Fatal Mambo

Creation date : 1989
Country : France
Language : French
Style of music : Chanson
Members : Patrick Brouard, Jean François Hammel, Sonia Sala, Mathieu Vapeur, José Vicente

The members of Fatal Mambo, who all hail from Montpellier in the South of France, have been playing together since 1989. United by their common love of Latino rhythms and Afro-Cuban music, the foursome got together to invent their own wildly rhythmic sound, originally performing under the name Tabasco. Jean-François Hammel aka "Oscar" (lead singer and songwriter), Patrick Brouard (on congas), José Vicente (on guitar) and Mathieu Vapeur (the group’s pianist) spent the next three years playing gigs across the country. Their first touring schedule included over 300 dates!

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The members of Fatal Mambo, who all hail from Montpellier in the South of France, have been playing together since 1989. United by their common love of Latino rhythms and Afro-Cuban music, the foursome got together to invent their own wildly rhythmic sound, originally performing under the name Tabasco. Jean-François Hammel aka "Oscar" (lead singer and songwriter), Patrick Brouard (on congas), José Vicente (on guitar) and Mathieu Vapeur (the group’s pianist) spent the next three years playing gigs across the country. Their first touring schedule included over 300 dates!

After gaining valuable experience on the live circuit, the group took on a female vocalist (Sonia Sala) and changed their name to Fatal Mambo. (Jean-François claimed he got the inspiration for the group’s new name when he went to see the legendary Puertorican percussionist Tito Puente, the Mambo King, perform in Paris).

Creating a melting-pot of musical styles, Fatal Mambo fused salsa, mambo, merengue and other Latino rhythms with a Southern French touch. They dubbed their new sound ‘salsaïoli’ (a fusion of salsa and the famous Provencal sauce ‘aïoli’).

The group’s début album "Malediccion", released on the Blue Silver label in 1993, soon put Fatal Mambo’s distinctive style firmly on the map. While the group’s music was inspired by the wild dance rhythms of Latin America, their songwriting remained resolutely French, recounting daily life in the Deep South with enormous wit and humour. The outstanding tracks on the first album included "L'apéro" (a song about the French tradition of the apéritif hour), "Les Affaires" (Fatal Mambo’s take on the business world) and the hit single "La tête à Gaston" (a forceful indictment of racism).

Fatal Mambo soon proved a great success at music festivals across the country and the group went on to give memorable performances at "Francofolies" and "Le Printemps de Bourges". Fatal Mambo were even invited to support the legendary Cuban salsa star Celia Cruz on her French tour.

Meanwhile Fatal Mambo’s album "Malediccion" was doing extremely well in the charts. Indeed it eventually went on to sell 25,000 copies. Encouraged by this first success, the group went back into the studio in 96 to record a second album. "Rumbagitation" featured even wilder rhythms and crazier lyrics than "Malediccion", Sonia Sala’s powerful vocals soaring above frenetic Latino beats while Oscar’s rich bass pounded along beneath like an unchained fury. "Rumbagitation" revealed a wide diversity of musical influences - Spanish rhythms infusing the hit single "Ma boussole", Middle Eastern music weaving beneath Sonia’s vocals on "La médina" and a massive brass section going wild on "Je t'en ai pas parlé".

Following in the successful footsteps of Dario Moreno, Boby Lapointe and the renowned Orchestre du Splendid, Fatal Mambo’s vibrant sound has injected the French music scene with new energy and vigour.

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