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Grand scale Flemish mambo orchestra, or as bandmember Stoffel Verlackt announced the project on his homepage : "Straight from sultry Havana-on-the-Scheldt, inviting the dance : the 28-piece Lowlands-Cuban Showorchestra El Tatttoo del Tigre. Brown rum ! Tito Puente ! Brylcreme ! Machito ! Havana-sigars ! Yma Sumac! Spanish with loads of errors ! And most of all: MAAAAAAAAAAM-BO!!!!"


"The Bumblebee"
46 sec. - 91 Kb.
song : Rimsky Korsakoff

"The Crickets sing for Ana Maria"
49 sec. - 98 Kb.
song : Marcos Valle

"Mambo n°8"
35 sec. - 69 Kb.
song : Damaso 'Perez' Prado

1'28 sec. - 174 Kb.
song : Moises Vivanco

Year : 2001
Record co. : Munich Records


The oldest reference to El Tattoo del Tigre that I encountred dates from March 1998, when Benjamin Boutreur left both Zita Swoon and Flowers for Breakfast to "form a big-band and a latino-salsa-band or something of that nature". Indeed, for together with Tom Hautekiet (Kakkewieten, graphic designer of Zita Swoon and Rock Werchter), Stoffel Verlackt (Metal Molly, Flowers for Breakfast) and Carlo Mertens (Wizards of Ooze, Flat Earth Society ...), the plan had arisen to put together a massive big band and put up a swinging mambo show with that. Tom Hautekiet about this : "I once saw a big band in an Antwerp café. And that sounded so well. So I started collecting the albums of Perez Prado. That asmophere. Hót! And they knew how to sing. Party-time! That was really something different from the stale electronic pop from the eighties. And that was what I wanted to do : make hót music."

Members of the orchestra were recruited from de Kakkewieten (a gang of musicians, actors and weirdos, which got to be known through their performances at Bart Peeters' "Vliegende Doos"-shows), befriended musicians (for example Kobe Proesmans and Steven Van Gool of Wawadadakwa, Thomas de Prins of Soul Sucker ...) and session-musicians (e.g. from the Brussels Jazz Orchestra). Moreover, Theo Mertens (father of Carlo, and a jazzmusician of some reputation) turned out to be quite enthusiastic about the project and take part in it "They askes me to participate, and I said yes on the condition that it had to be good. Really good. And the only way to be good is to have very good musicians. And when I heard the band for the first time, the rhythm was right. And in mambo, rhythm is the basis of it all. So that's why I joined."


The repertoire of El Tattoo del Tigre was selected from the mambo-classics, with songs of Perez Prado (historicaly the inventor of the mambo, by mixing Cuban rumba-rhythms with American bigband-swing, thus creating the most accessible form of Latin-American dance music), Machito, Mario Bauzo, Moíses Simón, Consuelo Velazquez or Marcos Valle. Odd man out were songs by Yma Sumac (the "inca-princess" with an unbelievably high vocal reach, aptly imitated by Esmé Bos after a number of singing lessons) and a very skiful bigband-interpretation of Rimsky-Korsakoff's "Flight of the Bumblebee".

The band appeared on stage for the first time during "De Nachten", a two-day art happening in de Singel in Antwerp in January 2000, and this show certainly didn't miss it's effect: "people didn't know what was happening, even regular Kakkewieten followers who knew something about weirdness sat with their mouths open for the first ten minutes. A mindblowing mix of Latin-American music", one viewer wrote. On top of the musical show, they had thought of a visual aspact, in which Adriaan van den Hoof (Discobar Galaxy) and Peter van den Begin (Raf & Ronny) acted as master of ceremonies with lots of "Si Señors" and machismo. Stunningly enough, the band was signed immediately to perform at one of the top spots of Rock Werchter, and because little was yet known about the project, they turned out to be thé surprise of that festival that year. Later on in 2000, they also performed at Lokerse Feesten and Boterhammen in de Stad.


In 2001 it was decided to also record El Tattoo del Tigre on to a (title-less) CD. "We had quite a bit of discussion about that internally, going like "do we really need that, releasing a cd with nothing but songs which are all already out, and in very good versions?" But ultimately, these are these songs, such as we play them. And the sound is not unimportant too: nowadays, it's just that bit more hi-fi than the recordings of logn ago. Plus: it's a really good business card, to get more gigs". The recordins were done during a few days in concert hall Ancienne Belgique in Brussels. Stoffel: "We simply installed everything on stage here in the AB, arranged some mikes around the instruments, and uses the hall for echo and stuff. There were no after-effects used." The humor-aspect of the stage-act was not used in the songs as they were put on CD.

The CD was presente on May 9, 2001 in the same venue. Peter Vanthygem in De Standaard about this: "Of course it's too crazy for words: a Flemish big band that gets to be hip by playing music from the 1940's ... The album doens't give conclusive evidence as to the questions whgether this is a joke, or serious? The concert gave more evidence: they mean it, but as all good Belgians they also see the surrealism of their effort. And they like that ... It certainly is one hell of an orchestra, that's for sure. Experience people that had the songs fizzing as they are supposed to fizz ... The vocalists were more of a question mark. A few of them hardly knew how to sing, but when they all did it together, it díd sound just right. All eight of them liked to parade, in a kitschy retro-style, with those enthusiastic Andrew Sisters-smiles on that used to give courage to heroes headed for to the battlefield ... In that way the whole thing was a combination of wanting, and not being able, of not really wanting, and then suddingly being very able."

In the meantime, there are also some side-projects that have sprung up from El Tattoo del Tigre, such as "Tres Tristes Tigres", in which Esmé Bos, Benjamin Boutreur & Bart Voet interpret melancholic songs from all kinds of cultures and languages, or such as the Pieter Embrechts Famøsorkest (blazers zonder bläsers), in which 8 musicians and 1 singer-storyteller bring a swinging concert with stories and poems of famous and infamous writers mixed in.
More importans perhaps is the news that some of the members of El Tattoo have started working n material of their own, meaning it's the ambition of the band to make the next album not only a very swinging, but also originals piece of work.

In 2001 the band performed at "Chapeau Europe" (spektacle on the Grand Place in Brussels, for the greater good & glory of the Belgian presidency of the E.U.) and Marktrock Leuven. In december, the band goes on tour again through the country - the dates & places of this tour can be found in the forum.

Members :
- Kobe Proesmans (congas, bongos, timbales)
- Stoffel Verlackt (timbales, drums, guitar)
- Junior Mthombeni (bongos, congas)
- Tom Hautekiet (Percussion, vocals)
- Thomas de Prins (Piano)
- Carlo Mertens (trombone)
- Pieter Lamotte (bass trombone)
- Lode Mertens (trombone)
- Frederik Heiremans (trombone)
- Serge Plume (trumpet)
- Nico Schepers (trumpet)
- Guy Hennaut (trumpet)
- Olivier Botson (trumpet)
- Theo Mertens (trumpet)
- Hugo Boogaerts (tenor sax, flute)
- Tom Mahieu (tenor sax, flute)
- Sara Meyer (alto sax)
- Benjamin Boutreur (alto sax)
- Marc De Maeseneer (baritone sax)
- Steven Van Gool (upright bass)
- Bart Voet (vocals, guitar)
- Esmé Bos (vocals)
- Tine Embrechts (vocals)
- Nele Bauwens (vocals)
- Peter Embrechts (vocals)
- Koen de Graeve (vocals)
- Adriaan van den Hoof, Peter Van den Begin, Zulma Echavarria, Marlielis Gomez Bisset, Kristof Roseeuw, (masters of ceremonies, dancers ...)

Buy CD's of this band at proxis

Albums :
- El Tattoo del Tigre (CD, Munich Records, 2001)

Websites :
- Video-interview and report of the recordings of the debut cd at Fun2Go
- El Tattoo del Tigre-page on the site of Munich Records
- Interview with Stoffel Verlackt, Kobe Proesmans & Esmé Bos at Radio 1 Tropical
- and another interview with the same people, at Mao Magazine
- Review of the debut-cd on Kkunst
- "Mambo Kings prove that white folk can swing", article in De Standaard

Forum :
- Read the messages about El Tattoo del Tigre
- Add your message, question, cd- or concertreview ... about El Tattoo del Tigre in the Forum


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Dirk Houbrechts stopped working at The Belgian Pop & Rock Archives (you can read his personal statement here). The website is now entrusted to the Flanders Music Centre ( Contact:

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Last update to this site : December 2001.

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