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Steffen Kuehn of Pacific Mambo Orchestra talks 2014 Grammy nomination

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Pacific Mambo Orchestra, aka PMO, is thrilled to announce its 2014 Grammy nomination for Best Tropical Latin Album, alongside prolific artists Marc Anthony, Los Angeles Azules, Sergio George Presents Salsa Giants, and Carlos Vives. Winners will be announced on Sunday, January 26, 2014 on CBS.

Pacific Mambo Orchestra has taken the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond by storm, establishing itself as one of the nation’s most exciting live acts since its 2010 inception. A dynamic 19-piece Latin Big Band that plays salsa, mambo, Latin jazz & cha cha, PMO features some of Northern California’s finest musicians, including trumpeter Steffen Kuehn and pianist Christian Tumalan, co-bandleaders. Examiner.com had the opportunity to chat with Steffen about all things music and the Grammys! Read the full interview below:

Examiner: How are you guys?

Steffen Kuehn: “We are doing really well and are very excited about our Grammy Nomination!

Examiner: Where were you when you first heard that you nominated, and how did you react to the news?

Steffen Kuehn: “I was at home, when our friend and manager Michael Lazarus called and broke the news. I must have alerted the whole neighborhood with my scream."

Examiner: How does it feel to be nominated in the same category as Marc Anthony?

Steffen Kuehn: “It surely is a humbling experience to be put in the same category alongside the other incredible artists in our category. It does feel pretty surreal at times and we have to remind ourselves constantly that this is for real!"

Examiner: How did you guys all come together?

Steffen Kuehn: “When Christian and I decided on putting together a 19 piece Latin Big Band in October of 2010 and moving forward with this idea, it was simply a matter of calling our favorite musicians, who we had worked with in other bands before. Everybody we called was totally supportive and very excited to be a part of something new."

Examiner: Who are the leaders of the group?

Steffen Kuehn: “The leaders are pianist Christian Tumalan and me, Steffen Kuehn, on trumpet."

Examiner: What makes you guy’s standout from other types of big bands, especially from New York?

Steffen Kuehn: “I believe, there is something like a West Coast sound in music, which has been reflected in the past in West Coast Jazz and other musical styles. PMO's music stands out, because it has cross-over elements of R&B, English lyrics on 2 songs and a first-in-its-genre Big Band Bachata. When Christian and I spoke about the concept of the record, we both wanted to take chances and 'push' the musical envelope. Furthermore the album contains 100% original material, and that includes original arrangements of our 2 covers!"

Examiner: How many pieces do you guys play with?

Steffen Kuehn: “PMO is a 19 piece Latin Big Band with 4 Trumpets, 4 Trombones, 5 Saxes and traditional Latin rhythm section plus our lead singers Alexa Morales (and sometimes Willy Torres).

Examiner: How does the writing process work for such a big band?

Steffen Kuehn: “PMO is blessed with 6 writers/arrangers in the band! We can basically allocate specifically, who needs to write what according to each writer's strength and field of expertise, e.g. one writer may write very strong mainstream arrangements, where others can write more out-of-the-box stuff."

Examiner: Where does some of your inspiration derive from?

Steffen Kuehn: “I believe, that inspiration can come from any kind of source. I might be playing a round of tennis and some melody will wiggle itself into my head. The hard part for me is always to retain that melodic fragment, until I can put it down on 'paper'. Other times I will sit down at the piano and inspiration will occur there."

Examiner: Lastly, what are you guys wearing to the big night?

Steffen Kuehn: “We can't give that away until the big night...you'll just have to watch the Grammy's on CBS."

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