Kansas may be hundreds of miles away from the Caribbean but, for guitarist Sean Mawhirter and flutist Guy Montes, the sounds emanating from that region are ever-present in their sprawling, multifaceted band: Mundo Nouvo (pronounced moon-doe, new-voe).
Mundo Nouvo is a music ensemble as well as an arts organization that is devoted to a longstanding tradition of Caribbean storytelling through sound, with special emphasis on Cuba and Haiti. With an extensive repertoire and the versatility to perform as a Latin-jazz trio or an 11-piece salsa orchestra, Mundo Nouvo has gained momentum through Kansas City’s music scene since releasing its debut self-titled single last year.
As part of its concept, they have attained 501 (c)(3) status through fiscal sponsorship and have teamed up with a partner charity: The Global Birthing Home Foundation (GBHF). Headquartered in Overland Park, GBHF is a nonprofit that supports a maternal care center in Torbeck, Haiti. This year Mundo Nouvo began a concert series, designed for intimate listening venues, wherein all ticket proceeds would be donated to GBHF.
More recently, the group has made plans to help raise revenue for the GBHF by embarking on an ambitious campaign in the coming month
Mawhirter, along with Montes and lead vocalist Ramon Terrada, has been invited to bring a trio version of Mundo Nouvo to the renown Port-au-Prince International Jazz Festival in January 2018.
“This has become a huge cultural event down there and it obviously means a lot for me to perform in my hometown,” Montes says. “It’s in its 12th year now and seems to be getting quite a reputation based on the big names that they’ve pulled in as headlining acts.”
This will be simply the beginning of the band’s new journey.
Mawhirter will remain abroad in both Haiti and Cuba for monthlong research trip in an effort to conduct further study into the musical roots of these two countries that are the guiding inspiration for the ensemble. This cultural immersion effort will involve formal courses taken at two music academies and private studies with some of the nations’ finest instrumentalists.
For Mawhirter, it’s not enough to learn from afar.
“There are so many wonderful ways educate yourself in music nowadays, but there is no substitute for being in the context of the art. After all, how can you say that you know someone without sitting at their table?
After the trip, the band will record and produce its first full-length album, slated for release in the fall of 2018, and donate all funds made from CD sales to GBHF.
An incentive-laden, tax-deductible fundraising campaign has begun to help defray project costs through its fiscal sponsorship with Fractured Atlas.
“I’m really excited about what is down the road for us”, Mawhirter says. “Aside from the academic aspect, there’ll be instruments coming back with me for our educational outreach with K-12 schools. Also, we’re looking to get some of these master musicians up here to perform with us in future concert events for Kansas City audiences.”
What to see them play? They will be performing at 7 p.m. August 10 at the recordBar in Kansas City. Visit MundoNouvo.org for more information.