Archive for March, 2011

TOP 5 LATIN FUNK TRACKS: #1 !!!

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!

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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”

TOP 5 LATIN FUNK TRACKS: #2

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.

TOP 5 LATIN FUNK TRACKS: #3

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).

TOP 5 LATIN FUNK TRACKS: #4

Friday, March 18th, 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 #4 pick:

4.)  Black Sugar: “Too Late” (Sono Radio, Peru, 1971)

Black Sugar was formed by some of Peru’s best young musicians of their day.  In 1970, the new musical director of Sono Radio, Jamie Delgado, signed these guys to the label and helped to get their first Self-Titled LP released in 1971.  He also gave them their name!  Fronted by guitarist Victor Salazar and keyboardist Miguel Figueroa, Black Sugar was one of the hottest and most popular bands in Peru at the time.  It is also worth noting that the legendary MAG All Star Coco Lagos himself plays percussion on the entire LP!

“Too Late” is my favorite Peruvian funk song without a doubt, and there’s no way I could leave a song from this country out of my list!  There is something amazing that happens in this track when those horns and a simple piano montuno combine.  Written by keyboardist Miguel Figueroa, “Too Late” is one of the three original compositions that appears on the LP.  I listen to it at least once a week!

TOP 5 LATIN FUNK TRACKS: #5

Thursday, March 3rd, 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! Without further ado, here is my #5 pick to set things off!


5.)  Leo Acosta: “Noches de Viaje” (Capitol, Mexico, 1971)

First off, huge props to DJ High-C (Rehash) from Dallas, TX, for putting me up on this killer LP, otherwise I’d still probably be sleeping on this!  Leo Acosta (aka Mr. Boogaloo) was a drummer and big band leader from Michoacan, Mexico, who played on everything from Jazz to Boogaloo to Funk to Psych records.  He even co-wrote THE very first Spanish language Rock song, “La Mecedora” (that’s Leo on drums). While the majority of his recorded output is in my opinion pretty bland, he released this S/T LP in the early 70s and it’s a killer from front to back!  I wanted to include “Noches de Viaje” (which I like to translate as “Trippy Nights”), because it has such a laid back but solid vibe to it.

Leo holds down a banger of a drumbreak (alongside a steady rhythm guitar player) for a sophisticated horn section to get busy over, eventually making way for one hell of a keyboard player to shine.  I’m very picky with my keyboards in Latin Funk tracks, especially considering that the umbrella genre of Latin music has unleashed some of the finest piano/keyboard players the world has ever known!  This keyboardist does not disappoint.  ¡Qué estilo!