Date: August 13, 2022
Venue: Axis Club Theatre
Start time: 8:00 PM
End time: 11:30 PM


Brownman & CRUZAO GRUPO MONSTRUOSO (“The Monster”)
SAT-AUG-13 @ Axis Club Theatre, Toronto |
2x National Jazz Award winning trumpet player BROWNMAN ALI brings his all-original 15-man Latin-jazz Urban Orchestra to Toronto’s Axis Club Theatre. This power-house “monster” ensemble is a Big Band version of Ali’s internationally acclaimed chord-less quintet CRUZAO (winners of the Montreal Jazz Fest’s coveted “Grand Prix du Jazz”) and is stacked with Toronto’s Latin, Jazz & Hip-hop musical all-stars and features 6 horns, 3 percussionists, 2 bassists, 2 Latin vocalists & 2 freestyle rappers. They will be performing 2 dynamic sets of Brownman’s all-original large ensemble orchestras colliding authentic Latin rhythms, jazz harmony, urban music ideology and big band writing techniques — all still in a chord-less frame-work. The result: an onslaught of funkified sound that will have you dancing as much as it has you smiling.


“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

“… a truly rare, unique, one-of-a-kind big band”
– Toronto Star

“Brownman’s Latin-jazz Orchestra collides Latin, Jazz & Urban Music with breath-taking panache”
– NOW Magazine

“… stacked with all-stars.. this Monster of a group brings together some of the country’s best and brightest”.
– BlogTO


BROWNMAN ALI – trumpet / flugel / composer
[ Trinidad – National Jazz Award ]

BOBBY RICE – lead trumpet / flugel
[ Canada – JUNO nominee ]

MARCUS ALI – alto sax / flute / soprano
[ Trinidad – from CRUZAO ]

PAUL TARUSSOV – trombone
[ Russia – from SALSOTIKA ]

JEFF KING – tenor sax / soprano
[ Canada – from HILARIO DURAN ]

SHIRANTHA BEDDAGE – baritone sax
[ Sri Lanka – JUNO nominee ]

PACO LUVIANO – 6-string electric bass 1
[ Mexico – from CRUZAO ]

DWAYNE LIVINGSTONE – 6-string electric bass 2
[ Jamaica – from ELECTRYC TRIO

MARK KELSO – drumset / timbales
[ Canada – JUNO nominee ]

LUISITO ORBEGOSO – congas / timbales

RUBEN ESGUERRA – bongos / campana / perc
[ Colombia – JUNO winner ]

ALEX NAAR – Latin vocals 1

LUIS FRANCO – Latin vocals 2
[ Venezuela – from MARRON MATIZADO ]

PHATT AL – freestyle rapper 1
[ Jamaica – from GOD MADE ME FUNKY ]

N.I.GEL – freestyle rapper 2
[ Guyana – from POCKET DWELLERS ]


Sat-Aug-13, 2022
Axis Club Theatre (formerly The Mod Club)
722 College St.
$25 (+$2.50 Eventbrite service charge)
$35 at the door
$20 students / arts workers
Pre & post show DJs : Fantom-Grüv & Lateniters
8:00pm doors (dance-floor avail until 9pm!)
9:00pm show
(come early to guarantee yourself a table, as it’s mainly standing)

Presented by: Sebastian Cook & The BEAT Network, Lemmon Entertainment, Long & McQuades, Brownman Music Inc. & Browntasauras Records. Graciously supported by the Ontario Arts Council & Canada Arts Council

:: 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.

Brownman has described what he does with The Monster as “the biggest, most ambitious musical undertaking of my career”. Don’t miss this one-of-a-king big band on Sat-Aug-13 at Toronto’s Axis Theatre Club.


Cruzao proper:
The Monster:

Artist (personal):
Artist (official):



YouTube: Brownman Music Archive Channel.

Spotify: “Featuring Brownman” playlist Entire Browntasauras Records catalog

YouTube Music Entire Browntasauras Records catalog

Price: $25