Tito Puente – The Latin World of Tito Puente (1964, Mono)

Mambos, cha chas, son montunos, pachangas, Latin jazz… Tito Puente played all of those, and he apparently never liked the catch-all term “salsa” (and he stayed out of Fania Records’ orbit, for the most part).  And he has a point – each of the sub-genres and rhythms (and there are many more than those listed here) have their own backstory and sensibility….

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Joe Cuba Sextet – Wanted Dead Or Alive (Bang Bang! Push Push Push!) (1966)

Joe Cuba Sextet – Wanted Dead or Alive (Bang! Bang! Push, Push, Push)
1975 Fania/Tico Repress SLP-1146, Mono mix |||  1966 (Original release)

You can’t really talk about the Latin boogaloo without mentioning the song “Bang! Bang!”. The Joe Cuba Sextet had been around the flourishing New York scene for a while by this time, and had a bunch of records under their collective belts, so you can’t exactly call this a ‘breakthrough album.’ But the song – allegedly written on the spot during a live gig – catapulted them to newfound heights of popularity. But it’s definitely not all boogaloo either on this record, and the closing tune here, Cocinando, jams for 9 minutes in what is a prescient template of the genre that would soon become known as “salsa” around the world.  This is just fun music in every way, and a great way to get your summer started if you are in the Northern Hemisphere! Continue reading

Joe Cuba Sextet – Vagabundeando (Hangin’ Out) (1964)


Joe Cuba Sextet – Vagabundeando! (Hangin’ Out)
1964 Tico Records SLP-1112
1990s CD reissue (undated)

The Good Doctor has been busy shaping young minds and maybe some hearts in recent days, toiling away on a class where I hopefully provoke them to think about music in different ways than they had before.  And while there is almost always a soundtrack involved, I have precious little time to share it with you all.  Here is another offering from the Joe Cuba Sextet, pre-boogaloo, containing so many of the elements of what would soon become the global phenomenon known as ‘salsa’.  Personal favorites here include Quinto Sabroso, Nina Nina, and El Raton, this last track a composition from Cheo Feliciano whose vocals grace the album.  Continue reading

Juan Formell y Los Van Van – Vol. III (1974)


Juan Formell & Los Van Van
Juan Formel & Los Van Van (Vol. III)
Label: Egrem – CD 0128
Series: Coleccion Juan Formell Y Los Van Van – Vol. III
Format: CD, Album, Reissue, Special Edition
Cuba, 1995
Genre: Latin, Funk / Soul
Style: Funk, Son, Salsa, Cubano

Well, dear friends, I had planned to post something special for my birthday, which was two weeks ago, but being the notorious party animal that I am, time went out the window as I left a trail of havoc and destruction in my wake.  Actually, I spent the night alone, mildly intoxicated, and rewatching episodes of Flight of the Conchords.  In any event, not as if a record by Los Van Van isn’t special (I haven’t heard a bad one yet), but this was not the post I had planned to do.  It’s a lovely record and sounds like it could have been recorded at the same sessions as their other release from 1974.  It opens with a piece (Llegué Llegue / Guararey de Pastora)  that could maybe have been inspired by Fela Kuti.  Another tune (De Todo Lo Mejor) reminds me of chansón.  Both are real possibilities with someone as forward-thinking at Juan Formell.  Lots of Vox and/or Farfisa organ all over the place too. The album may not have any monster earworms like Chirrin Chirran from their previous release (though Sera Tan Grande El Amor comes very close), but it’s no slouch either!

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Joe Cuba – Steppin’ Out (1963, Mono)

Joe Cuba – Steppin’ Out
 Seeco SCLP 9248
Original release 1963
This pressing, late 60s / early 70s
Style: Pachanga, Mambo, Guaguancó, Cha-Cha, Bolero, Salsa

The back cover of this early Joe Cuba LP includes instructions on how to dance the ‘Wabble Cha’, a dance step I presumed they hoped would take the world by storm. There are two great vocalists on this record – Cheo Feliciano and Jimmy Sabater.  “To Be With You” would become Sabater’s trademark song.

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