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Interview: Eric Banta (Names You Can Trust)

April 15th, 2013 Posted in Breaks, Colombia, Cumbia, Interviews, Latin Funk | No Comments »

I had the chance to meet up with Eric Banta, Label Manager for NYCTrust, while he was in the Bay Area recently for some DJ gigs. Eric and I talked about his role in the NYCTrust label and the influence it has ended up having in highlighting some great new bands from Bogotá, Colombia.

nyct

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Adam Dunbar: Please introduce yourself and your record label, Names You Can Trust.

Eric Banta: My name is Eric Banta otherwise known as E’s E, and I’m one of the founders of the Names You Can Trust record label. The way it began is it started in 2005 or 2006 with myself and Oneman and Monk One coming together to create a label that would be an outlet to release music that we were feeling at time, but also to create something that we could call our own.

AD: Where did the strong Latin vibe that permeates through your label come from, and how did you decide to start putting all this great stuff out?

EB: It was kind of a natural progression of what we were into at the time. We were always into salsa music from NYC and Puerto Rico, but then we started getting more into South American styles like Cumbia, other music from Colombia, Panama, and Chile and also Peruvian Chicha. You know how it is: as a record digger in general you just get exposed to different styles of music, especially being in NYC. So, it was something that we had been into for a while and we just wound up making some stuff as Greenwood Rhythm Coalition [E’s E and Monk One] that had a Latin influence. It turns out our tracks like “Guajira ‘78” and others ended up being very well received. But we weren’t really setting out to tackle Latin music specifically; it was just something that we were doing that we loved. Making those first few records led us into contact with other crucial folks, though. We wound up getting in touch with Frento Cumbiero and Mario Galeano Toro in Bogotá, Colombia.


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Trinidad Goes Latin

January 29th, 2013 Posted in Calypso, Caribbean, Covers, Rhumba, Trinidad | 1 Comment »

The island of Trinidad, the cradle of Calypso, is home to an incredible history of unique music. As with pretty much anywhere in the musical melting pot of the Caribbean, influences and styles cross-pollinated freely. The Mambo and Cha Cha Cha crazes of the 50s and 60s left their mark throughout Latin America and the Caribbean and this blog is pretty much devoted to just such cultural exchanges. This week’s episode features two obscure Trinidadian 45s recently obtained on a dusty digging expedition in Brooklyn, NYC, which both reveal the beautiful things that happened when Latin music found influence in Trinidad.

The Monogram Caribbean Orchestra played with none other than the legendary Calypsonian Lord Kitchener, but is virtually unknown beyond that (try Google if you don’t believe me!). Here they do a blistering tune called “Calypso Cha-Cha For Spooks” that’s more of a slow Calypso-Rhumba than a Cha Cha Cha, but that’s hardly the point. Stylish soloists go to town over the brooding bassline and drum beat, with piano, flute, trumpet, guitar and alto sax all doing their spookiest. They were certainly a talented group of musicians, and I wonder who else they played with?!

Next up is Pete De Vlugt & Orchestra doing “Caremelos (Twist)”. It’s a cover of Sonora Matancera’s tune of the same name, which provided a young Celia Cruz with an early hit. This totally reminds me of Congan Rhumba music (itself also heavily influenced by Cuban groups like Sonora Matancera), and no doubt you will agree once you press play. The swinging piano and melodic horns are simply beautiful. Enjoy the heavy Tropical vibes!

Monogram Caribbean Orchestra: “Calypso Cha-Cha For Spooks”
From the Monogram 7″ (USA)

Pete De Vlugt & Orchestra: “Caremelos (Twist)”
From the RCA Victor 7″ (Trinidad, W.I.)

GUEST MIX: DJ Sport Casual

November 13th, 2012 Posted in Afro, Colombia, Cumbia, Guest Post, Latin Funk, Latin Psych, Mixes | 1 Comment »

Despite New York City’s grim situation these days in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, Brooklyn-based DJ Sport Casual hit me up with this killer mix of wild Afro Latin goodness appropriately titled “Afro Latin”. Exploring an esoteric array of African and Latin music, the mix includes everything from Colombian Highlife played by midgets to a psychedelic cumbia about E.T.!

Light one up, play it loud, and don’t forget to have a drink in honor of all our friends in NYC having a difficult time right now!

 

DJ Sport Casual – Afro Latino
Future Funk guest mix for Musica Del Alma

Tracklist:
Mandela
El Evangelio
El Regreso de E.T.
Lucky El Rastrillo
Shango
Brisas De Cartagena
Sabor a Selva
Si Dios Fuera Negro
Esa Morena
Muamba, Banana e Cola
D.K. Njohera
Loumusu
Periquito con Arroz
Paloma Blanca
Tumba Hombres
La Cocha Pechocha

NEW MIX: Cumbia Costeña

October 15th, 2012 Posted in Colombia, Cumbia, Mixes | 2 Comments »

I am happy to finally unleash the fruits of an incredible trip to the Caribbean coast of Colombia (La Costa) earlier this summer. Along with my partner in grime, San Antonio’s own Alex LaRotta, I hit up record spots from Antioquia to Soledad looking for the deepest Cumbia and heaviest Salsa I could find in a month’s time. Since returning back home stateside, the result is my latest mixtape called Cumbia Costeña: a seamless mix of heavy accordeon & flute destruction. Featuring songs from famous Vallenato musicians like Alejo Duran to more obscure Costeños like Heber Macias, the mix attempts to provide a non-stop, beat-matched exploration of the musical patrimony of the storied Caribbean coast of Colombia.

I highly recommend you crack a nice bottle of Aguardiente or Rum before you press play!

Cumbia Costeña by DJ Slim Jenkins
A Musica Del Alma Mixtape Production

Alejo Duran y su Conjunto: “Cumbia Costeña” (Fuentes)
Heber Macias: “Cumbia Linda” (Cupido)
Alberto Pacheco: “Santo Domingo” (Fuentes)
Los Corraleros de Majagual: “La Butifarra” (Fuentes)
Anibal Velasquez: “La Cumbia de Guatapa” (Discos Colombia)
Anibal Velasquez: “Mi Cumbia” (Union Musical, Venezuela)
Simon Mendoza y su Cordobesa: “Goza Marucha” (Philips)
La Monteria Swing: “La Pua” (Fuentes)
Catalino de Barranquilla y su Combo: “Tambores de Mi Tierra” (Orbe)
Juan Piña y sus Muchachos: “Zapatico Viejo” (Fuentes)
Lito Barrientos: “Oye Mi Cumbia” (Tropical)
Edmundo Arias y su Orquesta: “Venenosa” (Sonolux)
Rufo Garrido: “Se Baila Asi” (Philips)
Toño y su Combo: “Cumbia Soberana” (Philips)
Sonora Curro: “El Pajaro Prieto” (Philips)

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As mentioned above, my friend and fellow vinyl enthusiast Alex LaRotta was an indispensable digging companion on this trip. He has also just released a Cumbia mix, this one just as earth rumbling as Cumbia Costeña. It’s called ¡GUEPA CARAMBA! and it’s hosted on the always-fresh Nertorious Audioblog.

Have a listen!

GUEST MIX: Funk Nocturno by Morris

September 14th, 2012 Posted in Breaks, Cuba, Latin Funk, Latin Psych, Mixes | 1 Comment »

Chris Morris was kind enough to share this nice mix of Cuban Funk with us, which he recently prepared to hype his new website Expreso Ritmico devoted to the beautiful art featured on Cuban LP covers. Take as listen below to a combination of the heaviest funk tracks from the storied Caribbean isle of Cuba, a country whose impact on Música Latina can never be overstated!

Expreso Ritmico, a website dedicated to Cuban album art and design, started as an idea a few years ago. It wasn’t until early 2012 that I was able to press the ON button and launch the website. Slim Jenkins and others have been of great support and contributed many albums to the growing gallery of Cuban Music since. Slim Jenkins and his Música del Alma blog have hosted a few of my Cuba-related mixes in the past for which I am very grateful. I put together a new one, a celebration and sneak peak as the first in a series of mixes for the upcoming Expreso Ritmico blog. -Morris

Funk Nocturno by Morris
Expreso Ritmico: 01

Grupo Irakere: “Bacalao Con Pan”
Los Chikichaka: “Suspirando Por El Chikichaka”
Juan Pablo Torres: “Son A Propulsion”
Ricardo Eddy Martinez: ‘Tamba Iya”
Los Brito: “El 4-5-6″
Grupo Monumental: “Limitacion”
Los Reyes ’73: “Adeoey”
Los Van Van: “Mi Ritmo Caliente”
Orquesta Riverside: “En Casa Del Trompo No Bailes”
Juan Pablo Torres: “Que Se Sepa”
Juan Pablo Torres: “Cacao”
Grupo Los Yoyi: “Tu No Me Puedes Conquistar”
Ricardo Eddy Martinez: “Te Quedas”
Sintesis: “Con La Luz Del La Manana”
Grupo Los Yoyi: “El Fino”

Rock Bogotano: La Banda Nueva

August 31st, 2012 Posted in Colombia, Fusion, Latin Rock | 1 Comment »

Sifting through shelves of moldy records on a recent digging excursion in coastal Colombia, I came across a unique rock album amidst a sea of salsa LPs. The colorful cover of La Banda Nueva‘s lone LP, La Gran Feria, immediately caught my attention, and was a welcomed bonus to all of the Cumbia and Salsa LPs I had purchased up until that point. I immediately threw it on my portable turntable and was blown away with the sounds that met my ears.

Simply put, rock is not the genre of music that Colombia is best known for. Only a handful of rock bands existed there in the 1960s and 70s, the vast majority of which could be found in the three cities of Bogotá, Medellin and Cali. What originally started as La Nueva Ola movement during the 1960s which looked to American and British popular rock groups for inspiration, soon blossomed into a creative space where rock bands drew inspiration from many sources, both external and internal, by the early 1970s. Perhaps one of the best outfits from this period was La Banda Nueva, comprised of one member from a major early Nueva Ola group called Los Flippers alongside 3 session musicians from Bogotá, who released their La Gran Feria LP on Discos Bambuco with the full support of label owner Eduardo Calle.

Their music could lazily be described as “Progressive Rock”, or Prog, but that umbrella term does this music a disservice. La Gran Feria mixes a pretty startling variety of musical influences into its gamut, including jazz, psych, blues, and funk. “Emiliano Pinilla” starts the LP off with a bang, letting keyboardist Orlando Betancur unleash a devastating key pattern over a funky drum beat. The lyrics on this particular track are also great and firmly press political boundaries of the era. “Rumba Uno” is probably the stand out track for me on the LP, though, with an ingenious jazzy backbone with Orlando Betancur again taking center stage with some incredible improvisation. A total gem of a record from Bogotá that has me wanting more!

Banda Nueva: “Emiliano Pinilla” & “Rumba Uno”
From the La Gran Feria LP (Bambuco, Colombia, 1974)

 

Guest Post: High-C from Rehash Media

August 23rd, 2012 Posted in Covers, Guest Post, High-C, Latin Funk, Latin Soul, Tejano, Texas | 4 Comments »

Back again on Música del Alma is the dude High-C, joining us on a whirlwind promotional stint in honor of his freshly redesigned mega-blog, Rehash Excavation. Along with partner in grime Wilson, High-C has been generously sharing quality soul and funk music on his website for well over a decade. Today, he provides us with some killer Tejano Soul courtesy of Tony Hernandez!  -Slim Jenkins

Tony Hernandez and the Latin Liners: “Jo Tex” & “Nothing is the Same”
From the La Voz Encantadora LP  (Capri Records – Dallas, Texas)

Hailing from Seguin, Texas, just 35 miles east of San Antonio, emerges one of Chicano music’s less heralded bandleaders, Tony Hernandez. Like other comparable Mexican American bands of the day, Tony and his Latin Liners boasted an eclectic repertoire, delving into multiple genres, playing everything from traditional Mexican rancheras and boleros to up-tempo, chugging funk instrumentals. Following suit behind the A-listers on the scene such as Sunny & the Sunliners and Little Joe and the Latinaires, Tony spared no expense on the horn section’s payroll. This barrage of fortified brass is what defined the Texas Sound in the 1960s-70s and is what makes the featured tune so undeniably heavy. An homage to a fellow Texan soul brother, “Jo Tex [sic]” is one of two funky offerings on an LP composed almost entirely of rancheras. The second point of interest (to funk fans, anyway) on “La Voz…” is the band’s take on the 1970 Grand Funk tune “Nothing is the Same.” The familiar drum, bass and guitar intro that inspired sampling hip hoppers over twenty years ago sounds even sweeter given the Latin treatment. – High-C

EDIT:

Thanks to Detective Jenkins for mining deep into the Youtube-o-sphere to uncover that “Jo Tex” is not an original TH & tLL composition, but in fact, a cover of a cover:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTnG2duZ_rk

and

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3XCRtEsBx4

Check out High-C’s previous Guest Post for Música del Alma. Un abrazo, compadre!

 

Guest Post on Supersonido

February 6th, 2012 Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

I bribed Sonido Franko into letting me post on his Supersonido blog with some fine Irish Whiskey for the epic February 45s 2012 edition. I ended up posting this great Ron and the Embracers 45 from East LA.   And, being the top shelf gentleman that he is, Franko even threw in an extra funky Southern 45. Thanks, man!

Click here to see the post.

LUCHO BERMUDEZ AT 100

January 25th, 2012 Posted in Colombia, Cumbia | 2 Comments »

 

Today would be the 100th birthday of Lucho Bermudez, a personality who speaks to us in 2012 through his classic Colombian costeño songs and continuing reverberating impact on the sonic landscape of Latin America.

Born on January 25th, 1912, in an inland town close to the beautiful beach city of Tolu, Colombia, this sartorial gentleman who is immediately recognizable from his patented slicked-back hair and thick-rimmed glasses got his big break by directing the influential Orquesta del Caribe of Cartagena. As early as the late 1930s, the band was pumping out Porros and Mapales that lit up ballrooms across the Colombian Caribbean coast in stark contrast to the popular waltzes of the day. His orchestra was largely responsible for bringing music that at the time was associated with the black lower classes into elite clubs & radio stations, first on the coast, and then into the capital of Bogota and other mostly white cities of central Colombia.

Feliz cumpleaños centenario, Lucho!

My personal favorite Bermudez track would have to be “Plinio Guzman”, a heavy Gaita that features a wicked back and forth between Lucho’s stylish clarinet and the wall of brass of his orchestra. A true Colombian masterpiece!

Lucho Bermudez: “Plinio Guzman” (Zeida, 195?)

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Lucho Bermudez: “Gaiteando” & “Mi Pueblo” (Silver, 196?)

Another incredible album by Bermudez is his Gaiteando LP, released on the famed Silver label in the 60s.  It features the classic “Arroz Con Coco” (which I won’t include here since it has been comped), along with a host of other solid music such as “Gaiteando” and the slept-on “Mi Pueblo”, a track that showcases a ridiculous trumpet player as it slowly builds up into sureshot dancefloor heat.  A classic!  Now, who has a mint copy for me?

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For more tracks by Lucho Bermudez, I strongly recommend tracking down his original Colombian LPs through eBay.  Alternatively, the Soundway Records collection that came out last year (licensed properly through the correct channels and everything) is a great way to familiarize yourself with his classics!

Guest Mix for Soul Bonanza (Japan)

December 27th, 2011 Posted in Colombia, Cuba, Cumbia, Descarga, Guest Post, Mixes, Pachanga/Charanga, Peru, Salsa, West Coast | No Comments »

Just wanted to plug my latest Latin mix, which the cool folks at Soul Bonanza are hosting for me.   The mix, entitled “Me Gusta Como Bailas”, is a combination of my favorite styles of Latin music all in one: Pachanga, Cumbia, Descarga, Funk, Salsa, etc from places like California, Ethiopia, Colombia and Cuba!  Make sure to check back to their site for the best in Tropical sounds from Latin America, the Caribbean & Africa.

Click here to listen to the mix!