-- 15-man Latin-Jazz-Urban Orchestra --
| 6 jazz horns | 3 latin percussionists | 2 hip-hop rappers | 2 latin vocalists | 2 funk bassists |

See full colour band bio
3.1 meg high-res JPG file

Live From The
2004 Distillery Jazz Festival
All tracks composed
& orchestrated 
by Nick "Brownman" Ali
Sao Jrel

(whole tune!! including intros)
featuring 3 improvising rappers:
Enlight, Phatt Al, N.I.Gel
& bari solo by Rich Underhill
15.1 meg | 16min, 10sec
It's really worth listening to all of it.

Del Medioevo
(whole tune!!)
featuring 3 improvising rappers:
Enlight, Phatt Al, N.I.Gel
& improvised Salsa vocals by
Alex Naar
6.5 meg | 7min, 0sec
Perdido En La

Cuevas Azul - 1
(Intro & Melody)
1.5 meg | 1min,40sec
Perdido En La

Cuevas Azul - 2
(End of Bone Solo & Horn Mambo)
533 kb | 34sec
Perdido En La

Cuevas Azul - 3
(Final Melody to end of tune)
1.3 meg | 1min,21sec
El Hermitano

(Intro bass dueling & Melody)
5.7 meg | 6min, 2sec
featuring the dueling basses of
Andrew Stewart & Marc Rogers
Two Clear Nights

1.4 meg | 1min, 28sec
featuring the Monster Horns
Normally CRUZAO - Trinidadian born jazz trumpeter Brownman Ali's award-winning latin-jazz outfit - is a 5-man group.  This special large permutation of the group was conceived in 2004 for 4 feature performances at the Distillery Jazz Festival in Toronto.  Brownman has written* intricate 15-man large ensemble orchestrations for this MONSTROUSO unit (affectionately refered to by it's members as "The Monster").  The group features a 6 piece horn section, 2 monster bass players(!), 2 acclaimed latin vocalists, 3 percussionists and 2 of Canada's finest freestyle rappers -  enlight (of GRUVASYLUM fame) and the luminous PHATT al, all - like the original CRUZAO - still in a chordless latin-jazz setting - with no piano and no guitar.
*Brownman was awarded the 2002 Canadian National Composer of the Year Award

A one of kind big band.
A latin-jazz-urban orchestra.

authentic latin rhythms
jazz harmonies
urban ideology
and big band lineage
in a chordless setting.
(CRUZAO was recently named by New York University's
jazz department as the first chordless latin-jazz group in history)

"...latin-jazz-funk - monstrously joyfully, energetically big..." 
- NOW Magazine

"...a one of a kind big band..."
- Toronto Star

"... four concepts so smoothly mixed by this young fearless jazz leader..."
- Toronto Hispanos


Brownman trumpet / electric trumpet /
flugelhorn / compositions
Trinidad From CRUZAO - National Jazz Award winner
lead trumpet / flugelhorn Canada From NOJO
alto sax / flute / 
bass clarinet / soprano sax
Trinidad From CRUZAO
tenor sax / soprano sax Canada From CIMARRON
trombone New York Thelonious Monk Competition Finalist
baritone sax Canada JUNO winner (Album of the Year)
5 & 6 string electric basses Mexico From CRUZAO
6 & 7 string electric basses Canada From GRUVASYLUM
drumset / timbales Canada National Jazz Award nominee
congas / additional perc Peru National Jazz Award nominee
bongos / campana / add. perc. Colombia From CHIVA
latin vocalist Mexico From MARRON MATIZADO
latin vocalist Venezuela From MARRON MATIZADO
enlight freestyle rapper Trinidad From GRUVASYLUM
PHATT al freestyle rapper Jamaica From GOD MADE ME FUNKY
N.I.Gel freestyle rapper (special guest) Jamaica From POCKET DWELLERS
Cruzao Grupo MonstruosoLeft - 3 rappers, Centre - Ali Brothers, Right - Jason Logue - flugelhornBrown - flugel, Marcus Ali - flute, Jeff King - soprano (rear)Brown - trumpet , Marcus Ali - altoJosh Brown - boneMarcus Ali - alto sax
Marcus Ali - fluteMarc Rogers - green electric bassAndrew Stewart - red electric bassBrown - flugelBrown - flugelPhatt Al - rapper3 rappers - L to R - N.I.Gel, Enlight, Phatt Al
Photos by Thane Lucas

11"x14" printable stageplot JPG (186kb) or PDF file (160kb)
"Browntasauras Records Recording Artist Brownman Ali & CRUZAO have achieved much in the Canadian jazz community to date including being awarded the 2002 Canadian National Jazz Award for "Composer of the Year", NJA nominations in 2002, 2003 & 2004 for "Electric Group of the Year", and 2003 "Trumpet Player of the Year".  This group has also been awarded the Montreal Jazz Festival's coveted "Grand Prix du Jazz" award, CBC Galaxie's Rising Star award and has been recently nominated for the "Canadian Music Independent Artist award".  The group's debut CD "Shades of Brown" (Justin Time Records 2002) spent 3 months as number 1 on the college and community radio stations Canada-wide upon it's release and, along with Jane Bunnett, are one of the only Canadian latin-jazz recordings recognized in New York City. CRUZAO was recently named by New York Univerity as the first "chordless latin-jazz group in history" and is now used as a historical example in the institute's curriculum by noted NYU teacher and latin percussionist Memo Acevedo."  - Scott McLaren, Jazz critic
The band that started it all!  -- The original 5-piece version of CRUZAO
"Shades Of Brown" on BROWNTASAURAS Records!
Click here to go to JUSTIN TIME RECORDS and buy the CD online!
Buy it online directly from 
Browntasauras Records!
Brownman Ali &
Poster 2004
The Debut of the Monster

Brownman Ali - winner of the 2002 National Jazz Award for "Jazz Composer Of The Year"
(for the all-original tunes written for "Shades Of Brown")
CRUZAO - Winner of the coveted 2001 Montreal Jazz Festival's "Grand Prix du Jazz" Award
CRUZAO - Winner of the 2001 CBC Galaxie "Rising Star" Award
CRUZAO - 2001, 2002, 2003 National Jazz Award nominee for "Electric Jazz Group Of The Year"
Brownman Ali - 2001 nominee for "Jazz Trumpet Player Of The Year"
CRUZAO - 2004 Canadian Independant Music Award nominee for
 "Alternative Latin Group of the Year" 

All charts and midi files for CRUZAO GRUPO MONSTRUOSO
are now online in PDF format!
Monster Charts

Performances of note:
Toronto Jazz Festival - mainstage at Nathan Philips Square
Montreal Jazz Festival - mainstage at Contact Stage
Jazz By Genre's "Latin/Brazilian Night", Mod Club, Toronto
Brigitine Room, Harbourfront, Toronto
Axis Club Theatre, Toronto
See Press Release from May 27, 2005 Distilleary Jazz Fest concert


THE SAGA of CRUZAO -- from Quintet to Monster

In the beginning there was... Brownman & CRUZAO :

Throughout jazz history there have been many explorations of "chord-less" music -- ensembles without a piano or guitar -- but in Latin American music, there has been few, if any, exploring that texture, likely to do the dominance and central importance of the "montuno" piano construct. In the early 2000's Brownman Ali, already a highly in demand studio musician in the Toronto's bustling Latin scene, became obsessed with the idea of trying to compose Latin-jazz without a montuno, in a chord-less environment, to see if audiences would miss it. Could modern Latin-jazz be written without a montuno? From that question, the great experiment that was CRUZAO was born -- a five-man, Latin-jazz-urban ensemble led by Ali, which featured his brother Marcus Ali on alto, Paco Luviano from Mexico on bass, Luisito Orbegoso from Peru on congas and a then new arrival to Canada, Cuban drummer Chendy Leon. This ground-breaking ensemble would be called "Canada's premiere latin-jazz ensemble" by Toronto's NOW Magazine and "one of the first chordless Latin-jazz groups in history" by New York University's Music Department. Their debut recording "Shades Of Brown" would shoot to the top of the national jazz charts for three months, leading Brownman to being awarded the National Jazz Award for "Composer of the Year", and garnering invitations as the featured ensemble at such international jazz festivals as Havana, Prague, Montreal, Toronto, Estonia, Hawaii, New York and Paris. The group would win the coveted Montreal Jazz Fest's "Grand Prix du Jazz Award", a CBC Galaxie "Rising Star" Award, a SOCAN composer award, and receive 2 Toronto Independent Music Awards & 4 National Jazz Award nominations.

The group did very well internationally, but after a few years, Brownman became fascinated with the idea of expanding the ensemble in size and writing large ensemble orchestrations for a bigger version of CRUZAO.

"The idea was to thematically explore and expand on the initial latin-jazz-urban concept of CRUZAO, to delve deeper into those sonic qualities, and inflate that ideology from 5 to 15 men", states Brownman. "Having these top-shelf latin musicians, jazz artists and hip-hop brothers all stand as one, and play together with grand unified motion, is a staggering and pride-filling experience to witness both as composer and bandleader."

And thus -- the Monster was born :


Brownman’s remarkable talent for blending jazz elements with urban grooves and Latin rhythms is perhaps best exemplified by CRUZAO GRUPO MONSTRUOSO, his unique 15-piece latin-jazz-urban orchestra - built outward from the core of CRUZAO - featuring a 6-man horn section, 2 monster bass players, 3 percussionists, two Latin vocalists and two freestyle rappers. The orchestra was inaugurated with 4 feature performances at the 2004 Distillery Jazz Festival to a captive sold-out capacity audiences making the shows the largest in that festival's history. Brownman's intense style, rhythm, power and versatility for which he’s known are amplified by the MONSTRUOSO, affectionately called "The Monster" by it's members and media. That the extensive changes in size and orchestration -- still retaining a fundamentally chordless premise with the use of 2 bassists, yet no piano or guitar -- doesn’t detract from Brownman's eclectic yet cohesive mix of styles and influences is a testament to the talents of this National Jazz Award winning composer.

But it's important to note that MANY talents are on keen display in this all-star ensemble. CRUZAO GRUPO MONSTRUOSO’s monumental performances offer consistent evidence of the sheer breadth and wealth of Canada's jazz, latin and urban communities with the group being stacked with Juno and National Jazz Award winners all with international reputations of their own, exemplified by thrilling performances that hold audiences enthralled when they’re not spilling onto the dance floor. Brownman’s younger sibling and right hand man in CRUZAO, Marcus Ali, is highly showcased in the Monster and often finds himself matching wits with his older sibling on the bandstand with improvised dueling so intuitive they seem to border the telepathic and adding yet another layer of superlative artistry to the show.

“This latin-jazz-urban combination of a 6-piece horn section, 3 percussionists, 2 bass players, 2 Latin vocalists and 2 rappers is mad science to some, but the electrifying chemistry is undeniable to both critic and fan alike. Never has such unique orchestrations sounded so highly evocative, energetic, and sonically adventurous as in Brownman's CRUZAO GRUPO MONSTRUOSO.” 
- Toronto Film Festival magazine
Visit the BROWNMAN.COM website
Visit the original CRUZAO website
Visit the MARRÓN MATIZADO website
Visit the GRUVASYLUM website
Visit the ALI BROTHERS website
Visit the CHIVA website
Visit the ODDBAWL website