Monday, April 09, 2007


This time, as cold as it is, we cannot do anything less that warm ourselves up with the heat of the JAZZMOTEL… and what could be a Sound that is capable of heating us all? The JAZZMOTEL Latin Explosion! In 1970 Fania Records decided to make a film about Caribbean music, it recorded at the Yankee Stadium live exhibitions from the Fania All Stars, Tipica 70, Gran Combo and Mongo Santamaria… Practically a nuclear bomb went off when the people, who were in many and also very excited, seeing such ‘congheros’ playing together of the calibre of Mongo Santamaria and Ray Baretto in the opening piece “Conga Bongo”, invaded the stage and forced the police to intervene and shut it down there and then! In the end the film was realised by mixing this explosive start with other pieces of film taken earlier in Puerto Rico regarding the Fania All Stars and other artists from the label: there was also released the ‘Salsa soundtrack’ of 1970! Jerry Masucci, the mythical Fania producer, produced it all and, as far as the legend goes, it appears that the term Salsa was born there and then by taking point that these bands mixed Caribbean and Afro-Cuban rhythms along with a New York style culture! Nowadays Latin music has invaded the world, there are Salsa schools everywhere and we can also see a great response from the public to this music, if however we had to do a Latin party by using our Soul Beat records which would be the right ones for the floor and, above all, would Jerry Masucci, Ray Barretto, Eddie Cano and company still be capable of driving the crowd wild? In my opinion yes! Well, let us try and enter into our archive to scribe out a list of Latin Explosives on vinyl! We shall start with Fania itself with that “Acid” by Ray Barretto that was already mentioned in the Soul Beat number entitled ‘Boogaloo Baby’, even if in this case we won’t examine the Boogaloo pieces but just those much more Salsa like “El Nuevo Barretto” and “Espiritu Libre”. Another album that should not be missing in a fiery party would be “El Exigente” by Orchestra Harlow in which there stands out pieces such as “Bee Free”, “Groovin’ The Afro Twist” and “That Groovy Shingaling” without forgetting “Our Latin Thing” by the Fania All Stars that is another monumental soundtrack to a documentary about Spanish Harlem from the 70’s which features “Ponte Duro”, “Estrellas De Fania” and “Descarga Fania”. We could say that all of the albums by the Fania All Stars, starting from “Delicate And Jumpy”, “Latin Soul Rock”, “Live At Cheetah” (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2) right up to the mythical “Salsa” from 1970 (the soundtrack to that cinematic event that I mentioned at the beginning) have all signalled the birth and fuelled the fame of Salsa music! Apart from the vinyl already mentioned I cannot miss out some by Joe Bataan (“Mr. New York & The East Side Kids”, “Riot”, “Subway Joe” and “Gipsy Woman”) that I would definitely include amongst the big floor songs, other authors also, singers and orchestras to point out are surely Justo Betancourt, Willie Colon, George Guzman, Latinaires, Monguito Santamaria, Mongo Santamaria, Johnny Pacheco, Ralfi Pagan and many more! The labels that, apart from Fania, have taken part in the Latin Explosion and that have published songs that are very handy for an explosive Latin party are Speed, Prestige, Palladium, Tico, Time, Capitol / Liberty, Contique and lots of others. In parallel to the Italian Salsa scene, we you mainly hear CD’s of contemporary Salsa music, there are a few DJ’s, especially in England and Japan, who create ‘authentic’ situations with original pieces of vinyl and typically New York 70’s Latin sounds: one of these is Snowboy, already noted for being one of the most requested percussionists in London as well as an excellent Latin DJ! For some time now we have also seen record companies, like Universal Sounds or Vampi Soul, who are, in a high quality way, re-pressing impossible to find vinyl as well as frighteningly good Compilations like “Newyorika” and others. It is now time to say farewell and to remind you that it is now your turn to go into the record shops, or markets, to search for those pieces of vinyl that will help you with your ‘Latin explosion party’, maybe taking some advice from the above mentioned articles by yours truly and JAZZMOTEL! Peace all over the land!

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