Archive for July, 2009

Deep Funk from the Isthmus

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Well, it’s gonna be tough to follow up the last two guest posts from O-Dub and Age, but this should do well to get things back on track from my end:

Just released and out now on Soundway Records is an extremely limited 7″ featuring that hot hot heat from Panama, a country now made notorious for its incredible musical output through two outstanding compilations also out on Soundway Records. The new 7″ is a companion release to the second compilation, entitled Panama! 2: Latin Sounds, Cumbia Tropical and Calypso Funk on the Isthmus 1967-77, that has now claimed the #3 position on the European World Music charts and is still climbing.

The Soul Fantastics, a popular Combo Nacional de Panama, bring us an obscure deep latin funk gem never given its own proper release.  It appeared on the repress to their first, now legendary LP, and no where else, until now.  The soul of this song rests in Felix Wilkins’ flute, but is helped along by the harmonic stylings of Daniel Bulgin and Samuel Archer, the group’s lead vocalists, riding over a solid groove created by the rest of the Fantastics.  Like a shot in the dark, the groove suddenly stops and lets Wilkins let loose with a solo reminiscent of S.O.U.L.’s “Burning Spear”, only to build back up again into its full glory.

Don’t sleep on this release because they’ll be sold out before you know it (they may already be out of stock!). And extra thanks to Beto for contributing the detailed info in this post.

The Soul Fantastics: “El Mismo” (link expired, please don’t ask for re-up)
From the Limited Panama! 2 7″ (Soundway Records, 2009)

soulfantastics

Deepest funk coming from the isthmus of Panama?

Guest Post: O-Dub (Soul-Sides.com)

Monday, July 20th, 2009

Hot off the heels of Age’s incredible mix last week, our third Guest Post comes to us by way of O-Dub, creator of one of the web’s finest audio-blogs, Soul-Sides.

-Slim

————–

First off, I wanted to express my admiration for the great job Musica Del Alma is doing to help spread knowledge on the diversity of Latin goodness that’s out there. There is some heavy, heavy heat in circulation here, sure to lead to light pockets for those inspired enough to hunt down some of these joints.

For my guest post, I wanted to highlight a genre I’ve been slowly exploring – pachangas. I was lead to pachangas via my interest in boogaloo; when the latter ascended to become the dominant Latin dance style in mid-60s New York, it took over a spot previously filled by pachangas at the beginning of the decade. Both, in essence, were post-mambo crazes, all drawing from similar Cuban musical elements, and always geared with the dancer in mind.

The word “pachanga” always seems to fall in close proximity to “charanga” and indeed, the two were inextricably linked. From the best of my understanding, charangas were what the bands were called and from most descriptions, they seemed to be smaller than the typical mambo orchestras and also incorporated more flutes and violins. The pachanga became the dominant dance style associated with the charangas and I suppose the zippiness of the music captured, in some form, the agility of these smaller bands not to mention the sound of flute darting about. These are, of course, not hard rules and like almost all the Latin music I’ve ever encountered, the lines of slippage are great and many.

Case in point, one of my favorite pachangas is this one:

dolores

Joe Cotto Orchestra: “Dolores”
From Dolores (Magda, 1963)

An absolute cooker of a track, especially with that piano montuno that opens the album and the vocal interplay of the band. That said, while they loudly proclaim that this is a “twist con pachanga,” you’ll notice there’s no flute in the song; instead you have the great trombonist Mon Rivera puffing away.

montez rivera

Bobby Montez: “A Bailar Pachanga”
From Pachanga y Cha Cha Cha (World Pacific, 1961)

Hector Rivera and His Orchestra: “Mi Pachanga”
From Charanga and Pachanga! (Epic 1961)

These were two of the first pachanga LPs I ever saw reissued and if I’m going on good faith, I can only assume that bespeaks the general quality of each album; I’ve certainly been quite happy with the excellence of the selections on both.

What stands out about the Montez is his use of vibes (and again, this is one of those flute-less pachangas) but if you finally want to hear what a “classic” pachanga sounds like, you could do worse than Hector Rivera’s “Mi Pachanga.” So far, all three cuts have one important trait in common – that important use of piano to set down an initial rhythm riff that helps put dancers in motion at the drop of the first montuno.

conjunto

El Conjunto “Cachana”: “Descarga Charanga”
From Mr Pachanga N’ Changa/El Conjunto “Cachana” (Teejay, 196?)

I threw this in partially because Joe Quijano was a major player in the pachanga scene but also because I like how he frames his take on charanga music within a classic descarga format (the bassline is a dead giveaway at the beginning). Heck, I have no idea if this would be considered a pachanga but it still sounds great, no?

- O-Dub

Guest Post: Age

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

For our next installment in the Guest Post Series, San Jose-based DJ/Collector Age unleashes a massive mix of eccentric Latin cuts teaming with SABOR.

-Slim

El Fantasmas Espejo pic

El Fantasmas Espejo mix (Part 1 of 2)

A Collection of Various Latin Records from all over.
(Balada,Salsa,Rock,Psych,Chicano Anthems,etc)

**Note: These were all donations from a former radio station dj at K*** FM
(And out of respect and his request, will remain Anonymous)

All records were part of this large collection that I was given (with the exception of “Carlos Ramos & His Orq Fuego” which just seemed appropriate to have as the last track).  This is Part 1 of 2, so please enjoy and stay tuned for the next one!

Peace,
Adrian (age-snufone)

Wild Wind

Monday, July 13th, 2009

Check out one of the two Latin Rock groups on the Sound Triangle Label from Hialeah, Florida (the other being Coke/Opus).  Arguably the finest LP from that label (unless, of course, you are a fan of Salsa), the self-titled Wild Wind LP is chock full of funky moments.  And hey, even the ballads are good!

Maybe its just the raw recording of the record, or the low quality vinyl the album was pressed on, but “A Drink or Two” has some seriously heavy vibes that boil up through the guitar solo into a gloriously massive drum break. B-Boys take note!

I’m also including two other funky tracks from the album in “I’ve Tried to Love You” & “Make Your Move”.

Wild Wind: “A Drink Or Two”, “I’ve Tried to Love You”, & “Make Your Move”
From the S/T LP (Sound Triangle 7780, 1974)

wildwind

Stay tuned for more great Latin music on the Sound Triangle label!

Colombian Afro Funk: Then and Now

Saturday, July 4th, 2009

Colombian-based musician/DJ Quantic recently released a fantastic new album (along with his Combo Barbaro) entitled Tradition in Transition, which I heartilly encourage everyone to pick up ASAP.  They also just put out a 7″ that features a non-album cut called “Enyere Cumbara”, which itself is a cover of a Julian y su Combo song out of Cali, Colombia.  The original is a mega rare slice of South American Afro Funk with Salsa-informed horns and an infectious underlying conga/tambourine rhythm track.

Quantic and company create a dancefloor-ready cover version that lives up to the original, but places the beautiful piano of Alfredo Linares (who coincidentally played on the original version, too!) at the forefront of the track.  Please check it out and then cop the limited edition original vinyl here.

Julian y su Combo: “Enyere Kumbara”
From the Noche de Fiesta LP (INS, 1975)

julian_combo

Quantic y su Combo Barbaro: “Enyere Kumbara”
From the UK 7″ (Tru Thoughts, 2009)

quantic