Mambo Jambo perform at the Peel Centenary Centre.
” ‘We have performed in Brazil, deepest Borneo, Cuba, and now . . . Peel.’
Pete Jack and Frankie Banham are Mambo Jambo – multi-instrumental storytellers who deliver a set list that twists and turns through continents, tempos and styles.
This reviewer counted no fewer than 13 instruments on stage – there could well have been more – as Pete and Frankie coaxed melodies from vessels orthodox and obscure, from clarinets and banjos to a custom-made ‘English tres’. For the opening song Pete invited the capacity audience to ‘imagine it is a foggy morning on the Mississippi’ as they launched into a New Orleans carnival tune, before changing pace and mood with a swaying Congolese rumba. By the third song – the story of a laid back Havana shopkeeper delivered through the foot-tapping medium of cha cha cha – Mambo Jambo were clearly having a great time.
Despite jumping from style to style, it all felt authentic, they came across like well-travelled and dedicated students of each discipline. The vocal harmonies were tight, and the virtuosic performances – particularly from Frankie on the clarinet and saxophone – never stopped being impressive.
The set touched on bluegrass, moody Breton folk, Brazilian samba, Romanian gypsy folk and a quirky Trinidadian calypso called Zombie Jamboree. The highlight of the night was the ‘Peel Gumbo’, an ad-libbed musical journey through Manx cuisine. Queenies, kippers, loaghtan lamb and mushroom ice cream all had a mention and earned cheers from the crowd, but it was the ‘chips cheese and gravy gumbo’ that really raised the roof. ‘It might get a bit soggy,’ sang Pete. ‘But chips cheese and gravy is funky; I could get down to that all night!’
For closing track Blue Moon of Kentucky, Frankie politely invited the audience to howl along, ‘but please howl in the key of G!’
The people of Peel howled with gusto, and went home thoroughly entertained.”
Published on 29 June 2012 ‘Isle Of Man Today’