Puerto Rico-based Mulenze is led by bass player/producer Edwin Moráles. They are a salsa orquesta with a line-up of two trumpets, two trombones, rhythm section (conga, bongo, timbales, bass, piano) and three vocalists (lead and chorus). ‘Edwin Moráles is a victim of his own good taste. Mulenze unfailingly produce almost excessively sophisticated albums. Two elements stand out: the arrangements, always an astonishing demonstration of how jazz can be harnessed to clave (the rhythmic heartbeat of salsa) to produce superb swing. And then, the marvellous Pedro Brull: blessed with a gorgeous voice, he has that timing which places him among the great soneros (improvising salsa singers). How bitterly disappointing that Mulenze are not better appreciated’ (quote from Tomek, UK salsa broadcaster).
The band’s first four albums were issued on the PDC label. They signed to Bobby Valentín’s Bronco Records and debuted on the label with the excellentCon Pocas Palabras Basta... (Just A Few Words Are Enough) in 1984. Pedro Brull sang lead on the outstanding track ‘No Te Vayas Todavia’, which was written by Pedro Arroyo (b. 9 November 1957, Mayagüez, Puerto Rico; composer/vocalist/band leader), who has composed 10 other songs for the band to date. ex-Willie Rosario pianist/arranger Javier Fernández arranged the song. Co-lead singer Kenny Cruz departed after Con Pocas Palabras Basta... and later appeared on De Cara Al Pueblo (1988) by Concepto Latino. This band’s style was in a similar mould to Mulenze and contained several sidemen who had recorded with them. Rafy Andino replaced Cruz on Te Damos Las Gracias. Brull supplied the lead vocals to the stand-out cut ‘La Crianza’, which was written by prominent Puerto Rican composer Johnny Ortiz. He also wrote the superb ‘Buscando Aventuras’ (sung by Brull) and two other songs on Mulenze No. 7.
Mulenze switched to the Hitt Makers label for 1988’s Toco Madera. The title track was one of the year’s biggest successes. Keyboard player/arranger Andy Guzmán left to work with band leader/timbales player Don Perignon and the romantic salsa stars, Luis Enrique and Pupy Santiago. In 1982, Guzmán played and arranged on Mamey by band leader, conguero, flautist, singer, composer, producer Julio Castro, another Puerto Rican exponent of sophisticated salsa. Keyboard player/arranger Ricky Rodríguez occupied the vacancy on Extravagante in 1990. Rodríguez was a member of Willie Rosario’s band between 1984 and 1988. In addition to writing charts for Rosario, Ricky arranged for Pedro Arroyo, Conjunto Chaney, Tito Rojas, Vitín Ruiz, and others. On Extravagante, he arranged the Arroyo composition ‘Quedate’, which again featured the glorious lead vocals of Pedro Brull. Two trombonists who recorded with Mulenze, Eliut Cintron and Daniel Fuentes, together with Brull and Guzmán participated in Don Perignon’s all-star La Puertorriqueña line-up for Festival De Soneros in 1990.