Archive for the ‘Latin Funk’ Category

Interview: Eric Banta (Names You Can Trust)

Monday, April 15th, 2013

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.



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.



GUEST MIX: DJ Sport Casual

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

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

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

GUEST MIX: Funk Nocturno by Morris

Friday, September 14th, 2012

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”

Guest Post: High-C from Rehash Media

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

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


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:


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



Monday, December 19th, 2011

Alex LaRotta is a good friend and emerging ethnomusicologist based in San Antonio, Texas.  This week he has written an outstanding overview about the incorporation of Cumbia into the Tex-Mex gamut.  Thanks, man!


What’s often misunderstood about La Onda Chicana – the Tex-Mex musical/socio-political movement of the early 1970s – is that the ‘new sound’ emanating from Texas didn’t just incorporate American r&b and rock music, as it is popularly understood.  Tex-Mex orquestas associated with La Onda Chicana also incorporated música tropical of Caribbean and South American influence, though to a discernible lesser degree than Latin groups in New York and Chicago. The Colombian cumbia became wildly popular in Mexico by the early 1960s in part by Eduardo Baptista and his Mexico City-based musical powerhouse, Discos Peerless – one of the oldest and most influential Latin American record labels of the 20th century. As late as the mid ’60s, Peerless and its various subsidiary labels were licensing, pressing, and distributing Colombian cumbias across Central American and into the American Southwest, feeding the infectious cumbia frenzy on both sides of the border. Meanwhile, tropical groups started popping up across Mexico, emulating the great cumbia and tropical bandleaders of Colombia – Pacho Galan and Lucho Bermúdez were particularly popular figures of Mexico’s tropical scene. Though the craze wasn’t as profitable as the mambo or cha-cha-cha of several years prior, cumbia has enjoyed an arguably longer shelf life than many other of the ‘trendy’ Latin musical styles. Later re-imagined by Selena and her early ’90s pop crossover sensation, cumbia remains a genre favorite for Tejano bands even today. Needless to say, the synth-heavy and all-too-’80s sound of the modern cumbia tejana is a far stretch from its Colombian Afro-Caribbean roots, but these early Texas cumbias were remarkably pretty close to the big band sounds of Colombia’s golden age. Most Texas cumbias were covers of Colombian and Mexican hits, so while there weren’t tropical arrangers in Texas per se, Tex-mex bands of La Onda era were definitely bit by the cumbia bug.

Subtle changes to band arrangements and instrumentation can be found in La Onda records of the late ’60s/early ’70s, which had evolved from the basic bass-and-accordion conjunto instrumentation known throughout most of South Texas to big brass bands and full-bodied orquestas. Considering that both the Colombian cumbia and Tex-Mex conjunto are characteristically accordion-driven musical styles, the genre melding during La Onda heyday sounds quite natural, though notably distinct than the original Colombian compositions.

All history/ramblings aside, big up to Adam and Música del Alma for inviting me to share a few of my favorite cumbia tejana sides. Gracias compadre! Enjoy!

Sunny and The Sunliners – “La Pollera Colorada” & “Cissy Strut” from The Missing Link LP (Key-Loc, 1970)

Though Sunny and The Sunliners’ The Missing Link LP is well-known in latin funk circles (and it does get super fonky – check their rendition of The Meters’ “Cissy Strut” below for the non-believers), this record contains one of my all-time favorite cumbia covers. Sunny takes a swing at the immortal cumbia classic – “La Pollera Color·” – written by Colombian costeÒo Wilson Choperena of Pedro Salcedo y su Orquesta fame. Though no one could ever really top Choperena’s original, Sunny’s version easily qualifies for honorable mention. Wilson Chopenera recently passed on (a week ago as of this writing), but his legacy lives on with this timeless Colombian anthem and countless other compositions. R.I.P. maestro.

Little Joe and The Latinaires – “Cumbia de la Media Noche” from the Arriba! LP – (Buena Suerte, 1968)

From José “Little Joe” Hernandez’s Arriba! LP – the debut full-length of his Buena Suerte imprint (of legendary Brothers Seven fame for the funk heads) – “Cumbia de la Media Noche” is a personal favorite. The huge (huuuge!) horns and luscious, bright keys alone gives it my Colombian stamp of approval – trust me, used only sparingly. “Cumbia de la Media Noche” was a popular cover tune of early Mexican tropical groups, recorded and popularized by Mexico’s Carmen Rivero y Su Conjunto in 1964. To my knowledge, Little Joe was the first Tejano to take a crack at it.

Lalo Garciano y Su Orquesta – “Poquita Fe b/w Alegria” (El Zarape, 196?)

A relative unknown of the Tex-Mex music world (aka ungoogleable), Lalo Garciano y Su Orquesta’s “Alegria” (a typo from the real title of the song, “Alergia”, and coincidentally my Mom’s name – HI MOM!), “Alegria” is a big horn cumbia produced by Mr. Onda Chicana himself – Johnny Gonzales of the Dallas-based El Zarape Records.* Originally recorded in 1968 by popular Mexican tropical group Sonora Santanera for CBS Mexico, Garciano and his group faithfully execute a near note-to-note cover of Chico Navarro’s original. Gotta love that big bellowing “CUMBIA!” that kicks off at the top!

Harold y su Banda – Heavy Colombian Funk

Monday, July 18th, 2011

I have finally gotten around to processing all of my finds from my Colombia / Venezuela trip, so while I put the finishing touches on a couple of mixes I’m working on, check out this LP by Harold y su Banda.  In terms of funky stuff, the below LP quickly bubbled to the top and stood out from the all rest.  What ended up being a nice find on my last day in Colombia from a street vendor in Bogota, the Evolucion LP really has a lot to offer those of us who love Latin Funk music.  Harold Orozco, originally from Cali, Colombia, was apparently an integral force behind Colombia’s La Nueva Ola (New Wave) rock / beat scene during the 1960’s which looked to American and British popular rock groups for inspiration.

Eventually, instead of simply covering North American songs, Colombian musicians branched out and explored amazing new avenues of sound in the late 60’s and early 70’s. This brings us to Harold’s 1975 album, Evolucion, with its incredible production of funky rhythms and lush soundscapes.  A true studio creation, recorded in Bogota between 1973 and 1975 at the legendary Ingeson Studios, you really get the sense that Harold’s musical vision has reached maturity.  My first impression of this LP when I heard it was that it was recorded by a Colombian musician who had relocated to the US (also, the LP’s cover photo looks like it was shot in the American Southwest, cover photo shot in Colombia’s Tatacoa Desert).  But after more detailed listening I think that this album is a unique Colombian creation.

“Latino” is a killer uptempo b-boy funk track that leads off with a stylish guitar and rumbling bass-line.  The brass section and vocals really make this track shine, though! And how about those breaks?  “Busque El Gato” sounds like it could be at home on a Wganda Kenya album with its Afro Funk guitar, and was recorded in 1973 (two years before all the others).  Again, this is b-boy catnip! I wonder what other stuff he recorded in the early 70s?

The last two tracks I’m including here, “Ansias de Vivir” and “Alguien”, definitely have obvious mid-70’s American funk influences.  I can hear Mizell Brothers vibes all over the place in “Ansias…” (RIP Fonce), and even some Barry White in “Alguien”!

Harold y su Banda: “Latino”“Busque El Gato”, “Ansias de Vivir” , “Alguien”
From the Evolucion LP (CBS, Colombia, 1975)

Los Aristocratas de Chicago Go Funk

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

While you may not think that Chicago, Illinois, was a hotbed of Latin activity in the 70s, think again. Not only were there plenty of hot salsa groups being recorded by EBIRAC Records, a Mexican-American group called Los Aristocratas de Chicago also found modest local popularity playing Latin music typical of Northern Mexico and the American Southwest. To be sure, though, they recorded for the Los Angeles-based Musimex label that marketed and distributed their releases mostly in the Southern border region of US where their core market resided.

Hidden in two bargain bin albums (both recorded in 1974) are single tracks that show another side to Los Aristocratas’ usual Cumbia / Ranchera / Balada musical leanings: funk music.  The first great example of this comes in their Vol. 1 LP with a real nice cover of Ray Barretto‘s classic summertime jam, “Cocinando”, which I have already featured on this site.  It’s a pretty straight-forward cover but for the hot electric guitar that comes in the end.  Suave!

While I’m at it, I wanted to throw up another track by Los Aristocratas that appears on their Vol. 2 LP from the same year (and most likely the same recording session).  “Poppin” comes across in true border-town Latin Funk fashion, and really it’s a funky ranchera a la Los Vampiros.  Me gusta!

Los Aristocratas de Chicago: “Cocinando” & “Poppin”
From the Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 LPs (Musimex, 1974)


Friday, March 25th, 2011

Y’all know the deal by now.  Here is my #1 pick!

1.)  Phirpo y sus Caribes: “Comencemos” (Philips, Colombia, 197?)

“Comencemos” is my top pick without question.  Phirpo y sus Caribes were a mysterious band formed in either Colombia or Venezuela during the early to mid-seventies, and were fronted by master Venezolano trombonist Porfi Jimenez (for those who have any doubts about this, just flip the first and last syllables in Porfi’s name around the “r” and you get “Phirpo”).  His trombone takes center stage in this cover of Fela Kuti’s classic “Let’s Start”, along with some fire-breathing trumpeters, a skilled guitarist and two energetic drummers.

Primarily known for his legendary salsa recordings, Parilla Caliente (hot grill/barbeque) was Porfi’s wild funk record that he presented to humanity.  While I dig pretty much the entire LP, “Comencemos” stands out as one of the most incendiary instrumental funk tracks of all time (Latin or otherwise).  It’s like a bright orange habanero pepper surrounded by green bells that look on in envy of its potency!

Special thanks to Oliver Wang and Roberto Ernesto Gyemant for help figuring out that Phirpo = Porfi Jimenez!


I hope you enjoyed my top 5 Latin funk tracks!  I also wanted to include a few honorable mentions that didn’t quite make the cut:

La Kabala: “Cumbanchero” & “Miami Beach”
Ray Barretto: “Together”
Los Sobrinos del Juez (Judge’s Nephews): “Harina de Maiz”

Soul Fantastics: “El Mismo (Sere)”
Nico Gomez: “Ritual” & “Lupita” & “Baila Chibiquiban”
Raoul Zequeira: “Maraca y Bongo”


Thursday, March 24th, 2011

A few weeks back, a faithful reader of this blog asked me a seemingly simple question:“What are your top 5 Latin Funk tracks of all time?” I put some serious thought into this question, revisited many worthy records in my collection, and came up with my top five as of this moment.  I tried my best to remove the rarity of certain records from my decisions and focus exclusively on the musical qualities of the songs in question, but as you can imagine sometimes the rarest shit is the best.  I will be posting each of my top fives picks individually in the coming weeks, so make sure to stay tuned! Continuing on, here is my #2 pick:

2.) Grupo Irakere: “Bacalao Con Pan” (Areito, Cuba, 1974)

Grupo Irakere recorded their first LP in 1974 after being formed the previous year by Cuban piano legend Chucho Valdés and others.  Their monster track “Bacalao Con Pan” (a popular Cuban meal consisting of fish with bread), has everything I could ever want from a Latin Funk song: wah wah guitar drenched in tropical humidity, ferocious horns, a pounding Latin rhythm section strong enough to kill an elephant, and able keys I would bet my life savings on.

The part of this song that really sells it for me is the breakdown where the thunderous rhythm drops out and the piano comes in loud.  As soon as those drums come back in it’s pretty much game over.  So hype!

Pretty well-known track, but an unmovable classic.


Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

A few weeks back, a faithful reader of this blog asked me a seemingly simple question:“What are your top 5 Latin Funk tracks of all time?” I put some serious thought into this question, revisited many worthy records in my collection, and came up with my top five as of this moment.  I tried my best to remove the rarity of certain records from my decisions and focus exclusively on the musical qualities of the songs in question, but as you can imagine sometimes the rarest shit is the best.  I will be posting each of my top fives picks individually in the coming weeks, so make sure to stay tuned! Continuing on, here is my #3 pick:

3.)  Ghetto Brothers: “Got This Happy Feeling” (Salsa, NYC, 197?)

This legendary LP by the Ghetto Brothers from the Bronx, NYC, contains so much heat that it was actually difficult to pick a track to highlight here.  “Got This Happy Feeling” ended up edging out all the rest due to its undeniable emotional power.  A feeling of happiness for lead singer Benny Melendez’ soon-to-be-born son outshone all the rubble and street violence of the Bronx at the time, and thus this song was conceived.  I’ll let the music do the talking on this one!

“This is Ghetto Brothers Power baby, from the Bronx.”

Note: the above mp3 is a 128 kbps rip, in order to discourage bootlegging and sucker-ass Serato DJ’s from rocking it (I see you).