Pura Caña is the brainchild of Mexican percussionist/producer/bandleader Daniel Osorno, who founded the outfit in the small town of Bellavista, Mexico (not far from Guadalajara) in February 2002 and has been leading it ever since. Osorno is not only a musician, but also an athlete -- a well-known athlete, in fact. In Mexico, he is a famous soccer player, and Osorno's ability to have a career in both sports and music has resulted in some good-natured kidding in the Spanish-language press. Mexican journalists have used humorous phrases like "futbolista músical" (musical soccer player) to describe Osorno and have referred to him as a man with two teams -- a musical team and a soccer (or football) team. (Outside of the United States, the word football -- fútbol in Spanish -- refers to soccer, not the uniquely American sport played by the Chicago Bears and the Philadelphia Eagles). Pura Caña's specialty is banda, a brassy, horn-powered style that originated in southern Mexico and is quite popular in both Mexico and the southwestern part of the United States; banda's participants range from long-running groups like Banda el Recodo (a major influence on Osorno's band) to more recent arrivals who become popular in the '90s or 2000s such as Jenni Rivera, Ezequiel Peña, Rogelio Martínez, and Yolanda "La Potranquita" Pérez. These days, banda is moving in many different directions; some 21st century banda is very traditional, while some of the younger banda artists are experimenting with everything from hip-hop, funk, reggaetón, and club/dance grooves to salsa/Afro-Cuban music, and it is safe to say that when it comes to banda, Pura Caña embraces both the traditional and the modern. Some of their work is quite traditional and stereotypically Mexican, but at times, Pura Caña is not shy about fusing banda with what people in the Latin music industry refer to as tropical music (that is, Afro-Cuban salsa, Dominican merengue, and Colombian cumbia). One minute, Pura Caña is embracing something as traditionally Mexican as Gilberto Parra Paz' "Por un Amor" or José Alfredo Jiménez' "La Enorme Distancia"; the next minute, Osorno will demonstrate that he is well aware of tropical icons such as Tito Puente, Ray Barretto, Johnny Ventura, and Wilfrido Vargas. Osorno comes across as an eclectic individual who could enjoy hearing Lola Beltrán one minute and Olga Tañón or Celia Cruz the next; Pura Caña's work is more Mexican than anything, but the Afro-Cuban, Colombian, and Dominican influences are certainly there. Calling Pura Caña a big band is no exaggeration; in 2003 and 2004, the outfit averaged around 19 members. In addition to Osorno, some of the main participants have included lead singer Nestor Sagid Olea Meneses, producer/songwriter Iván Díaz and keyboardist/songwriter Alejandro Rodríguez. In August 2004, Pura Caña's debut album, Sabor de la Banda Pura Caña de Daniel Osorno, was released by the Los Angeles-based, Univision-affiliated Fonovisa Records (a major player in the regional Mexican market).
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