Sunday, November 26, 2006

Our Latin Thing featuring Fania all Stars film review

A few kids playing on a rooftop in Spanish Harem and one of them, to the sound of the Wah Wah Rhodes of “Cucinando” by Ray Barretto, leaves the group and begins to run. Through side streets, avenues, right up to a wall where you can read names written in a 70’s style Street Graffiti, names like Ray Barretto, Larry Harlow, Willie Colon, Ismael Miranda, Jerry Masucci and Ricardo Ray as well as the title “Our Latin Thing”. As many of you have already understood this month I want to talk to you about a documentary by Leon Gast of which the theme was the Hispanic music phenomenon in the ghettos of Harlem at the beginning of the 70’s. Thanks to Vampisoul, a Spanish label, it is back onto the market (in a DVD version) called “Our Latin Thing, Nuestra Cosa” and offers all of us lovers the possibility of seeing and tasting the ‘authentic’ story of Latin music, something with contaminations from Africa, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Jazz… well, ‘hybrid music’. Vampisoul is, and always has been, one of the more attentive labels in its selection as well as specialising in the distribution of lost tracks from musical styles such as Latin, soul, funk, r’n’b and groove from the 60’s and 70’s because it sources out and represses excellent taste pieces of vinyl of the highest quality. To note also that this label has brought back onto the market, after 20 years, one of the symbols of Latin Soul, ‘The Ordinary Guy, Mr. New York’ Joe Bataan with his newest incredible album entitled “Call My Name”. Getting back to New York though… The principal protagonists of this documentary-film are the Fania All-Stars come along with those people who at this period in time were and integral part and daily ‘animation’ for Spanish Harlem in New York. Jerry Masucci, boss of Fania (a leading label for Latin Music) and Larry Harlow (‘El Judio Meravilloso, The Wonderful Jew’, one of the musicians, better still, the musician that brought Salsa to the whole world) wanted this film to realise a project that had been going ahead for some time: to spread the Latin culture throughout the world. As I said before, to realise this film, filmed in New York in 1972, they called on Leon Gast who was probably the only person capable of collecting together the whole essence of everyday life and transforming it with a touch of cinematic sense. The film starts off with a rehearsal inside a ballroom where the Fania All-Stars are trying out there songs on a few spectators, amongst which two very cool dancers. Between some improvised interviews with Ray Barretto and a cut to some kids who were banging tin cans as though they were conga drums, you could already make out the documentary taste of Gast. The street scenes are also very present: a slightly beat young man with another slightly drunk walk alone in the streets improvising a ‘few moves’ with a passing young lady; the percussionist Ray Barretto as a make believe ice cream man breaking up ice to make ice pops for the kids; the people are gathering in the streets to hear the Harlow Orchestra with the singer Ismael Miranda playing their latest song Proto Salsa directed by Larry Harlow and his electric piano. To note that the Harlow Orchestra played on the steps of one of those classic households in Harlem between rubbish bins and people who were shouting out. After filming a clandestine cock fight in a kind of basement as well as a kind of African or Voodoo rite beneath an underpass, Gast goes back to the ballroom where the Fania are ready for the announced concert with its very eager Hispanic-American audience. “Estrelle De Fania” and all of their pieces of the moment are played including trumpet solos, conga drums solos, Latin choruses and couples dancing or others on their own making moves that would make any modern day Salsa maestro jealous. Trumpets and trombones together, as the rules of the Harlow Orchestra or Johnny Pacheco state, looking after the orchestration of the band (an orchestration that was taken as an example by all Salsa groups in the future). All this as Larry Harlow made me understand initially cost 5000 dollars, almost a years work leaving very little pay for the artists, it was however very important in other ways: it sent Salsa as well as all of the Fania artists into stratosphere making the Hispanic community famous and respected throughout the world.
Thanks to Vampisoul for gave me the Video .

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Interview to Larry Harlow

Larry Harlow is a master legend of Latin music we now call Salsa. He began studying music at the age of 5, following his father's footsteps. He studied at the most prestigious music schools. During mid 50’s, he was so fascinated by Latin rhythms that he travelled and lived in Cuba to study the real Afro-Cuban sound that became known as "Salsa". As an expert "Salsa" artist, he returned to New York to develop his own style and orchestra and later to help create the internationally famous "Fania All Stars" group. While a member and producer of the Fania All Stars for fifteen years, Larry Harlow was not only a recording star with 30 solo albums and 15 with the All Stars, but also a producer of over 160 recordings for other artists.

You grew up in Spanish Harlem. Is this the reason you got involved in Latin Music?
I grew up in Brooklyn, went to high school in Harlem and was first exposed to Musica Latina there.

How important was the decision to go to Cuba in the late 50’s to learn all the principles of Afro Cuban Music right up to the Popular Dances, and how did it influence the formation of your own Latin Style and Salsa too.
Went to Cuba on a Christmas vacation in 1956 for the first time with Mambonicks Kids who were into Latin dancing and music.

Then you formed your first band?
Started Orquestra Harlow in 1964 after several trips to Cuba and years of playing as a sideman with various
bands in NYC area.

What were your first musical influences?
Joe Loce, Noro Morales, Early TP Piccadilly boys and later the big band, Machito and all the Jazz greats.

How did it come about that a not-Latino, became the most important man in Latin Music?
I got very good at what I do. Created new, fresh ideas and developed young artists for recordings. I also studied audio engineering and became a prolific producer of Latin recordings.

Everybody knows you for your six golden records and your four Billboard awards: Pianist of the Year, Latin Producer of the Year, Concert of the Year and Arranger of the year. You are also well known for being the first Latin Music artist to use psychedelic lights at your concerts, adding a completely different element to the scene. I really like this thing. Can you tell me something about that?
When it was in to be psychedelic, I made a light tower that was portable and taught a young guy how to operate them. Wrote a song about them and it kept us working for about 2 years. I also was into the whole ear as well as clothing and drugs.

What are your memories of your experience of the Fania period?

You play a lot of instruments like Oboe, Bass, Flute, Vibraphone and of course the Piano, was this important to the Latin Sound change that you introduced, trombones playing together with trumpets, a sound that everybody copied later on?
NO, I just wanted to have a different sound. No one had utilized the trumpet/trombone sound before in a salsa format. Today it is standard.

You were one of the creators of the Fania All Stars and together with this band you released 15 LP’s. How did the creation of the band come about?
Well I did not put the band together, Pacheco did that along with Masucci. The idea of an all-star band and a movie to promote them was mine. The formula was simple: Bandleader / singer / sideman from each of the main Fania orchestras.

Can you tell me something that no one knows about the “Our Latin Thing” film project? Some out-takes or some little known moments.
There are hundreds, we worked for one year, Leon and myself, razor blade cutting by hand, the first Fania film, no one made any money but we had a lot of fun and all became stars because of this film.

What does it feel like to play in front of 80,000 people who know "Lucumi" music, what is the archetype of Mambo / Salsa music?
Unfortunatly the public in Zaire were not into the "Lucumi music scene". The tourists were there for the fight and we were there to entertain them. The experience was awesome and seeing Africa for the first time was wonderful especially performing and mixing with all those great musicians and entertainers for 10 days.

Tell me your impressions of the 3 day concert in Africa, about James Brown, the Jazz Crusaders and Mohammed Alì, what were your feelings?
It was the experience of a lifetime. Not only the music but to hang with all those great stars and get to know them. Even with Ali and Foreman, who knew that Bundidi Brown was a great stride piano player, we spent hours together and to visit the Presidential Palace and museums were wonderful.

What do you think about the younger generation now looking for your 60’s and 70’s albums and 45’s to play them, not in Salsa and Soul clubs, but in R’n’B clubs?
I think it is great that another generation is using the genre for something.

What do you think about the fusion between Funk and Latin music in the 70’s? Did you ever experiment with Latin Funk?
Had a band called Ambergris in 69-70 signed to Paramount records that combined Latin and Funk. Was a passing fad.

What do you think about today’s electronic music using samples of 60’s and 70’s Latin music to create a new evolution of Latin Sounds?
I hope they don’t forget to send a royalty check… Not my cup of tea.

Do you have any plans for the immediate future? Albums, tours, films, works?
I will do Hommy opera again in Puerto Rico with different singers and some new music. Playing some Latin Jazz lately, producing some new artists and experimenting with video conferencing music programs to universities around the globe.

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Interview to Harvey Averne

I wanted to have a chat with one of the most refined arranger , composer and musician of the Latin music scene from the 50's till today in New York and the rest of the world .
Harvey Averne create the mix of Latin music together with Soul , Funk and Rock now called Latin Crossover .
His track are researched , collected , compiled and spinned by the most Groovy DJ's from the today 60's scene .
He never liked to be on front so theres no so many information about him , thats why i wanted to know more .
I discovered a great artis and a great man and friend!

You are known as the musician that combined Soul and Rock with Latin music, maintaining, in the process, subtle and refined arrangements. How did you obtain such results?

Growing up and living in New York city, which is also known as the great melting pot, I was exposed to latin music at 8 years of age,along with pop and soul, rock came later. Mixing all the elements I love together while keeping the feeling natural & logical was the chalange. Marty Sheller used to play trumpet in my salsa band ( Arvito band) which played pure salsa only, I never wrote an original song or recorded with the Arvito band. We would copy arrangements from records IE: Tito Puente, who was my biggest influence, Cuban recordings etc. Larry Harlow, Eddie Palmieri, Louie Ramierez and many great and talented musicians all played in the Arvito orch. So I guess I had a good eye for talent from the very beginning. The Arvito Band Played dances and clubs including the world famous "Paladium" with all the great latin bands of the day( 1953 thru 1965 . I played vibes & was the band leader. Arvito ( spanish sounding for little Harvey, originally " Harvito" but the" H" was dropped because "Arvito" sounded more spanish. In the late 60s when I started recording for Fania I wanted to combine the all elements to appeal to all audiences and the Harvey Averne Dozen was born. the majority of the arrangements and ideas were in the very capable hands of Marty Sheller, I gave him some ideas, but he understood whatever concept I was cooking up at the time and needed very little guidence, he made it very easy for me. He was my go to guy for all the different" Harvey Averne bands".

You music is often described as Latin Crossover. What do you think?

Yes thats what i was trying to do.

Many of the tracks on your first albums are Pop and Soul covers from that period. What were your musical tastes?

All of the above, salsa, soul, rock, but especially the Beatles, & Sly and the Family Stone,
That is why I always did instrumental versions of thier songs on all my albums but in a very different, highly stylized way, ala the "Harvey Averne Dozen" style which was very original and like no other recording of their great material.

I know that you play the vibraphone and the piano as well as having a fantastic voice. How much has the fact that you
are a musician influenced your career even though you are a producer?

I was never very comfortable performing on stage which is why in 1972 I stopped making the " Harvey Averne" recordings altogether. I was the leader of the " chakachas " in 1972 ( Jungle Fever) which sold over 2 million, we played the Apollo theatre 4 times in 1972 and I was offered to be the head of United Artists Latino lable, I sold my instruments and retired from the stage. I guess I loved Composing, Producing, Mixing ( my love ) promoting, discovering and developing new talent, much more than performing. So to answer your question ( I bet you thought I forgot ) It taught me how to communicate and get the best out of everyone who comes into the studio to work with me.I demand more from talent than they have ever experienced,or gone inside themselves to give before, while I give tremendous freedom and want them to take chances. Remember I fired myself from performing and recording, so YOU better come to workout for me or you know what will happen ( It's not so easy to explain to yourself, when you look in the mirror in the morning, why you got fired by your own self. I love my recordings, but I think the least important element in their success was my playing\performing which did not make me so happy, but in a way limited me. As a producer I work with every facet of the recording, I find this much more important and satisfying.

Marty Sheller, already having arranged for Mongo, worked on a few of your albums. How did the arrangements come about? Was it a two way collaboration or did you occupy yourself with the writing and he with the arrangement?

As I said above the arrangements were the genius of Marty Sheller. We would talk about what was the idea for a song, and Marty would go and make it a much better idea.

You have produced a few of the most sought after albums of Latin Soul - Latin Funk and Boogaloo such as "Camel Walk" by Latinares"or "Cortijo and his Time Machine", right up to
exceptional works by Eddie Palmieri such as "Un Dia Bonito" or "Puerto Rico" and many more. Tell me about your work as a producer.
My best work (for me) has been as a Producer ( which is exactly the same function as a Movie Director, which title was used long before the record business started calling us Producers). A Producer in the movies handles the financing which in the recording industry is the domain of the record company who has the Artist I was hired to Produce under a long term contract usually. My work includes the following, album concept, casting and hiring everyone on the project, directing all performances, which is pretty easy work, because I only work with the very, very, best and get them to suprise themselves and me, because they give me more than their talent, they give me their heart and soul, which you cannot buy for money ever. And after I and everyone is totally happy with their performance. I go into the studio, always alone, to mix, fix, polish,and make love to this beautiful work of art and after hundreds of hours of creating this little masterpiece, I apoligize to the goddess of music for fogiveness, because I have done the best I am capable of doing, and then and only then is the product offered to the public.
I'm very curious about the term "NewYorican Sound". What
does it mean? Do you feel a part of it? " Nuyourican" is a term used to discribe a Puertorican born in New York, not on Puerto Rican soil. To me the New York Salsa is totally different from the mas tipica salsa from the islands of Puerto Rico or Cuba. I have worked with some of the best from Cuba IE: Jose Fajardo, Celia Cruz, Orquesta Broadway, La Lupe, etc. From Puerto Rico IE: Cortijo, Ismael Rivera, Lalo Rodriguez, Danny Rivera and many more. And from New York : Eddie Palmieri, Ray Barretto, Larry Harlow, Hector Lavoe, Willy Colon, Ismael Miranda, Machito, Tito Puente, and many, many more. The sound from Cuba and the sound from Puerto Rico is very different from the New York salsa sound, which is a harder, stronger, swing, if you listen closely, you can hear the taxis & the car horns blasting, and the busy pace, and the tall buidings & the cement streets etc. as in Eddie Palmieri's music. Or life in glorious Havana, back in the day, when you hear Celia Cruz con La Sonora Matancera, or Jose Fajardo, or Orquesta Aaragon, or from Puerto Rico: El Gran Combo, Cortijo con Ismael Rivera, Lalo Rodriguez, Danny Rivera, Frankie Ruiz and many, many,many more. You can hear the palm trees swaying, and you feel the island breeze, and as soon as you get off the plane,you notice that the music is in the air. You ask me if I feel a part of it??? My friend Alessio, all Latin music has and is my life, my heart, my soul, mi sangre, without it my life would not have had any meaning at all.

You have recorded for labels, well-known and not so well-known, such as Atlantic, Fania or Heavy Duty. Each album is quite different but always maintaining the typical Harvery Averne Sound.
Which label has given you most space for experimentation?

I have been very lucky and from the first Atlantic recording which was originally recorded for Fania, I have always had complete creative control and freedom, and for that I thank Jerry Masucci from fania, Jerry Wexler and Arif Mardin from Atlantic, Mike stewart and Mike Lipton from United Artists, Morris Levy from Roullete and Tico, etc. But my best work was for my own company "COCO RECORDS " because it was my money on the line I could follow the production with a specialized promotion to the media, radio, clubs, public etc . the participation from the signing of the Artist to the release of the album and everything in between was amazing & the results were awesome.

Personally, I discovered you after the release of "Heavy Duty" on Acid Jazz records in 1994, after which I began to look out
for you. What do you think of the rediscovery of bands and sounds by new labels and the consequent rebirth of the sound of the 60's and 70's?
Acid Jazz has never given me a royalty or any money since the mid 90s, I like the exposure, but one of these days I will sue their ass off!!! I still own heavy Duty Records and the "harvey Averne Barrio Band" album and the "Toro" album and they are still available for license in some countries, including Italy, England, France, Japan, and others.

Your vinyl records are sold at auction and are quite rare. What was the distribution in the 70's like? Was there much call for that type of music?

Not as good as now. France, French speaking Africa, Spain, were the most important in Europe. on a lesser level Italy, England, Holland etc. Of course South America, Carribean, and USA were the strongest.

What are you doing now? Productions? arrangements? What are your plans for the future?

I am the President\Ceo of a new Reggaeton company, with two partners, Alex Masucci and a wonderful young talented producer of hip hop & reggaeton Willy LA Fama. We are finishing a tribute reggaeton record inspired by my dear friend Ray Barretto's monster hit of the 60s "El Watusi".

Just recently Ray Barretto passed away. You knew him, whatmemory do you have of him?
I Produced his 1st. album for Fania Records "Acid" a monster classic. he was a great artist, congero, composer, person,. He did more for JAZZ groups using conga than anyone who ever lived and his SALSA recordings are his legacy. He will be missed and never replaced or forgotten, one of the most important artists in salsa history.

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

the sun IS ra!

if you want to Open up yOur mind have a listen to Sun RA!

it's not impossible !

an explosion of joyness !
a Martini or a Campari ! yeah!
it’s sounds happy , it’s sounds groovy , it’s sounS Venezuelan....
After a long period of thinking it happened !
the sound is fresh ,
the sound is cool
the sound...... sounds good
Im good too

Monday, November 06, 2006

interview to Joe Bataan

Joe Bataan begins his musical journey in the 50's, he forms his first band in 1965 and in 1967 he begins to record for Jerry Masucci's Fania Records label, the most important Latin Music label. Later he co-forms the Mericana/Salsoul which brings us up to his last record in 1979 "Rap-o Clap-o" which forestall the Rap movement. Raised in Spanish Harlem he frequents Porto Rican gangs and he refines his Soul with Afro-Cuban, R'n'B, and Afro-Rican influences.In the 60's, during the Boogaloo explosion, he creates Latin Soul which later became Latin Funk and later, in the late 70's , Latin Disco .The characteristics of his Street Latin Soul remains that of always wanting to tell the stories of the streets. "Ordinary Guy", "Gypsy Woman", "What Good is a Castle", "Under the Street Lamp" and "La Botella" ( latin version of the great Gil Scott Heron's "The Bottle"), are some of his hits!And now, after 20 years, Bataan returns with "Call My Name", an album, once again recorded in New York for the Vampisoul label, in which we seem to have been transported back to the 60's.

What do you remember about the Porto Rican gangs experience in the New York's Spanish Harlem?

The Gangs of New York were The Victory's, the Cahaplains, Red Wings and the Dragons of which I was a member and much later the leader in Spanish Harlem. Each gang dressed differently and lived in separate areas of New York. There was a code of honour where no one told another gang member his business and gang members had control of their neighbourhoods.

How did you start thinking about the way to put together Latin and Soul Music?

After listening to Show Musicals, Rock and Roll and RnB I got the idea to fuse Latin with English lyrics as an experiment. I listened to Joe Cuba, Hector Rivera and Pete Rodriguez and was inspired to do the same. Only difference was that my style had stories of life in the streets and much of my life was involved in my songs. This is why I became a street singer.

What were your favourite bands you used to listen to?

My favourite bands were Eddie Palmieri, Joe Cuba, Tito Rodriquez and Tower of Power.

Jerry Masucci was very important for you, tell us about the Fania period.

Jerry Masucci was very young and was not afraid to take a chance with my ideas. Eventually I outgrew his label and I’m still trying to collect money this company owes me.

How was the relationship with other Fania musicians like Barretto, Larry Harlow?

I got along with these musicians but you must remember my style of playing and my music took me in different directions internationally and spread my name worldwide. I was an artist that brought a unique style of music to the world that is very different than the rest of these musicians of Fania Records.

Tell us about the Mericana and SalSoul period.

Mericana and Salsoul Records were my creation, I sold the interests of Salsoul very foolishly after I created the name Sal for Salsa and Sol for Soul. I was very successful with these labels and was the first artist to build this dream of a company. This company also did not live up to their agreement and I am in position to collect much money they owe me with the help of God. However this was an exciting period for me because of Rapo Clapo and the international success I got.

What do you think about this Salsoul music rebirth?

The Soulsoul rebirth is good for everyone including me, finally I will get a chance to be heard around the world and the public has a chance to hear my full collection of music of over forty years.

Tell us about the way you came back to all your fans with the new album "Call my name"

God has a plan for Joe Bataan and it is to spread his name and my music, will reflex my sound and the chance I am getting to do some good with my music. Of course this is an exciting thing that’s happening to me. Not many people get a second chance in their lives, I already had over twenty. Now it is time for me to pay up for my blessings.

What do you think about today’s electronic music which makes use of samples of Latin / Brazilian music?

All music is good and we should always find avenues to experiment. This is what makes music an exciting art form. I love Brazilian music.

What are your future plans, will there be a tour, new projects, are you coming to Italy?

I believe they are arranging a tour in Italy and Europe. I have another album to be completed in the summer called "The Message" and I’m looking for a record deal with Vampisoul or anyone that may be interested in Joe Bataan.

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Joe Bataan mr New York soul

On the occasion of the release of the new exceptional album by Joe Bataan on the Vampisoul label I wrote this thing about this great artist and then i had a chat with him. Nobody has such street credibility as Joe, born in Spanish Harlem it was he who created Latin Soul and even anticipated disco and rap. Peter Nitollano (his real name) was born in 1942 to Afro / Philippine parents and was brought up in Spanish Harlem where during the 50’s he joined some Porto Rican gangs. In fact it was in prison that he first became passionate about music that gave him the strength, spirit and courage to start a new life. Characteristics of Joe are his lyrics that are all too often autobiographical, a kind of melancholy through his way of singing with that slightly out of tune way that has made him one of the most appreciated and admired Latin Soul singers. Latin Soul is in fact the genre that he created by forging together Afro American R’n’B sounds with Afro Cuban and Afro Rican rhythms. During the sixties, after a few misunderstandings with some impresarios who didn’t understand his style and just wanted him as a kind of ‘Latin James Brown’, he was finally heard and understood by Jerry Masucci who was the boss of Fania Records which was the most important recording label for Latin music. Thus the career of Mr. New York Soul Joe Bataan started. “Gypsy Woman”, his first album, was a true success as well as something completely new as Joe played Latin music but sung in English with a Pop R’n’B feel that was anticipated and simplified thanks also to a Break characteristic ‘double hand clap’, The Latin Soul Sound was beginning to come about thanks to the above mentioned fusion. During his career Bataan made many records with Fania including “St. Latin’s Day Massacre”, “Riot”, “Subway Joe” and “Singing Some Soul” where he reinterpreted some Philly Sound pieces of artists such as the Intruders, O’Jays and others. Through the years Bataan managed to create a genre that could be defined as a crossover where he Latinized Soul, Funk, Disco and vice versa! After the Fania period, around 1974, Bataan started the Mericana / Salsoul label along with Epic, a term that confirms this fusion between Salsa and Soul specialising in ‘crossover’ productions. The first album on this new label was “Salsoul” where Joe wrote some incredible pieces such as “After Shower Funk” or the Acid Latin “Fin” right up to “Super Strut” by Eumir Deodato renamed “Latin Strut”. On this album there are all the ‘Soul Beat’ ingredients and the fusion between Salsa and Funk is enriched by some Soulful Orchestration. In 1975 Bataan made a great commercial move and published “Afrofilipino” where his anticipation to disco music was more than clear. The great commercial success was due to an instrumental cover version of “The Bottle”, the Gil Scott Heron hit. There were also many other high points on this record like “Woman Don’t Want To Love Me”, the latest version of his classic “Ordinary Guy”, “When You’re Down (Funky Mambo)” finishing off with “Laughing And Crying” that, in my opinion, was the main influence for Jamiroquai for his song “Emergency On Planet Earth”! In 1979 Bataan gained success with his “Rap O Clap O” which was a piece that made history in the story of Latin music and one that practically invented rap. Out now, in 2005, is “Call My Name” the new album from Joe Bataan where the eclectic and groovy Vampisoul have wanted to bring to the public after almost 20 years the soul of Mr. New York. The extraordinary thing about this album is the fact that it is not a re-pressing (something that Vampisoul specialise in) but instead a brand new album that was recorded last year in New York. This piece of work that is produced by Daniel Collas encloses the whole soul of Bataan and confirms once again his unmistakable style. Peace friendship and solidarity.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

MPS Musik produktion Swarzwald

At the end of the 60’s Düsseldorf wasn’t the first German city to start proposing different music to the European and Worldwide public thanks to such groups as Kratwerk and Neu, it wasn’t the last one either. Right in the middle of the Black Forest there is a little town called Villigen that would become a kind of Mecca for a new type of Jazz, the so called Krautjazz. In this town, during those days, there was born the label MPS Musik Produktion Shwarzwald. MPS was a kind of open house to experimentation, for that regarding the type of jazz as well as its instrumentation, things like the Indian Sitar, new recording techniques or instrumentation such as the Moog that had never been used for jazz, at least not in that period. MPS touched on Latin tastes, oriental sounds, vocal jazz, scat jazz, space spirituals and jazzy experimentations that anticipated the so called Jazz Fusion of the 70’s. Inside 15 years MPS published 700 titles, many of them of the highest quality. The boss of this label was the pianist Hans George Brunner Schwer who started off in 1968 with a session called ‘Midnight Session’, a kind of private session with the mythical Oscar Peterson, I have to point out though that there exist recordings before this date such as “SABA Stereo Sound”. Many jazz artists, not only European, wanted to make albums on MPS: from Oscar Peterson (as mentioned before) with “Exclusively For My Friends” (from Vol. 1 to Vol. 6 – 1963/1968) to Pony Poindexter, then Mark Murphy, Archie Shepp, Bill Evans, Maynard Ferguson, Novi Quartet, the Polish Novi Singers, Wolfgang Dauner, Dave Pike, Art Farmer, Johnny Teupen, Red Garland, George Duke, Karin Krog or Charlie Antolini and his Soul Beat. At the beginning of the 90’s the maestro Gilles Peterson put together a series of compilations containing many pieces from this label (“Talkin’ Jazz”) creating the same effect on the market as the Blow Up DJ’s in London with the label Music Library (see my last column). Thanks to him, and the DJ’s of Mojo as well as my willingness to learn, I started hunting down original MPS pieces of vinyl, even if the coming about of compilations has heightened the prices even more on the market. When you got an original copy in your hands you began to realise also that whoever it was who wrote the credits on the Talkin Loud compilations made a few mistakes in their citations… sadly enough this also happens with me. Seeing as I am a lover of the Sitar I started looking for the works by the Dave Pike Set like “Four Reasons” or “Infra Red”, that’s without mentioning “Noisy Silence Gentle Noise” which contains “Mathar”, then there was “The Oimels” by Wolfgang Dauner but I don’t wish to mention just the better known titles… Many productions contained standards as well as a few gems that could be used in a ‘Soul Beat’ ambience but in general you weren’t talking about classic jazz because it always had that something extra. Just a short while ago I realised that Charlie Antolini had called one of his albums ‘Soul Beat’, thus I understood that my taste is that which was and is the Soul Beat for roughly 35 years. Now, as usual, I will make a list of some titles I have selected for you: The Singers Unlimited “Ctyri Z Nàs” (Polish versions of course), Johnny Teupen “Plays Harp”, Baden Powel “Images On Guitar”, Dave Pike Set “Four Reasons”, Ira Kriss “Jazzanova”, Bora Rokovic “Ultra Native”, Wolfgang Dauner “Etcetera Live”, “The Oimels” and “Jankows Keyboard”… naturally there are also loads of others. The fact remains that a lot of the time you think of American jazz as conventional jazz but just like all of the things in the Soul Beat colours and nations are relative… The Soul Beat continues its journey towards the truth of the groove. Til next time and… peace all over the forests!

interview to Airto Moreira

This time I would like to propose a chat with one of the Jazz legends I always love because of his way to be a kind of a magical percussion player , a guru .And when i met him , my sensation was to talk to a Witchdoctor... I had the chance of hearing Airto play as a guest star for an Italian group and I thought about talking to him to find out a bit more about a side of him that is little known to the public. Airto Moreira is known above all for his collaborations with Miles Davis, Weather Report and many other Jazz musicians such as Chick Corea or John McLaughlin or Keith Jarrett or even Quincy Jones, Paul Simon, Chicago, Herbie Hancock etc.. In this brief discussion I wanted to focus on the Brazilian period before he went off to New York and met all of the above mentioned names that made him become somewhat of a legend. We also spoke of New York, it was inevitable!

I am very interested in your starting out period when you played in groups such as Sambalanco Trio in 1965 with Cesar Camargo Mariano on piano and Humberto Clayber on bass or with the Sambrasa Trio also in 1965 with Hermeto Pascoal where you played the drums and this trio was very different from the others because its sound was very innovative and very articulate, simple but creative at the same time.

It’s true, here also there was much space and we were very young and ambition was sky high, we had much space up until Cesar at a certain point decided to leave the Sambalanco Trio for a singer called Marisa. We asked him to stay but he was convinced and in love, he wanted to start producing records for Marisa and so he left. Speaking with Hermeto it came out that he really liked our sound and so we decided to ask him to join us. Hermeto joined up on the condition that we changed the name from the Sambalanco Trio to the Sambrasa Trio, we agreed and with his Flute playing the sound became even richer and new, that’s when Flora Purim began singing with us.

The record entitled “Quarteto Novo” in 1967 changed the face of Brazilian music. The sound was very pure, classic but innovative at the same time. That quartet didn’t last very long, what do you remember about that period?

It was a very happy period and musically deep, the group was riding high and everybody couldn’t wait to get into the studio and play, experiment and create. The lovely thing was that, once again, there was enough room for everybody’s creativeness.

Then, after that period, Flora Purim went to New York and you followed her some time after. How did two Brazilians feel in New York?

It was fantastic, it was like being in a film and we were a part of that film. I was 23 and had difficulties because I didn’t speak English. Then we began to meet musicians like JJ Johnson, Cedar Walton and the bass player Walter Booket, then thanks to Walter we began playing with Adderley, Lee Morgan and Paul Desmon as well as Zawinul who put me onto Davis.

There started something that everybody calls ‘Jazz Fusion’ and albums like “Free” and “Fingers” were the start of this sound. The mixture between the sound of Jazz musicians like Hubert Laws or Ron Carter from CTI along with your typical touch created this kind of new sound, how would you define it?

I would simply define it as ‘Brazilian Jazz’.

You have collaborated with many musicians as a percussionist but also as a producer, I would like to ask you something about one of your productions that is very dear to me: “Amazon” by Cal Tjader from 1976?

In the beginning it was very hard work, this record united typical Californian Latin jazz with Brazilian influences. We worked on the project for more than three weeks and the result was amazing, I remember well Cal, when I see the cover it still moves me a lot, it was a great time.

What future projects do you have, are you recording anything?

Flora and myself are continuously recording, we then propose the material to labels for its publication. At the moment I am starting a 3 week tour of Japan and USA with Chick Corea and Eddie Gomez.

Ray Barretto sadly passed away not too long ago, he was also a great percussionist, did you know him?

Yes I knew him, Ray was a brilliant percussionist as well as a great person, the last time I saw him was two years ago in Barbados where we were both there for playing, we crossed each others paths quickly and then I never saw him again.

As you have probably understood Airto, just like all of the others who I have had the pleasure of interviewing, is a very simple person. His way of being made you feel that you were talking to some kind of saint or Macumbero, an experience that once again enriched my Soul Beat spirit, I hope it did the same for you. Peace all over the land.

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