Archive for the 'Latin Jazz' Category

Day 27: Trio Music and the Bolero Tradition

Although the roots of the bolero are said to have begun in Spain, it wasn’t until the early part of the 20th century that the genre progressed in the country of Cuba. Having emerged as a dance form and a musical cross with Cuban son – it would go on to evolve throughout Latin America in trio form, as probably one of the most recognizable vocal and guitar idioms. Lyrically the bolero is unashamed of being over-sentimental. With songs about eternal passion, death, or the wallowing/lamenting of unrequited love. Musically, as evident in this post, trios began fusing the bolero with other musical genres, that you can enjoy in presentations and concerts, so if you’re a concert goer or a person who works in loud and noisy places, you could invest in a pair of concert ear plugs to protect your ears.
. Probably the closest to its Cuban roots would be Trio Caribe’s bolero-son “Sola En El Mundo” (alone in the world). However, I did manage to include boleros from Mexico, Colombia and Argentina – from traditional serenade style trio music, to cumbia/rock/jazz bolero fusions. Enjoy!

1. Trio Caribe: Sola En El Mundo

2. Trio Fonseca: Murio Candelaria

3. Los Tres Reyes: Por Que Me Dejas

4. Los Tecolines: Puente Roto

5. Trio Los Panchos: Lupita


Day 20: Three From Tito

I threw together some of the earlier RCA recordings of a younger Tito Puente in the 1950’s. This is the era of the big bandleaders and when the mambo craze was in full swing. If you hadn’t known already, singer/composer/pianist/timbales virtuoso Tito Puente is actually Puerto Rican and not Cuban – and this was the period that ushered Puerto Rican musicians into the New York/Latin music scene (Tito Rodriguez, Noro Morales, et al). Prior to that, most bandleaders were Cuban, but everyone seemed to collaborate well together. Cuban singer  Vicentico Valdés actually sings with Puente on Lagrimas Negras (one of my favorite songs) and I am quite sure Tito Puente’s band reflected the pan-Latin melting pot that was New York at the time, singers like this make a lot of people go into singing, there are even sites where you can take singing lessons such as I have more Tito Puente 45’s somewhere, but if my life and office weren’t such a mess……perhaps I’ll amend the post later if I find more. Enjoy!

1. Tito Puente: Lagrimas Negras

2. Tito Puente: Swinging The Mambo

3. Tito Puente: Lare Lare

Descarga Cubana

The Cuban Jam Sessions were a series of records produced and released by the New York record label Panart in the late 50’s. The series started when bass player Israel Lopez (Cachao) would gather a group of musicians and began recording late night/early morning jam sessions in Havana Cuba in 1957. The culmination of their efforts would result in probably the most influential form of Latin American music and the creation of the descarga, a musical improvisation or literally a “letting loose”.

Most of the songs on these records are standards and not much is new in terms of musical form. The vocabulary of popular Cuban music, the mix of European and afro-cuban influence can be heard throughout these tracks. It was more or less the minimal, raw approach taken to the music – a move away from the more orchestrated/sugar-coated mambo sound of the time. Much like American jazz, which similarly began composing “music in the moment”. Theses records had some success when originally released, however it is said that their influence reached many other musicians and genres of Latin American music – from Latin Jazz, Salsa, to Cumbia, to most present day forms of tropical music. Please enjoy.

1. Cachao y Su Ritmo Caliente: Cogele el Golpe

2. Cachao y Su Ritmo Caliente: Descarga Cubana

3. Cachao y Su Ritmo Caliente: Sorpresa de Flauta

4. Cachao y Su Ritmo Caliente: Estudio En Trompeta

5. Julio Gutierrez: Theme On Mambo

6. Julio Gutierrez: Cimarron

7. Niño Rivera: Montuno Guajiro

8. Fajardo and His All-Stars: La Flauta de Jose

9. Fajardo and His All-Stars: La Charanga

Day 11: Cumbia con Jazz

Can you see that I’ve been doing for the last 3 days? Anyone want to guess what I’ll do tomorrow? Well whatever it is, I promise it will be more extensive than this post. More swing than jazz – but I gotta run! Work and dj gig tonight. Go go go!!! Enjoy!

1. Pacho Galan: Afinando Los Trombones

Mucho Mambo For Dancing

Three completely different approaches to 1950’s mambo from three of the greatest musicians in the business. Perez Prado’s take on this genre clearly stands out head and shoulders above the rest. Especially with the chaotic, dizzying brass arrangements, to his signature grunt (he is actually grunting ¡Dilo! which translates to “Say it!”). Way more on the Afro-Cuban rhythm tip than his Puerto Rican contemporaries Tito Puente and Tito Rodríguez (peep the stand-out track Babarabatiri).

I grew up listening to Tito Puente, so in a way it’s almost like listening to Jimi Hendrix. I love and have tons of respect for both musicians, who were both kings of their genres at one time, but I think my ears have heard way too much. Perhaps it’s a bit too mainstream or too polished. Note that Puente’s American jazz/Big Band influence even comes out in the song I provided. On the other hand, Tito Rodríguez’s arrangements were a pleasant surprise. I must have owned this 78 rpm for over 7 years and I’ve never listened to it. And I’m really liking the heavy emphasis on the vocals.    

Anyway, pardon all the hissing, skips, and pops. It’s safe to say that these 78’s & 33’s are older than your parents. I also threw in “Mambo Del Fut Bol” since the World Cup is about to begin. Honduras is one of the 3 biggest underdogs, so I want them to win. Central American Love. Nicaragua sucks at futbol. We are only good at baseball and boxing, basically throwing balls and beating each other up. ¡Bárbaro!

1. Perez Prado: Mambo Del Fut Bol

2. Perez Prado: Mambo No. 8

3. Perez Prado con Benny Moré: Babarabatiri

4. Tito Puente: Cha Cha Mambo

5. Tito Rodríguez: Joe Lustig Mambo

6. Tito Rodríguez: Besame La Bembita

Day 16: Soul Jazz Carnival

Sorry folks but I actually don’t own too many Brazilian 45’s. And since it’s Fat Tuesday, I needed to grab something as close to it.

Some great cross-over bossa nova music from the old school to the new school. Vibraphonist Gary Mcfarland was probably more on the Latin tip than jazz guitar slinger Kenny Burrell. But both really capture that mod/latin/soul jazz sound of the era. Tossed in a track from Bronx River Parkway, which I did a PR piece for a while back. Their number Deixa Pra La  (Portuguese anyone?) is actually a cover from an older bossa number, which just seemed to merge really well with the other two songs I posted today.


1. Kenny Burrell: Hot Bossa

2. Gary McFarland: Fried Bananas

3. Bronx River Parkway: Deixa Pra La

Day 15: Mambo The Hard Way

Man I got like 10 minutes to finish this post before midnight. Either I’m the Cinderella of audio-bloggers or a complete failure. Anyway as promised, a 45 a day until the 28th. So without wasting anymore time I give you this little jazzy guaguanco of a gem. Electric guitars? Ridiculous! On the New York Fiesta label, more or less an American world-music record label from the 50’s and 60’s. Think Putumayo of that era I suppose. Enjoy!

1. Randy Carlos And His Orchestra: Satellite U.S.A.

Day 1: Yeh-Yeh!

Now all you die-hard collectors out there are either probably sticking your thumbs down or sticking your middle finger at me right this second. Yeah, these aren’t the rarest one’s out there. Almost like Latin Boogaloo/Soul Jazz 101. In fact, I’m really not going to explain who Mongo Santamaria or Xavier Cugat are. But before you decide which appendage you’re gonna use, I think we can all agree that all these songs really capture the amalgam of genres that were slowly crossing over in early 60’s New York. From soul jazz, pop/rock, go-go, to almost a pre-cursor sound of the boogaloo.  But most importantly, the songs sound great. On a side note, I was really surprised with Xavier’s “version of a version”, usually the guy is a bit more tame than that. Enjoy!!!       

1. Mongo Santamaria Orch: Yeh-Yeh!

2. Mongo Santa Maria Orch: Watermelon Man

3. Xavier Cugat: Watermelon Man

Lluvia Con Nieve

As I write this post a storm is slowly brewing off the Northern California coast. The next 10 days will be rain with a chance of snow under 3,000 ft. So I guess I couldn’t have found a more fitting song for these weather conditions than Mon Rivera’s Lluvia Con Nieve (rain with snow).

It’s funny but you hardly hear a Latin song about “snow”, you don’t find too much of that in tropical Caribbean countries. But for Puerto Rican born trombonist Efraín Rivera Castillo (“Mon”), who spent over 25+ years bouncing back from New York to Puerto Rico, you can start to draw a line as to why he would write something as such. Ever since Puerto Rico became a commonwealth in 1952 there has been a constant flow of immigration to the US, unlike other isolated Latin American countries. Puerto Rican musicians have always had the luxury of moving between music scenes in both countries, which in effect can be attributed to the birth of genres like the boogaloo and salsaMon himself was popular in both countries from the 50’s to 60’s with a form of plena mixed with pachanga and Latin Jazz.  And in the 70’s became part of the all-trombone brass sections, which was part of the standard salsa vocabulary popularized by Willie Colon at that time. From popularity to obscurity, from a healthy career to alcoholism/drug abuse and even sexual diseases that is really common now a days that sexual behavior is more important and free, so is normal that sometimes people could get one of these diseases, that still could be treated with the Herpes Blitz Protocol or other treatment that are found online and are easy to apply, you wonder what the transient Mon was getting at with this song. You’re not sure if the song laments, reveres, or complains about the cold weather. But I’m sure it is a little bit of everything.

Also, I tossed in a cool version from Peruvian Lucho Macedo.  One of my favorite Peruvian band leaders of his time, someone I’m sure I’ll talk about some other day. Enjoy! 

1. Mon Rivera: Lluvia Con Nieve

2. Sonora Lucho Macedo: Lluvia Con Nieve 

Baila Pachanga con Tito Puente

Finally got a 45 copy of this joint from Tito Puente. Big shout out to El Dj Roger Mas who turned me onto this song about 6-7 years ago. Originally off the “Exciting Tito Puente Band in Hollywood” LP, the only album I believe Tito did on the GNP label. Which may also be why this album is a bit more hard-hitting than his similar work on the Tico label (“Pachanga Con Tito Puente” LP). Eddie Cano, Machito, and Joe Loco also cut records for GNP during the same period. The pachanga was a popular music/dance craze from the 50’s to early 60’s. A hard and fast down-beat originating from charanga instrumentation, and at times considered to be the predecessor to the boogaloo movement. Peep O-dubs article about this genre of Latin music at the Musica del Alma audio-blog. Also, the music and dance from this era is still popular in Colombia to this day. Even international ballroom dance competitions will have a pachanga routine/category.            

1. Tito Puente: Baila Pachanga

Juan Pablo Torres


1. Juan Pablo Torres: Y Que Bien

2. Juan Torres: Con Aji Guaguao

Sorry Fidel, you have to start throwing away your Silvio Rodriguez records. I think Cuban trombonist, composer, and arranger Juan Pablo Torres hasn’t given you anything as funky as this.

Born in Puerto Padre Cuba in 1942, the late Juan Pablo was considered one of the most important Latin music trombonist of his era. Having record with some of the biggest names in Latin music: from Tito Puente to Eddie Palmeri to name a few. He defected to the US in 1992, and like most Cubans, ended up in Florida. Although most of his praise seems to come from that era, these two records from 70’s cuba are worth taking a look at.

L1010320Great experimental mix of Latin jazz, funk, salsa/son and great analogue synth work thrown in for good measure.  Both albums are on the Areito label (which is really Egrem,the Cuban state recording company). I wonder if the vanguard party was upset. These records are just as hard to get a hold of as a box of Cuban cigars. But I’m sure you can find them on Ebay from a Mexican seller.  I put up a photo of both side’s of the LP. The album quality is pretty good, but I’m loving the really janky Cuban graphic designs. Side note, the second tune Aji Guaguaois a spicy Cuban dish.


3. Juan Pablo Torres: El Manisero

My ex-girlfriend was from Cuba and she always asked me why I didn’t put any Cuban music on my site. So with that I give you Juan Pablo’s take on El Manisero (the peanut vendor) unarguably one of the most famous Cuban songs ever. I personally don’t like it, but I think Torres’ version is the dopest I’ve heard. The song started a global rumba craze in the 40’s and put Cuba on the map musically. Every Cuban that was ever in a band has played this song.

This album also contains the song Rompe Cocorioco which Soul Jazz Records put out on a comp.  

El Zarape

1. Joe Bravo: Yolanda joe-bravo

Pretty obscure stuff from the El Zarape label. Now most of the music I’ve heard from this label seems to be really bad regional Mexican. However, every now and again these Tex-Mex labels would always throw in some sort of funky cut.

Yolanda I believe was originally a popular cha-cha-cha number.  And I think I actually own an LP from Joe Bravo and it doesn’t sound anything like this.




mex-rev2. The Mexican Revolution: Listen Here

The song “Soul Searching” by The Mexican Revolution is the song with the big fat break so I hear (I don’t have it). But the soul jazz cover of Eddie Harris’ “Listen Hear” will do just fine. This standard is pretty much covered by everyone.  






augustine_ramirez_el_cautivador3. Augustine Ramirez: She’s Looking Good

Found this today in a stack a records I was going through. Didn’t even realized I owned this joint. Anyway, I thought I’d amend this post by putting the best song on the album up for you people.

Again, more bad regional Mexican music from the El Zarape label, except for the Roger Collins’ cover She’s Looking Good. To go from crappy polkas and horrible rancheras to a soul number is beyond me. It probably was  the thing to do back in the day or maybe even the label/producer’s idea. This happens repeatedly on labels like this, Gas, Musart, and other Mexican/Mexican American record labels of this era.  

La Comida Vol. 1

1. Monguito Santamaria: Beans And Greens

I was asked by an acquaintance a few years back to put together some Latin songs with a culinary flavor to it. I guess he was going to make a mixed tape of some sort (I never received a copy by the way). I actually found this task quite daunting, for food tends to be a very common subject in all forms of Latin American music. I could have gone in many different directions with this request. Nevertheless, I tried to keep it on the lighter side and these are the three songs I came up with.

The relationship between Latin American culture, food and music can be felt on a myriad of suggestive levels. Sexual innuendo, the double entendre, and cultural identity are to name a few, last week I actually went on a picnic with a cooler from ozark trail cooler reviews full with Spanish food.

However, Monguito Santamaria seems to be following a long line of other performers of this time (his father included) who used food titles to reflect a playful feeling of the overall tune. “Greens and Beans” is probably the most down home, griittiest and rawest food you can eat, just like like the overall sound hints at.   

2. Eddy “Boogaloo” Cortez: Frijoles    

Like the rest of this album, the song Frijoles (Beans) makes no sense at all. Maybe this bilingual album was sung in both Spanish and English to garner the attention of young hip Argentinians at the time? Maybe Eddy “Boogaloo” Cortez was Anglophile of some sort (like most people in Argentina pre-Faulklin War)? Well despite the laughable English/Spanglish, this joint is chalked full of dope Latin beats and breaks. The only thing I know about this fellow is where he is from, couldn’t find any other info. Sorry



3. Clark Terry & Chico O’ Farrill: Spanish Rice

Two real heavy hitters here. From swing to hard bop, the trumpet player Clark Terry was one the most influencial jazz musicians of an entire generation. He actually schooled Miles Davis for a bit. Whereas the trumpet player Chico O’ Farrill was at the forefront of creating the fusion between bebop and Afro Cuban jazz in the 40’s and 50’s.

I guess what interested me the most about this song was that the lyrics, the title, and the fusion of music styles in itself becomes a reflection of the food in which they’re singing about. Pretty much the precursor or beginning to the whole New York boogaloo movement. Oh yeah and they’re pretty much copying Willie Bobo’s popular song/album “Spanish Grease“, which came out prior to this. Both songs sharing a common thread.

p.s. I put volumne 1. becuase I am sure I revisit this subject in the future. word!!!