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Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Party Time: Grupo Fantasma Wants Their Money

Written by Washington Post Express contributor Alfredo Flores
Photo courtesy Crawford Morgan

GRUPO FANTASMA JUST may have the answer to your recession blues: If you don't have money, ask your audience to pay up. At least that's a concept the Austin, Texas-bred 10-piece Latin orchestra — maestros of funk, soul, salsa, psychedelia — suggest in its latest single,"Gimme Some ." "In this economic situation, it's a very poignant theme," says Fantasma bassist Greg Gonzalez."People respond to it because it's really about working hard, getting what you deserve — plus, it's got the hook." It's that hook that's given the band, recently nominated for a Grammy for best Latin rock album for"Sonidos Gold," its first radio hit. Grupo's ringing endorsement from soul-master Prince (opening for him/playing his Vegas club/performing with him on"The Tonight Show") gave it international exposure. Its purple connection linked the band up with his legendary saxophonist, Maceo Parker (he of James Brown fame), who rocks out in this furious jam session. "It's got a funky cha-cha feel," notes Gonzalez." It's a very popular song style, traditionally, a tongue-and-cheek humorous song." Traditional Latin is something Fantasma has been putting its own twist on for the past nine years. Originally a rock and funk party band doing covers of Metallica, Wings, even Cheech and Chong in local clubs, Grupo has come a long way in adapting Latin sounds into its repertoire, now doing odes to classic Afro-Cuban jazz ("Bacalao con Pan") and Disco Fuentes, Colombia's answer to Motown, with the chart-dominating cumbia ("Cumbia de los Pajaritos"). "Ultimately, we plan to be categorically ambiguous," says Gonzalez."We heard this big band sound we fell in love with it and we try to emulate it and re-create it in our own way. This album represents a lot of the different styles we're capable of playing musically." » Black Cat, 1811 14th St. NW;Fri., 9 p.m., $15; 202-667-4490. (U St.-Cardozo)

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