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

Ray Barretto – Barretto Power (1970) (2020 Craft Records)

Ray Barretto – Barretto Power (1970)
Original release, Fania Records
This reissue, 2020 Craft Recordings CR003300

Have I mentioned how fantastic it is that the Fania catalog is finally being curated with the respect and attention to quality and detail that the music deserves?  After decades of crap CD remasterings, brick-walled for iTunes, Concord records has acquired the rights along with the family of labels Fania acquired when they bought out their competition (e.g. Alegre, Tico) and has been contracting the very skilled mastering engineer Kevin Gray of CoHearant Audio to do the honors. Continue reading

Marion Brown – Porto Novo (1969) (2020 RSD Org Music)

Marion Brown – Porto Novo
Original release 1969 as Polydor 583 724
Reissued in 1975 as Arista/Freedom AL 1001
This reissue, 2020 ORG Music / Freedom (ORGM-2149)

I thought a change of pace was warranted here to correspond with a new chapter in my life.  Marion Brown played pretty “free” but he could still swing as well as squonk.  He made this album a few years after moving to Europe in the late 60s.  It’s hard at times to believe this is just three people. The lively, engaging drum and cymbal work by a young Hans Bennink deserves special mention here.  Originally released with a different cover on the Polydor label, this 2020 Record Store Day reissue uses the image from the mid-70s Arista version but is pressed on gorgeous red vinyl.  I’ve included a variety of alternate covers below just for fun. 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

Roland Haynes – 2nd Wave (1975) (2020 Black Jazz / Real Gone Music)

 

It’s a total coincidence (or is it?) that my first two posts about the Black Jazz reissues have been by keyboardists, without any brass or reeds in their band. Weird, eh? This record, “2nd Wave” is great stuff by a one-and-done mysterious key tickler, Roland Haynes. There are actually two Fender Rhodes players here, so that should be welcomed by those of you for whom there is Never Enough Rhodes.  Not much is known about Roland Haynes, a situation that is not cleared up by the liner notes by Pat Thomas in the insert.  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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