Archive for the 'Latin Roots' Category

El Trío Servando Díaz – El Viejito Cañandonga

Sorry for the lack of posts on this site lately. When the IRS takes money out of your bank account, any inspiration you once had for music slowly gets diminished.

But thank god for the Cuban group El Trío Servando Díaz to light a fire under my ass, otherwise you people would be waiting for another two months. Check out my other posts on Arsenio Rodríguez and trio music – those posts somewhat cover what’s happening musically. I heard this song on a cd a while back and since then it’s been difficult finding music from Trío Servando Díaz – most records were made prior to the 50’s on 78 rpm format. But I recently grabbed this old school Cuban son/trio compilation album on the Peerless label via Panart. The whole album is great, but El Viejito Cañandonga was the real stand out.

Cañandonga is a fruit found in Central America and the Antilles. I think it’s called carao in Nicaragua, kind of a pod fruit similar to tamarind. The more I listen to the drunk old man complaining on the track, I think that cañandonga may have been also an alcoholic beverage in Cuba at one time and made famous by sending a known actor allegedly to alcoholism, but not sure about it. There are treatment for chronic alcohol abuse in Austin as well as in Cuba I’m sure. Thanks everyone asking/emailing me where the hell I was. I’ve been a hermit lately so sorry if I seemed flakey. Totally sorry. Anyway enjoy!

– Sonido Franko

1. El Trío Servando Díaz: El Viejito Cañandonga


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

Day 19: Acerina Y Su Danzonera

Sounding like a cross between tango and military/funeral marching band is the music and dance of Danzón. Developed in the mid to late 1800’s from European settlers in Cuba, Danzón would separate itself from the more afro-Cuban traditions of rumba and son – while establishing itself as an export most notably in Mexico. From its early beginnings, Danzón would be seen as something scandalous (like most Latin American music), only later to evolve into a more sedate and dignified form of music and dance. As it’s popularity began to wane in the 1920’s (due to the rising popularity of the chachacha and rumba) Danzón and their musicians would find open arms in such places like Veracruz, Oaxaca and Mexico City.

Mexico has long welcomed musicians and artists from all over Latin America and they really had taken the music of Danzón to heart. Probably one of the most notable Cuban exports would be Arecina Consejo Valiente Robles. It would only make sense to end up in Mexico, since the dance survived longer there than in Cuba. The two songs in the post are in fact  traditional Mexican Danzónes, not Cuban – one song being a homage to Benito Juarez and the other being the popular Nereidas (nymphs) written by Amador Pérez Dimas, who was a popular composer from Oaxaca, Mexico.

Although there is some afro-cuban elements in Danzón, you’d be surprised how ridged the musical form is. There is no singing and the music never features improvisation like rumba and son did. Without delving too deep into the structure, listen to the songs – you’ll hear that there is a change in tempo and tone that defines the style and form structure. Just remember, the melody tends to heat up at the end. Enjoy!

1. Acerina Y Su Danzonera: Nereidas

2. Acerina Y Su Danzonera: Juarez No Debio De Morir 

Day 17: Mariachi On Wax

DEEJAYS: Next time you’re looking for a closer for your deejay nite, throw on a mariachi joint–preferably à la Vicente Fernández or José Alfredo Jiménez–and let ‘er rip. Always kills. Granted, I don’t usually throw mariachi records on the turntable at home, but I like to keep a couple 45s handy when deejaying…just in case everyone needs it. Bodes well with Jalisco-born tequila, too.

Upon hearing about mariachi maestro Vicente “Chente” Fernández’s impending retirement from showbiz (well deserved, I might add, after a near half century-spanning career!), thought I’d share a couple of regional Mexican 45s from my collection. Big up to Franko y su Super Sonido for having me!

1. Vicente Fernández: Volver Volver (Discos Columbia, 1976)

Classic track by a classic dude. No mariachi rocks a mustache or a mic better than Chente. ‘Nuff said.

Found this in a dig while trekking across southern New Mexico two summers ago. It appealed to me primarily because of the fantastic picture sleeve, but bandleader/cantante Ruben Padillo’s signature was an added bonus. While the songs on the disc aren’t particularly mind-blowing (though the featured side is decent enough), it makes up in aesthetic value. Really, how often do you come across a signed, picture-sleeved mariachi 45 on a relatively obscure Mexican label? In my case, not terribly often. Not a bad way to spend 50 cents.

– Alex LaRotta

2. Mariachi Metropolitano de Ruben Padilla: Soy Fronterizo (Discos Aragón – 197?)

Great post and some amazing images on those picture disks. I’ve never met Alex personally, but he has been a fan of Super Sonido for some time now – for which I am greatful for. It appears that when Alex isn’t doing awesome guest blog posts, he can be found in San Antonio Texas playing all sorts of awesome records. Thanks Alex, totally appreciated, and you’re welcome back anytime sir!!! On a side note, Vicente Fernández‘s Volver, Volver (come back, come back) was initially written as a love song. However, the famous ranchera tune took on another meaning in the 70’s and 80’s – becoming a rallying song for Mexican immigrants to return to Mexico. Probably the most famous ranchera song ever written, if not a ballad that made Vicente Fernández legendary – Sonido Franko

Day 5: Primitivo Santos

Primitivo Santos was born in Santiago de Los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, on April 28th, 1935.  His father passed away when he was two years old. From an early age, he was recognized as being a musical prodigy. In the absence of his father, his surrogate guardian, don Federico Camejo, nurtured Primitivo’s musical talents, providing him with classical training in musical theory and performance. Through his rapid mastery of the oboe, his first instrument, Primitivo would join the municipal band at the age of seven. At the age of twelve, he had formed his own band, and by the age of seventeen, having since traded the oboe for the ubiquitous sounds of the accordion and piano, Primitivo enjoyed his first successes on Dominican radio. His prodigious skill at the interpretation of Dominican rhythms brought his talents to the attention of the Trujillo regime, who were using rural musical forms as expressions of nationalist propaganda to rally popular support around the benevolent dictator. It was in this vein that Primitivo was appointed to the position of agregado cultural de la república dominicana, which is the equivalent of a cultural attaché to theUnited States. This would prove a pivotal point in Primitivo’s role in the popularization of Dominican music, as it allowed him to relocate to WashingtonD.C.

He held the position for over five years, performing at diplomatic functions in the U.S. and abroad. It wasn’t until he relocated to New York City that he was able to insert himself into the flourishing and vibrant Latin music scene. Along with Eduardo Brito and Ángel Viloria, Primitivo Santos was one of the driving forces behind the popularization of merengue and Dominican rhythms in the latter half of the 1950’s and into the 1960’s, not only in the United States, but throughout Latin America. As well as playing Radio City Music Hall, he played Madison Square Garden in 1967 with fellow Dominicanos, Joseíto Mateo and Alberto Beltrán, further establishing himself as on of the top Latin performers of the era. Here’s a link to a bio and interview with Primitivo Santos:

These three singles are from Primitivo’s most successful period in the 1960’s. Interestingly, none of them actually feature Dominican rhythms. “Herimpoke” was recorded in 1961 and comes from an album by the same name. It features the vocals Camboy Estevez and is essentially a boogaloo. I have no idea what a herimpoke is. This version of “El Manisero” was recorded in 1967 and comes from the album, “Primitivo y su Combo en Washington”. The single would become his biggest hit, earning Primitivo a gold record. It also features the vocals of Camboy Estevez Babarquiti is a great version of the tune made famous by Celia Cruz and La Sonora Matancera. It features the vocals of Tito Contreras.

– Marcos Juarez

Thanks Marcos. WOW!!! – Sonido (better late than never) Franko

1. Primitivo Santos y su Combo: Herimpoke

2. Primitivo Santos y su Combo: El Manicero 

3. Primitivo Santos y su Combo: Babaraquiti


Day 1: Freddie Fender

Best known for his country singing in the 70’s and his American Tejano sound of the 90’s, it would have come as no surprise that Freddie Fender began his career as a rock and roll/rockabilly/ranchera cross-over musician. Born Baldemar Garza Huerta in San Benito, Texas –  Fender, who legally changed his name in 1958, would first find fame in that  era covering a Spanish version of Elvis Presley’s “Don’t Be Cruel”. However, stardom was cut short in the early 60’s due to a marijuana possession arrest, something which he wouldn’t emerge/recover from for several years later.

I’m thinking that the 45’s in this post come right at a time prior to his incarceration. Nevertheless, the same kind of musical fusion, like that of the country/rock/tejano music he was popular for in the late period of his life, is apparent throughout these tracks. A mix of rock, calypso, to an old school Mexican party standard with “La Banda Esta Borracha” (the band is drunk) is a reflection of varying genres he was able to perform. Even his distinctive voice and dark emotional ballad like Que Tal Amor (how are you my love) reminded me instantly of Roy Orbison, another cross-over Texas native. Anyway, some super rare tejano roots music from the legend Freddie Fender. Be sure to check out an older post of a rare boogaloo number he did, still one of my favorite guest post/songs on this site. Enjoy!

1. Freddie Fender y Los Comancheros: Que Tal Amor

2.Freddie Fender y Los Comancheros: Por Que Eres Tan Mala

 3. Freddie Fender: Las Cerezas

4. Freddie Fender: Dime

5. Freddie Fender: Mi Kingston Town

6. Freddie Fender: Cuando Te Conoci

7. Freddie Fender and the Streamliners: Todos Dicen

8. Freddie Fender y Los Comancheros: La Banda Esta Borracha


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

Haitian Twoubadou with Trio Select

Jean Gesner Henry, dubbed Coupé Cloué during his early years of playing professional soccer in Port-au-Prince, was one of the most influential performers and composers of Haitian music in the latter half of the twentieth century. While the vast majority of his recordings were issued under the Coupé Cloué moniker, his earlier recordings as the singer and leader of Trio Select mark a crucial moment in the evolution of Hatian popular music. Trio Select was formed on September 6, 1957, according to the back of the album. The group featured Gesner Henry and Raphael Benito on vocals, Georges Celestin on lead guitar, Andres Serant on second guitar, Colbert Desir on percussion, and Prospect on bass. Gesner Henry was known for his humorous use of double entendres and colloquial slang, endearing him to his public and earning him the nickname, “La Coqueluche D’Haiti” or “The Whooping Cough of Haiti.” At least that’s what it says in the album notes, but I can’t help but think that something is lost in translation.

Of the Trio Select albums, Plein Caille released in 1971 on the burgeoning Brooklyn based Marc Records, is perhaps the most thoroughly satisfying and rewarding. Although the larger ensemble sound of the Konpa Direk of Nemours Jean Baptiste and the Cadence Rampa of Webert Sicot had opened the flood gates in the early 1960’s and on into the 70’s for a slew of Haitian bands performing in that style, Gesner Henry’s Trio Select is firmly rooted in the subdued Cuban Son and Bolero influenced Twoubadou style. The vocal harmonies are sublime giving the slower pieces a beautiful melancholy quality. The guitar work is stellar as well, with substantial soloing. I wish I was able to understand the lyrics.

– Marcos Juarez

Marcos has written a few posts for super-sonido in the past, but for the last year I’ve been bothering him to be a more active participant for this site – which he has gladly agreed to do and which I am totally greatful for. So for future visitiors of this audio blog, please be aware that this is as much as Marcos’ as it is mine. If you have any direct questions for Mr. Juarez you can add him on facebook or you can listen to his radio show every Thursday 3 to 6 p.m. on KALX radio. Amazing music from Haiti, I am completely floored. Please enjoy!!!

– Sonido Franko

1. Trio Select: Juge, Juge’m Bien

2. Trio Select: Plein Caille

3. Trio Select: Marteau

4. Trio Select: Qui Li Bois







Dos Sones de Arsenio Rodríguez

Known as the father of the modern Afro-Cuban sound, the blind musician and bandleader Arsenio Rodríguez would further develop and modernize the sound of Son, the predominate musical force in Cuba. Up until the 50’s, son centered around the tres (a triple set stringed guitar), bass and clave. By adding more melodic elements to his arrangements like a horn section, piano, and congas – Aresenio Rodríguez garnered instant fame in Cuba, earning him the nickname El Ciego Maravilloso (the marvellous blind man).

Born in Güira de Macurijes, as a young child, Rodríguez was blinded when a horse kicked him in the head. It is said that his musical roots come from the Congolese rituals of his family, instilled in him by his grandfather, who was apparently a slave. There probably hasn’t been a bigger influence in Cuban music than Arsenio Rodríguez. His sound can be heard in the rustic streets to the large Salsa brass arrangements to this day. Even listening to the first 5 seconds of Cambia El Paso (change that step), you instantly recognize the sound of son, something which has almost become a national symbol for Cuba.

On a side note, Andy Harlow does a really good version of Cambia El Paso and his brother Larry does a whole tribute album to Rodríguez. Also, I think it would be cool if someone knew what the word bochinche means. I think it’s Cuban slang for “gossip” – anyway peep the Cubans yelling at each other at 1:35 minutes into the song. The Tropical/Secco label was like the Putamayo world music label of it’s day. The actual album is probably from the 60’s, but this is a collection of Arsenio’s 78’s of the 50’s. Enjoy!

1. Arsenio Rodriguez: Cambia El Paso

2. Arsenio Rodriguez: Se Formo El Bochinche

Ayacucho in Japan

Opening Scene Japan meets Peru from SONIDO LENGUA on Vimeo.

Mauka Zapato from SONIDO LENGUA on Vimeo.

This is a video of my uncle Glenn Ore de la Fuente playing his guitar in Japan. He is playing the style of music I did a post on earlier called “Guitarra Ayacuchana”. The lyrics he sings in are a mixture of Quechua (indigenous language of Peru) and Spanish. The story goes that he married a Peruvian woman of Japanese decent and they moved to Japan. When my dad got this DVD from Glenn he thought it was a CD of his music, not realizing it was this amazing video of him playing musica Ayacuchana in Japan of all places. We haven’t heard anything about Glenn for a while and my dad has been trying to find out his whereabouts. I looked up this statue and it seems to be called Ushiku Daibustu, in Ibaraki Prefecture. From what I saw online it was one of the areas hit hard by the tsunami/earthquake. I hope there is an end in sight to the suffering they are experiencing right now and that Glenn and his family are safe. Big love to our Japanese Super Sonido readers!


Contrabando con Los Tigres Del Norte

I did a short post about Los Tigres Del Norte over two years ago, but since then, drug smuggling in Mexico has since slipped into epic proportions; therefore, I thought I’d do another.

I summed up Los Tigres pretty well in my last post – I wrote about how Norteño music and corridos formed the sound-tract to the social problems and successes of the Mexican people. But it was the number Contrabando y Traicion (contraband and betrayal) that had catapulted not only the band, but the whole Norteño genre to massive success in the early 70’s. A lot earlier than I had previously indicated.

The gritty tune Contrabando y Traicion is a song about a couple who smuggles drugs across the US/Mexican border. Lyrically, it is a cover of an older corrido, which is kind of like a country ballad which can have a parable of some sort at the ending. As the story goes, Emilio Varela and Camelia the Texan smuggle marijuana in their tires from Tijuana, Mexico to Hollywood, California. But as Emilio wants to leave the business and follow a more sobering life in San Francisco, he is murdered by his female partner.

Ballads about anti-heroes, drug dealers, immigrants, and the modern ills of society were nothing new at the time. The Mexican corrido is a musical tradition that lasted over 100 years. The only difference was the approach Los Tigres Del Norte had taken musically to the genre. The combination of instruments, the use of the accordion, the loud/heavy use of the electric bass, and the nasal singing style were the subtle differences that modernized the corrido sound into what is now called Norteño. These guys popularized this sound, an approach which was copied by nearly all of Los Tigres’ contemporaries of the time.

Now the story of Contrabando y Traicion may very well be an exaggeration of some sort, but one can almost see this song as a lament to the trails and tribulations of the Mexican immigrant, a reflection for some, of how much bullshit one has to go through just to cross a border. On a side note, a few movies in the 80’s were made about this ballad. Probably one of my favorite songs of this entire genre. Please enjoy!

1. Los Tigres Del Norte: Contrabando y Traicion



Day 9: Cumbia con Arpa

In Colombia, Los Llanos (the plains) are the vast agricultural lands of savannah that stretch all the way to Venezuela. Both the vallenato and cumbia originated in the northern Caribbean coast – whereas a different type of music from the plain region developed around the instrument of the harp. Musica Llanera, or so it’s called, never really got the attention that other musical genres did of the day. However, Ernesto Torrealba seems to have melded the two genres together quite well.

Cumbia Sobre El Llano is a quasi-reflection of what typical Musica Llanera is about: music with a rhythmic drive and vocals that verge on over sentimentality. But what other instrument can actually sound like the wind hitting the brush and savannah like the harp can? Possibly a testament of how bounded a music is to its own environment. Enjoy!

1. Ernesto Torrealba y su Conjunto: Cumbia Sobre El Llano

La Guitarra Ayacuchana

Here on Super Sonido we tend to focus on cumbia and the more costal/tropical sounds from Latin America but in this post I want to shine some light on music from the Andes of Peru, specifically the region my family is from, Ayacucho.

Located in the central province of Huamanga is the capital city of Ayacucho. The city is named after the historical Battle of Ayacucho, fought during the Peruvian war of independence from Spain. Upon seeing so many casualties on the battlefield, locals called the area Ayakuchu, aya meaning “dead” and kuchu meaning “corner” in the Quechua language. An appropriate moniker considering it later became the epicenter of the Maoist uprising in the 80’s, led by the rebel group Sendero Luminoso (The Shining Path), an organization that gripped the country for over 20 years.

Since the times of the Spanish conquest, death and sadness have been common themes in this region -and nothing reflects this more than the melancholic rythm of la guitarra Ayacuchana. A guitar style so unique, that it is rarely heard in other parts of Peru , much less outside of the country.

The history of music from Ayacucho would be difficult to cover in one single blog post. It would probably require it’s own separate blog entirely. However, I wanted the opportunity to post some of my own personal videos and tracks – something that I hope will give the listening audience some idea of how this style of music fits into the larger picture of Peruvian popular culture. Perhaps illustrating how prominent the guitar is in Peruvian music, as reflected later in musical genres like Chicha and Cumbia Peruana. In Ayacucho the guitar became the instrument that empitomized that region’s sound. It achieved classical status while reflecting it’s indigenous melodic roots, something that tends to allude other instruments and styles such as Chicha and Cumbia, which are commonly looked down on as low class music.

Included in this post are videos that I shot back in 2001 in Huancayo, Peru . They feature my friend and mentor Rudi Felices playing various compositions, one of which he composed. During the war in the 80’s, Rudi was lucky to escape from Ayacucho with his life, he was shot in the arm as he jumped from rooftop to rooftop, escaping the city in the middle of the night. He now lives in Huancayo and works as a math teacher. In the second video clip he goes into some of the history behind one of the classic Ayacuchano songs he refers to as Temple el Diablo, also known as Helme. I have also included an MP3 version* played by the undisputed king of the guitarra Ayacuchana Raul Garcia Zarate. As the story goes, the song was written by a guy named Helme, who after finding his woman with another man, killed them both in a fit of rage and ate their hearts. In his depression, he called upon a famous quenista (flute player) and asks him to teach him a type of playing called Manchay Puito, which is the saddest music known to man; Sadder even than another style called “Yaravi”. He then began to play this music as punishment for the crime he had committed. It’s widely believed that if you play this style of music long enough it will drive you to suicide. ENJOY!!!!

– Dj Lengua

1. Raul Garcia Zarate: Helme *

2. Lira Paucina: El Solitario

3. Florencio Coronado: Arascasca

Ritmo Loco: O-dub & Groove Merchant Records

I had the opportunity this Friday to meet Oliver Wang from the audioblog Soul-Sides. I’ve been a huge fan of his website for years and I am happy to admit that it has been a huge influence to my site as well. Now we’ve collaborated together in the past, but I’ve never met O-dub face to face. And I couldn’t think of a better place to geek out with him than at Groove Merchant Records in San Francisco. Not only that, but it just so happened that I had met store owner Chris Veltri in the past – I just forgot. Anyway, two chance meetings with two really cool individuals. This post goes out to you guys.

Also, if you’re in the SF Bay Area, go check out Chris’ store. It felt great being in an all vinyl record store again, on account of my shameful ass always buying on ebay. It felt reassuring. Plus, Groove Merchant actually has an amazing selection of Latin Records, I strongly recommend checking them out if you live in the area. I picked up a Haitian record and an obscure record of Mexican mambos, a song from which I tossed up below. Enjoy!

1. Los Chucos y Chu Chu Jimenez: Mambo De Cienpie

Venezuela en Ritmo con Los Billo’s Caracas Boys

I was going through a bunch of music today and I found this record mixed in an album that I would more likely want to get rid of. So I thought it would be cool to toss it up. Also, I’ve never seen this Billo label before. Fate.

Orchestra conductor/band leader Billo Frómeta actually isn’t from Venezuela, however he happened to live, work and be remembered most of his life there. Being originally from the Dominican Republic and living a short stint in Cuba probably formed the sound you’re hearing by the Billo’s Caracas Boys. More Cuban son or rumba than anything else. I have more Billo stuff from the 70’s and 80’s (his career lasted 50 years), but it tends to stink really bad. The b-side label is ripped off, so I don’t actually know the name of this song, El Castigador? (the punisher) maybe. Anyway, the best song on the album. Sorry for not posting anything lately, tons of work and little romance has been eating my time up. But more amazing music to follow shortly. Enjoy!

1. Billo’s Caracas Boys: Unknown

Understanding Latin Rhythms

If anyone has noticed, I’ve been posting some really obscure records lately. I’ve been straightening out my record collection and I keep pulling albums I hardly ever play or listen to which is most likely the reason why.  Take the two instructional records Understanding Latin Rhythms for example. Not the best album for the clubs and not the best thing to listen to in it’s entirety on a Sunday morning. Unless I am trying to learn how to use a cow bell, but sadly I am not.

The only worth while track on the first volume is the heavy monster Masacote, a name taken from a style of Cuban percussion jam music. Puerto Rican José Mangual (bongo) and Cuban Carlos “Patato” Valdez (conga) really drop that heavy Nuyorican sound with this song. These two musicians have played with just about everyone, from jazz, latin jazz, to salsa. They just don’t happen to play on the second volume though, which is way more instructional than the first.

Both these albums came with instructional booklets, I posted some images up for you people. Instructional basics and an album to play along with. They didn’t have youtube in 1974. Really nice minimal stuff here nonetheless. A few essential records if you’re a beat maker aswell. Enjoy!      

1. Understanding Latin Rhythms Vol. 1: Masacote

2. Understanding Latin Rhythms Vol 2: Mambo & 6/8 Rhythms

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

Merengue Tipico con Tatico Henriquez

If I keep finding 45’s like this, I’m gonna have to visit the Dominican Republic someday. In fact, I think I’m going to throw my passport away and just move there. Forever.

When I hear music from people like Tatico Henriquez, it would make me consider doing something rash as this. The kinetic style of the music taps into something I suppose. Anyway, Tatico was known as one of the best accordionists of the merengue tipico. His career began in the 1960s and the early 1970s. He was known for his skill on the accordion and the addition of new instruments to a standard merengue tipico band. Unfortunately his life and career ended in a drunk driving accident in Santo Domingo. Still a huge influence in the merengue scene to this day. Enjoy!

1. Tatico Henriquez y Sus Muchachos: Cabo De Vela

2. Tatico Henriquez y Sus Muchachos: Mano Poderosa

Dos Almendras

From the high-class orchestration of Orquesta Aragon to the low-brow minimal Peruvian sounds of Los Kubaney, we have Almendra (almonds), one of my favorite songs from the Cuban danzón era.

Orquesta Aragon is the type of cuban orchestra where you really can hear the European waltz influence more than an afro-cuban one. Perhaps its the stringed instruments and tight ensemble style that they present. Nevertheless, highly popular and regarded as the best charanga orchestras in the 50’s and 60’s, the Orquesta Aragon still performs to this day.

I probably have 3 other versions of Almendra. This standard is done by all the big names from Perez PradoTito Puente to Johnny Pacheco. But I was really floored by this version from the unknown chicha group Los Kubaney. Even though they forgot their bass player when they recorded this track, this minimal psychedelic electric guitar driven version also boarders on greatness. Enjoy!  

1. Orquesta Aragon: Almendra

2. Los Kubaney: Almendra

Los Corraleros De Majagual

Probably one of the most popular Discos Fuentes super groups, Los Corraleros De Majagual would eventually bridge the gap between vallenato and the big band cumbia sound of the early 60’s. Large brass sections, percussion, and a heavy emphasis on the accordion. Los Corraleros brought the music of the Atlantic coast region of Colombia to national and even international levels.   

Every member of this band, be it past or present, would eventually become some of the biggest heavy hitters in the Colombian music scene. Alumni included:  Lucho Argain, Tony Zuñiga, Alfredo Gutiérrez, Calixto Ochoa, Lisandro Meza, “Chico” Cervantes, Eliseo Herrera, Anibal Velásquez, Abraham Nuñez, Julio Erazo, Julio Ernesto Estrada “Fruko”, just to name a few. The list goes on.

Keep in mind that the cumbia began as a low-brow form of music. Being born out of interactions between Indian populations and African slaves, the cumbia was not always looked favorably upon by the Colombian upper classes. Simple 4/4 rhythms with distinctive/hypnotic looping beats, minimal compared to the popular music genres from Cuba and Puerto Rico at the time. Take the song Cumbiamberita for example, its like riding a horse at a fast trot. This is definitely the music of the campesino. I purposly pitted the album covers “En Nueva York” and “Aqui Estan” together. Los Corraleros look happier in their sombreros  vueltiados  Enjoy! 

1. Los Corraleros De Majagual: No Me Busques

2. Los Corraleros De Majagual: Cumbiamberita

3. Los Corraleros De Majagual: Ritmo De Juventud

4. Los Corraleros De Majagual: Pachanga En La 13

5. Los Corraleros De Majagual: Lamento Cumbiambero

6. Los Corraleros De Majagual: Tingo Al Tango

7. Los Corraleros De Majagual: Bailen Charanga

8. Los Corraleros De Majagual: La Tos

La Mezcladora Mexicana

It can get dizzying when one tries to distinguish the plethora of traditional Mexican genres out there. And with every region in Mexico, comes every type of ensemble and every type of musical form. From orquestas/grupos like the mariachi, the banda, and the conjunto, to the musical genres of the ranchera, corrido, bolero, huasteco, vals, danzón mexicana, cumbias, trio music, polkas, ect. ect. ect. The list keeps going.

It’s in my opinion that most regional/traditional Mexican music sounds way better live. Take the Mexican mariachi for example. Fucking BORING on vinyl. But when you’re drunk, with a girl, in the center of some small Mexican town, there is nothing like paying a mariachi group to play Cucurucu Paloma for you (one of my favorite mariachi numbers).

Anyway, I selected some smaller regional Mexican acts with rather interesting sounds for this post. It’s safe to say that the bands presented here probably started out as a kind of a “party” or festival group in their smaller towns and villages. Somehow they were convinced that the should put out a record, usually at the expense of the band, and at a financial gain of music recording studios and/or music labels. There probably wasn’t much of an audience for this kind of music, so the rest is history. Digging the psychedelic polka. Enjoy

1. Lalo Garcia y Su Conjunto: La Cobija De Narcisa

2. Banda Mochis de Porfirio Amarjillas: La Estereofonica

3. Los Gavilanes de Mario Saenz y Wally Gonzales: Frijolitos Pintos

4. Banda Sinaloense de Chico Herrera: Las Menuderas

Day 22: Pablo Beltran Ruiz

I recently had the great honor and privilege to write the liner notes for an upcoming re-release of the Joe Cuba Sextet’s They Must Be Doing Something Right. That album’s big hit was “El Pito.” With its titular whistle and the repeated refrain of “I’ll Never Go Back to Georgia” (borrowed from Dizzy Gillespie/Chano Pozo’s “Manteca” even though none of the Sextet had actually been to the state), “El Pito” wasn’t the group’s most successful song (that belonged to their next major single, “Bang Bang”) but it’s arguably their most infectious.

Not surprisingly, “El Pito” proved to be popular with other Latin groups and notably, found an eager ear throughout the larger Latin music world. That included covers by everyone from Peru’s Alfredo Linares to Venezuela’s Frank Hernandez to this, recorded by Pablo Beltran Ruiz in Mexico. Unlike most other covers, Ruiz’s omits the catchy “I’ll Never Go Back to Georgia” line in favor of a MOSTLY instrumental affair, replaying the vocal line with a bank of horns instead. “El Pito” essentially gets a big band makeover – where the Sextet was punchy with their small size, Ruiz sweeps in with something closer to a mambo orchestra, making “El Pito” sound as if it was recorded a decade before it actually was.

The whistle though? That’s there. You can’t very well record a song called “El Pito” and NOT have the whistle and no matter what else in the song may change, that five-note melody inspires instant recognition…and an inevitable smile.

– O Dub

Great post. Thank you very much! Never heard this rendition of “El Pito” before. Be sure to check out O-Dub at, undoubtedly the dopest audio blog on the net.

1. Pablo Beltran Ruiz: El Pito (RCA Victor)

Day 19: Carmen Rivero y Su Conjunto

Big shout out to Sport Casual from for handing me an awesome version of the “Pata-Pata”.  I believe it’s originally an African 60’s pop song, that for some reason or another, got popularized in Latin America. Although sugar-coated, it fits nicely with the whole go-go and boogaloo genre of that era. And if we are talking genres, there probably isn’t anybody who has gone through more of them than Mexican Carmen Rivero. Some even credit her as the innovator of the Mexican cumbia. But that didn’t stop Rivero from diving into every other category of Latin music that ever was. I have a ton of 45’s from Carmen Rivero and pulled one that seemed the most musically opposed. A cha-cha akin to Tito Puente’s sound. Enjoy!

1. Carmen Rivero y Su Conjunto: Pata Pata

2. Carmen Rivero y Su Conjunto: Brincando Cha-Cha

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 10: Emilio Dominguez y La Sonera Veracruzana

Not really sure who Emilio Dominguez was or where he was from, but his sound resembles the Cuban La Sonora Matancera of the time. A very similar wall of sound coming from that brass section. The thing that confuses me is that the port town of Veracruz has always had a community of Cuban émigrés, especially Afro-Cuban. Also, there was a huge Cuban exodus to Mexico after 1959, a musical and cultural exodus as well. Despite all that I’m pretty sure Mr. Dominguez is from Mexico, maybe because of all the Mexican idioms, especially in the second song. Anyway, check out my prior post about Celia Cruz, which was on a similar Mexican pressing like this 45. Sonera vs. Sonora.  Enjoy!

1. Emilio Dominguez y La Sonera Veracruzana: Llegaron Los Tambores

2. Emilio Dominguez y La Sonera Veracruzana: Adios Mi Chaparrita

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

Ok Dominicans!


Gorgeous bolero style Batchata from the Dominican Republic. The album is a split artist record between Rafael Encarnación and Fabio Sanabia and is mostly over the top romantic love songs. Lyrically I am reminded of Julio Jaramillo, vocally I think of Jamaican Desmond Dekker, and musically it is more or less similar to Cuban guajira and Puerto Rican jibaro music. The mixture of Rafael’s hypnotic voice and the amazing acoustic guitar work is really what this old school Batchata sound was all about. See my earlier post about Edilio Paredes  if you’re into something a bit more uptempo. The Fabio Sanabia side is kind of messed up, but I selected a couple cool ass songs from Señor Encarnación .

1. Rafael Encarnación: Muero Contigo

2. Rafael Encarnación: Ay Que Amor

Discos Musart: Pan-American Beats

I’m anticipating a busy September so I thought I’d toss up a bunch of music while time was on my side. Discos Musart is a label from Mexico and I kind of scrapped together 10 little gems for you people. The great part of Musart was not only their home grown acts but they would also license music from various other Latin American labels and different Latin American countries. They really ran the gamut of genres. From cumbia, boleros, rancheros, to surf rock. The records themselves were often printed in Mexico, Los Angeles, and Hialeah Florida. Thus, the Pan-Americanism. Good friend and Mexican dj Sonido Apokalitzin reissued a few compilation CD’s for Musart about 2-3 years ago. Unfortunately you could only buy those CD’s in Mexico (I have one of them). Seems like he went through their vaults and picked out some really funky numbers. I hope my 45’s stack up.

1. Memo Salamanca: Barranquillerita

2. Nelson Pinedo: Botecito De Vela

3. Los Gibson Boys de Xavier Reyes: Camisa De Fuerza

4. Ramiro Lopez con Conj Barranqueños: Cataclismo

5. Alfredo Gutiérrez: Cumbia

6. Eulogio Molina: Cumbia Morena

7. Carlos Campos y su Orquesta: Guajira Con Boogaloo

8. Emilio Dominguez: Marinero De Agua Dulce

9. Manolo Muñoz: Seremos Felices

10. Alberto Vazquez: Vamos A Bailar



















los gibson


















alfredo cumbia














































Palo De Mayo

1. Grupo Gamma: Tu lu lu luL1000897

I had the opportunity to live and work in  Nicaragua from 1993 to 1994. I lived between my uncles house/my mother’s birthplace in Ciudad Dario and Granada . So whether I was in a bus, a bar, at a party, or in a market I probably heard this song on a daily basis.

The genre of music is actually called Palo De Mayo (The May Pole) which is a month long May Day festival on the Carribean Coast of Central America. It originated in Bluefields Nicaragua in the 17th century and the celebration includes a maypole, which is a tall wooden pole, which is decorated with several long colored ribbons suspended from the top.

The festival, the music, and the culture of the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua is in itself a potent cross-fertilization of African, Creole, Garifuna, Jamaican/Caribbean, Indigenous, and Latin cultures. The song really sounds like a mixture of traditional African rhythms, soca, paranda and Calypso style music. From what I understand, Grupo Gamma probably made a living playing parties and going door to door playing their music in the month of May. The song Tu lu lu lu pasa  (to pass) basically is naming off the people coming,  going, passing  (be it in life, death, or dance I suppose). There are various versions of the song, always naming someone different and I’ve heard a faster merengue version as well.