Monday, April 09, 2007

LATIN BOOGALOO








JAZZMOTEL will be ‘boiling with Soul’ and I will take you into that hot but very fresh sound called Boogaloo than Latin Soul. In America this sound was famous between 1966 and 1969 and was the first contemporary Latin form that got the attention of a vast public that were a bit tired of the usual Cuban, Mambo and Cha Cha rhythms. Boogaloo, thanks to its Funky sound, was liked above all by the Afro-Americans, it was a highly successful fusion because it also ‘involved’ people that, in the past, never knew Latin music. It is said that the genre in question was born out of the interaction of the Afro-American dancers with the Latin musicians of New York who played in the clubs and night clubs of that period. People such as Joe Cuba say that this sound had a very explosive and stinging tone, to the point that pieces like “Bang Bang!” were created to shake up the dancers and, above all, stimulate them because they were no longer responding to the more classic Latin sounds, no, they were looking for something innovative. Many Latin musicians were also influenced by R’n’B and Jazz, and they therefore created a sound that, quoting various critics and musical historians, became a true milestone of Latin music, also because it came up during the high point of the Charanga popularity and just before the Salsa explosion! It was probably Joe Cuba who at the time gave the input (followed by all those who were playing Latin music in New York like Ricardo Ray, Ray Barretto, Pete Rodriguez, Joey Pastrana, Eddie Palmieri, etc.) and that, with this music, managed to create a meeting point between Puerto Ricans and blacks. Boogaloo didn’t have its own specific dance but like other genres of the 60’s it gave the opportunity for you to move freely and, seeing that all the ballroom floors were made of wood, pirouettes and jumps were the nights attraction. When reading your mail I have understood that you are interested in knowing also the names of the musicians (and relative titles) who started off the various sounds, I will get straight onto it by citing the classic “Bang Bang Push Push Push!” by the Joe Cuba Sextet (quite possibly the inventor of Boogaloo?). Instead, my favourite is “Hard Hands” by Ray Barretto (where you can hear the wonderful “Love Beads”), then there is “Acid”, another Barretto, that contains the classic “Soul Drummer” or “Mercy Mercy Baby” (distinguishable by the bassline riff that was sampled by Mighty Bop during the trip hop era). For those who really want to flip out I would recommend two masterpieces that are very close to R’n’B: I am talking about “Land Of Love” by Moon People and “Take A Trip Pussycat” by the Latin Blues Band (a pseudonym of the same Moon People), albums (recorded in 69 on the obscure Speed label) that are really fantastic and indispensable in any respectable collection! Another great interpreter of this genre (and also classic Latin soul) is Joe Bataan who, thanks to his “Subway Joe”, “St. Latin’s Day Massacre” and “Afrofilipino”, became known all over the world. Not to be missed also is “Let’s Get Down To The Nitty Gritty” by Riccardo Ray because it re-produces pop pieces like “Sookie Sookie” and “Mony Mony” (here in a Boogaloo version that is very rhythmic and danceable). Now I will mention some labels on which have been recorded some splendid Boogaloo albums: probably the biggest of them all (as far as New York Latin music is concerned) is Fania, I will also mention Tico, Allegre, Nike, Speed, Mardi Gras, Double Shot, Omega, Polydor and, also, King of James Brown… yes because also some of the Funk and R’n’B stars have been taken over by their rhythms that later came back revisited by or has influenced artists who in turn were contaminated! The James Brown piece most influenced by Boogaloo is “Shhhhhh For A Little While” where the author, something very rare, doesn’t shout out and sing but instead plays the Hammond… Well, if you come across it buy it because in my opinion it is one of the nicest pieces from Brown… maybe even the best! It is now time to say goodbye and invite you to write to me, especially if you have any questions or would like to have further info about the very vast groovy world of JAZZMOTEL.

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