Archive for the 'Latin Jazz' Category

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!!!