Luis Kalaff y Sus Alegres Dominicanos – Arriba! Santo Domingo (1970)

Luis Kalaff was one of the godfathers of merengue in the Dominican Republic.  His sound took elements of the rural, accordion-based merengue típico and combined it with the style forged by the saxophone-led, big band merengue that came into style during the years of its efflorescence under dictator Rafael Trujillo, who essentially made the style into the semi-official national genre by imposing his taste on the country’s elites (he was from the Cibao region where merengue got its start).

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Hermeto Pascoal e Grupo – Lagoa da Canoa Municipio de Arapiraca (1984)

Hermeto Pascoal E Grupo
Lagoa Da Canoa Município De Arapiraca
Original release 1984, Som da Gente
This issue, 1988  Happy Hour Music HH5005-2

Normally, during this time of year, I like to post some forró pé de serra and baião to commemorate the marvelous Festas Juninas I came to appreciate when I lived in the northeast of Brazil.  It’s not as if I’ve run out of vintage forró records to post about on the blog, but I feel I could use a change of pace.  I’ve been experiencing some pretty wicked job burnout and other related issues that have put me in an odd state of mind and, with unfortunate frequency, a rather foul mood.  Hence, Hermeto Pascoal is kind of just what the proverbial doctor ordered: something to alleviate the foul mood by way of resonating with odd and the uncomfortable.  Hermeto’s music can be disorienting in the most humanistic of ways. Continue reading

Horace Tapscott Quintet – The Giant Is Awakened (1969)

Horace Tapscott Quintet
The Giant Is Awakened
1969 original release, Flying Dutchman
2020, this reissue Real Gone Music RGM-1012

Juneteenth is now a federal holiday in the United States.  I don’t wish to take away from the significance of that recognition, especially for those old enough to remember the days of Jim Crow.  But you’ll have to indulge my skepticism about whether this represents a movement toward genuine reckoning and reparations, or whether its a gesture to make white folks feel better.   But while you have your red drink of choice today, and reflect on history and which parts of the past are not past, maybe you can also enjoy this monumental album from the Horace Tapscott Quintet, featuring Arthur Blythe on saxophone.  Tapscott was engaged with a variety of endeavors aligned with a radical black political vision, from the Pan-Afrikan Peoples Arkestra and the UMGAA, to supplying music for an album by Elaine Brown of the Panthers.

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Chester Thompson – Powerhouse (1971) (2021 Black Jazz / RGM)

 

Chester Thompson – Powerhouse
2021 Real Gone Music RGM-1202 / Original Release 1971 Black Jazz

This is a short (seriously short, only 27 minutes) but sweet LP from future Tower of Power and Santana organist, Chester Thompson.  Not to be confused with the drummer Chester Thompson, who toured with Genesis in the post-Peter Gabriel years and also played in Santana’s 1980’s lineup at the same time as this Chester, which caused this Chester to start using his middle initial to help people keep them straight.  There is also a song called Mr. T that predates the A-Team by a decade.  Now that we’ve got that out of the way, the music:

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Gal Costa – Gal (1969) (Mono mix)


Gal Costa – Gal
1969 Philips R 765.098 L

The great Gal Costa released two classic Tropicália records in 1969, and this one is widely known as the mind-bendingly psychedelic monster of the two.  The version presented here is the original mono mix and not the stereo mix that appeared on the Gal Total boxset and later in a Polysom reissue.  Gal has always surrounded herself with musical heavyweights but she was keeping particularly heady company at this time: this record has substantial involvement from Gil, Caetano and Jards Macalé (who would serve as her musical director not long after this).  No less than two compositions from Jorge Ben are featured here, including the rather deep cut “Tuareg” in a particularly funky arrangement. Continue reading

Tim Maia – Disco Club (1978) (2018 Mr. Bongo reissue)

Tim Maia – Disco Club
2018 Mr. Bongo MRBLP156/ Original release 1978 Atlantic (Brazil)

I am making this blog post on May 31 so that it cannot be said that the first six months of 2020 did not have any Brazilian content whatsoever from Flabbergasted Vibes.  I guess I have been kind of ‘down’ on Brazil lately – fascism has run / been running amok there and the Covid situation is just heartbreaking.  Something’s got to change.  But today is a holiday in the U.S. and the unofficial start of summer, so in case your BBQ needs a soundtrack, here’s a fun Tim Maia album.  If you are totally new to Tim Maia, I personally wouldn’t pick Disco Club as an introduction. Not because I have a problem with the disco sound of a few tunes (and there are lots of soul tunes and a couple of funk slammers too, in case you have an irrational aversion to disco). Actually the first two tunes are an unapologetic-ally commercial take on disco without any of the underground currents or ripples which make that genre interesting, though ‘Ascendo O Farol’ scored a big hit for Tim.  But putting that aside, mostly I just don’t get as excited about this album as I do about most of his other records made both before and after this one. Lots of people love the record though, so YMMV. Contributions from Hyldon and Cassiano (who died this year from Covid-19)  help keep things lively.   Worth having just for ‘Sossego’ alone, but there are lots of great songs here. Continue reading