rhythms and notation.

Summary: With a clear rapport between seasoned players and a commitment to great sound, strong  harmonies and solid positive vibes, the motivation behind Mento Buru’s dedicated followers is obvious. Combining some of Bakersfield’s best musicians since 1992, Mento Buru’s sound and delivery felt like a combination of The Barenaked Ladies and Santana, with traditional Latin and big band nods incorporated throughout, solidifying their place as a talented an eclectic Latin party band.