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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El Gran Combo – Por El Libro (1972) (EGC Records LPS-003)

El Gran Combo – Por El Libro
1972 EGC Records LPS 003

Vinyl rip in 24-bit/96 kHz | FLAC |  Art scans at 300 dpi

El Gran Combo is practically an institution in Puerto Rico, they have been around so long and had so many members over the years.  The group has also served as a launching pad for a number of artists who have gone on to solo careers. This is a pretty solid early-70’s record. Particular highlights are compositions by the prolific Claudio Ferrer, and the gorgeous, moody “Estas Equiviocado” by Osvaldo Farres (of “Quizas, Quizas, Quizas” fame).

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Angel Canales – El Diferente (1981) (Senelac Records LP8881)


Angel Canales – El Diferente
1982 Senelac Records LP 8881
Salsa / Latin-Jazz / Fusion

Well Brazil has jumped the shark, so I’m going to devote some musical energy to other places for a while.  The U.S. still has a chance of climbing back out of the rabbit hole it’s gone down.  And that is in no small part due to the ever-evolving demographic changes that terrify the White Nationalists so much.  So, here’s an album from the great Ángel Canales, born in Santurce, PR, but raised in New York.  His recording career began on Alegre Records with a record featuring a sexy but somewhat bizarre album cover and a hit in “Lejos De Ti”.  By the 1980s, he was putting out records on his own label, SENALAC.  This one features a blistering-hot band, with amazing baritone sax blowing by Pete Miranda, and charismatic Canales leading the proceedings. While “El Diferente” is still firmly rooted in salsa, bomba, and plena traditions, there is also a fusion edge to the band’s versatility and ability to surprise with their arrangements (done by no less than six different people).  Continue reading