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Monday, April 25, 2011

Marco Mendoza – Casa Mendoza album review

Marco Mendoza – Casa Mendoza album review
Released on: Mascot Records. Release date: Available now.

Marco Mendoza has in recent years, been a guy very much in demand. As well as having his own home grown jazz rock trio that regularly appears – When he’s not touring with other acts! – in Hollywood, CA at the Baked Potato club, he’s been a big part of many big name rock acts touring plans. Whitesnake, Ted Nugent and Thin Lizzy to name just three, have called on the man on more than one occasion in each case. Also in case you didn’t know, he was a part of the Blue Murder project that also featured John Sykes (Whitesnake, Thin Lizzy, Tygers of Pan Tang) and Carmine Appice (You name it! He’s played with everyone that’s anyone!) as well as Soul SirkUS that featured Neal Schon, Jeff Scott Soto and Virgil Donati.

So, there’s a little background and by the way, if you do ever show up at the Baked Potato to see the guy play, you may find yourself sitting or standing next to people like David Coverdale or Steve Lukather, just to name two admirers of the guys' talent.

In 2007 Marco released ‘Live for Tomorrow’ that was an album that was just a little safer than this adventure, as he called in the likes of Ted Nugent, Steve Lukather, Ritchie Kotzen, Doug Aldrich, Tommy Aldridge, Steve Weingart and Briian Tichy as well, to help out and the songs on there, were perhaps a little more ‘associated’ with the big rock acts he’s played with.

So what does ‘Case Mendoza’ bring then, more rock …? In two words, not really …
I will say this though, that without a doubt this album totally showcases Marco’s phenomenal talent on the bass, it will also open your eyes to another player in guitarist Rafael ‘Hoffa(Rafa)' Moreira, who is simply a player that makes you say, ‘Wow!’
Think something like Steve Lukather meets John Sykes and you’ll perhaps be on the right track.
Yes really!
It’s an album that captures jazz, funk, soul, fusion and yeah, there’s rock in there, it’s just not immediately obvious.
Marco told me in an interview that we did not so long ago, that Mascot Records really wanted him to feel the freedom to just be Marco!

He said, “Yeah, well you know, the label wanted to come up with an idea that depicted that I’m going back to my roots right, I mean where I came from being Latino and having all these influences musically and the label gave me some freedom to move around.
So I took that as direction to kind of go for it … You don’t often get that kind of freedom from labels you know?”

Note: That full interview can be read here:

Opening with Marco’s take on Stevie Wonder’s ‘Living For The City’ he certainly gives it an interesting twist, that words can’t really describe, except perhaps, ‘funky man!’ You really have to hear it.

‘Trouble’ opens sounding like a big rock intro and then gets into a jazz fusion funk vibe, with some stunning guitar work, as I mentioned at the start from ‘Hoffa’ and then Marco’s bass is just everywhere and the man has a truly unique voice, if on this track a little like James Brown!
Steve Weingart and Hoffa really interplay off each other well here.

I could seriously rave about Hoffa’s playing on every track as he really impresses me.
That said, you really can't fault the playing of anyone here, in Steve Weingart (Keys), Joey Heredia (Drums) and of course the main man Marco on Bass / Vocals.

With ‘Suzy Q’ Marco once more takes the Dale Hawkins tune – Also covered by C.C.R. and the Rolling Stones to name a couple. – in a completely different direction. Some serious jazz rock / fusion here, with some soul thrown in for good measure!

Hoffa’s playing style, really reminds me of Lukather, it really does and I guess with the man jamming alongside Luke’s right hand man Weingart, it probably just helps to work it some more.

This album is so very far removed from the rock you’ll see Marco playing with the big name rock acts I mentioned at the start!

A soulful ballad in ‘You’ next, changes things a little. It’s a really nice track, really …

‘Circle of Life’ starts like a cross mix of hard rockin’ riffs and that offbeat jazz fusion sound too. It also brings back memories of some of Gary Moore’s (RIP) jazz rock dabbling.

A gentle start to ‘Kingdom of Paradise’ is misleading as little after a minute, it leaps at you going for the jugular, before then easing back down a little and then repeating this course throughout the track. Interesting piece …

‘Are You There’ sounds almost tribal as it starts and then takes a similar path to something that Glenn Hughes may do.
Soulful, funky and yet edgy too at times, check it out!

Funk rock is the name of the game with ‘Betty Joe’ next, before Faith (Happy Birthday song)’ acts as an interlude into ‘Crying Out,’ which is a beautiful soulful ballad.

‘Get Ready’ starts soulfully for its first half and then around the middle seems to rock out, before then easing back down.

Another interesting twist on a cover comes with Carol King’s ‘You Got A Friend,’ interesting more soulful take.
Bonus track ‘Tu’ closes the album as Marco sings in his own language an emotive tune, starting softly before picking up a big old Latin groove, which has been underlying in truth throughout.

So, a very different album for me to review, really not in keeping with what is generally covered at this site for sure, but an album that showcases Marco’s other side that you’ll not hear on the road with Thin Lizzy or Ted Nugent for sure.
There’s a hell of a lot of talent here and although it’s not ‘rock ‘n’ roll, it deserves praise.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Official website of Marco Mendoza:


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