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A fresh take on salsa and Latin jazz from Seattle band Eléré

Seven people pose in front of a brick wall.
William Muñoz
Eléré Salsa
Seattle's Eléré salsa band.

Focusing on original music and arrangements, the young band is ready to update the salsa sound of the Pacific Northwest.

Formed in late 2019, just before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down music venues and more, the members of Eléré are now ready to release their new music.

Eléré is the Yoruba word for orchestra, specifically musical groups in spiritual or ceremonial settings.

The musicians of Eléré "seek to honor their name with uplifting sounds that bring out the best of people in a vibrant and dynamic community, and bring about positive transformation in our inner and outer worlds," according to their website.

There's a lot going on in that statement, but the energy radiating from the heart of the band is sincere.

Eléré's founder, percussionist and vocalist Daniel Mendoza, along with musical director, guitarist and cuatro player Carlos Snaider and bassist Kelsey Mines are the core of the group, to which they add horns and more percussion.

All three are writing original music, and bringing their varied backgrounds and influences to it. Mendoza has Mexican roots, Snaider is Puerto Rican.

"My overall philosophy with music is community," Mendoza said in an interview with KNKX.

"Using music to bring people together, whether it's the musicians playing together or whether it's people coming to listen to the music and enjoy or dance or however you want to express your joy in that music. I come from a family of musicians that actually did that. And I am very happy to be able to take part in it at this point in my life."

"We are kind of students of the music and on the one hand, really want to revere and venerate and respect everything that we're tapping into," Snaider said.

"But we're also drawing from our varied influences. Kelsey and I have another project which is more like a modern jazz singer-songwriter project, and Kelsey has a classical music background. Our horn players play in funk bands and all sorts of stuff. So we're not we're not full-on exclusively salsa, and we embrace that part of of us."

Snaider said the composing process led them to re-imagine salsa and come into their own sound, with a different perspective.

"I think that what's authentic about what we do is that we're just staying really true to ourselves and our own varied backgrounds," Mines added.

She said they are always considering what they can do with their skills and how to bring their own ethic to the music. It's an experience of blending what they offer as individuals and sharing that with the broader community.

Embracing those traditional influences, as well as modern jazz and Timba, Eléré recorded three singles in 2020. They released "Subrayte" first as a video in 2021, and the studio version last week.

Two more singles will be released soon. The 3-song EP will come out and be celebrated at the Royal Room on March 3, when Eléré presents "Salsa, Son Y Sabor" with their guests, Cuban band SuperSones.

Listen for the fresh sound of Eléré this week on Jazz Caliente.

Jazz Caliente airs Saturdays at 5 p.m. The show is hosted by Robin Lloyd and produced by KNKX Public Radio.

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Originally from Detroit, Robin Lloyd has been presenting jazz, blues and Latin jazz on public radio for nearly 40 years. She's a member of the Jazz Education Network and the Jazz Journalists Association.