Don't mess with a soprano  

Julia Child never served this

Sizzling, hot, spicy with an undercurrent of cool makes great salsa. Not the edible kind, the Major Mambo Latin Band kind.

Major Mambo isn’t an ordinary band. It’s four members with the combined musical experiences of generations. 

  • Tricia Dalgleish — piano/vocals
  • Maggie Ponzo Cotton — vocals/Latin percussion
  • Stephen Buck — bass
  • Trevor Salloum — Latin percussion/vocals

This foursome brings the sultry, sexy sounds of Latin America to Kelowna.

Great tasting salsa needs the finest ingredients, so does a great salsa sound. Trevor Salloum masterminded the spicy sound of Major Mambo over time. 

It grew out of Ritmo Caliente (Hot Rhythm), an instrumental group in Kelowna in the early 2000s, into the Major Mambo sound we know today. 

Founder Trevor started playing the drums early. 

“I had my first professional gig at 12, a New Year’s Eve party,” he said. “I played a kit (regular multi drum set) in those days.

“I discovered my first Cuban percussion set in the ’70s.”

He studied English and music at York University in Toronto, and started working immediately out of school. The more he worked as a drummer, the more disillusioned he became with the lifestyle.

“Late nights for an early riser didn’t work.” 

He became a naturopathic doctor instead: better hours. 

The humid and humanistic lure of Latin rhythms kept him involved playing locally. Today, retired from his medical practice, he teaches, plays, promotes, and books the band. 

What’s salsa without heat? 

Hot, hot, hot are the vocals from Maggie Ponzo Cotton. The hard-working co-owner of a house-cleaning business and mother by day, is a fiery singer by night. 

Major Mambo comes alive with her deep, beautifully expressive voice and vibrant personality. 

Mazatlan born, she married and moved to Kelowna.

She came to singing rather serendipitously. She met Trevor and Tricia through music lessons and was encouraged by Trevor to sing. 

“Singing is who we are,” Maggie said with a smile. “Mexicans sing all the time. Nothing is written down. We all are little parrots. We are very noisy and fun-loving. 

“My children can’t believe the change in me when I’m back home.”

A refreshing combination of classical Cuban Latin sounds with current pop music makes salsa so palatable to the Canadian audiences. 

Maggie brings the new pop/Latin music to the group for consideration.

When Maggie brings new songs, she gives them to Tricia Dalgleish.

Tricia started playing the piano when she was five. Although classically trained, at 15, she started playing by ear — hearing music and being able to reproduce it without it being written down. 

Blazing piano playing doesn’t happen overnight. It is an art. Tricia has it.

Born in Kamloops, she soon moved to Oyama, became an LPN, played on cruise ships, lived in Hawaii. While taking a course in Guatemala, she was introduced to the rhythms of Latin music. She never forgot them. 

She has had a love of both classical music and intoxicating Latin rhythms since. 

Don’t be fooled by her soft demeanour, she is sizzling on the keys. Tricia is a very quiet, but powerful leader, the organizer-music writer for the band. 

She plays by ear what Maggie brings, writes it down, and organizes it for the group. By having the music written, it enables the group to have guest artists join them. 

Major Mambo is solid, but fluid at the same time. They welcome guest artists.

“It just depends on whether we can pay them or not,” Stephen said with a chuckle.

To listen to Major Mambo is to want to dance. You can’t sit still. I know. I have experienced the driving pulse, the cool, cool pulsating bass playing of Stephen Buck. It’s all about the bass and Stephen is a dynamic player. 

Major Mambo is the only time you’ll hear him play bass though. He is a world-renowned artist on different instruments.

“I’m a woodwind doubler – equally proficient on the clarinet and sax,” he said.

Stephen is comfortable with all genres of music, and has played professionally all around the world, in every major city. He was born in London, Ont., but has lived in practically every country imaginable. Lucky for us, he settled in Kelowna. 

I asked him why Major Mambo. 

“This group is more than a band. Bands are loosely gathered musicians fulfilling a gig. You may be together for a year, travelling with a show but it is still a gig. Major Mambo has become a family, something that is very rare and special. It brings back the joy of performing.”

What is next? Writing their own music, playing at major festivals and exploring the essence of Latin music. No limitations on what they want to do.

Where do you find them? 

Their favourite haunt is Soul De Cuba Café. 

“We really let our hair down there. It feels like home. They are definitely like family,” Maggie said. 

You can also find them on a summer evening and, perhaps for dinner, this winter at Vibrant Vines Winery.

Keep a good eye out in the papers for their next gig. They sell out quickly. They are available for corporate gigs, weddings, restaurants, dances, resorts, you name it.

This sizzling, hot, spicy, and oh, so cool salsa band comes with a warning: Don’t come unless you like to dance, because you will find yourself dancing the night away.

To book them, contact Trevor Salloum.  www.trevorsalloum.com or facebook.com/salsabandkelowna.


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About the Author

Sue Skinner is a singer of opera and musical theatre, a choral conductor and a teacher/coach of voice. 

She has travelled the world, learned many languages, seen every little town in Alberta and supported herself with music all her life.

She has sung at weddings, funerals, musicals, operettas, opera, with symphonies, guitars, jazz groups, rock bands and at play schools. 

Skinner has taken two choirs to Carnegie Hall, sung around the world, and teaches for Wentworth Music on Zoom.

[email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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