"Head Sounds" is a heck of a great way to describe this album – as it's filled with some of Ray's most mind-expanding cuts! The album kicks off with the tune "Acid", which you probably know from the album of the same name, but which still really does a great job of setting the pace here – and then it rolls into some fantastic longer cuts that really have a very strong jazz component. Ray and the group stretch out tremendously, hitting off-color notes and tones that almost make the record feel like one of Eddie Palmieri's jammers from the same time. 3 tracks on the set are over 8 minutes long, which should give you a good feel of the openness of the work – and titles include "Abidjan", "Espiritu Libre", "Drum Poem", and "Tin Tin Deo". LP, Vinyl record album
Joe Bataan —
Salsoul ... LP Mericana, 1973. New Copy (reissue)...
A landmark album from Joe Bataan – so great, that it made the entire record company change its name! The record has Joe really bursting out after his seminal Latin Soul work of the late 60s – blending Latin rhythms and American soul into a whole new style of music – one that Joe called "Salsoul", because of it's mixture of salsa and soul! The blend is fantastic, a real milestone in the NuYorican scene – and handled perfectly by Joe on every cut! There's some massive Latin funk on here, including the tracks "Latin Strut" and "Aftershower Funk", plus some straighter Latin jazz, like "Sunny Gets Blue Mambo", and a great Latin Soul cut with English vocals called "Johnny". LP, Vinyl record album
A sweet set from that great record moment when Latin styles were coming into play with the hipper sounds of the bachelor pad world! Jack "Bongo" Burger was a west coast percussionist with a very similar style to Jack "Mr Bongo" Costanzo – and in fact, since they're both named Jack, and have a bongo middle name, we always wonder whether or not they're the same person! Whatever the case, this album's a tasty batch of bongo-heavy tracks – with a style that's similar to some of Costanzo's work on Liberty, although perhaps with slightly less of a Latin bent. The group includes Buddy Collette on flute and sax, plus piano, trumpet, electric bass, and some nice odd percussion. Kind of like a combo of some of Collette's jazz work, and the exotic stuff that was also appearing on the Hi Fi label. Tracks include "Jordu", "China Nights Mambo", "Negre Setin", "Chiu Chiu", and "Mambo Burger". LP, Vinyl record album
A great compilation of Peruvian Chicha combo Juaneco Y Su Combo from Barbes Records – and a great look at a really under-discovered scene! The grooves here have a skittishly romping feel in the rhythms, but also feature some great guitar and organ parts too – a great mix of electric and organic, with an appeal that's quite similar to early cumbia work from Columbia, especially some of the more electric-styled tunes. There's also a feel here that's slightly rural – almost western echoes in the guitar at times, but in ways that are quite different from any US sounds of the 60s – and although the music is more than enough on its own, the package also provides some good historical details as well. Titles include "Mujer Hilandera", "Me Robaron Mi Runamula", "El Lanto De Ayaimama", "La Patadita", Caballito Nocturno", "Recordando A Fachin", and "Dale Juaneco". 13 in all. (Global Grooves, Latin)LP, Vinyl record album
Kako & Azuquita —
Live It Up ... LP West Side Latino, 1968. New Copy (reissue)...
One of the best collaborations between Puerto Rican bandleader Kako and swingin' Panamanian vocalist Azuquita – and one of the seminal albums from the amazing late 60s era of West Side Latino Records! The record's got a number of nice tracks written by Louie Ramirez, including a few groovy boogaloos like "Panama's Boogaloo", "Aunque No Tengo Dinero", "Shingaling Shingaling", and "Cool Jerk", which is a Latin cover of the Capitols' hit. The title track "Live it Up" is, on top of being one of the most apt titles for a record we've come across in a while, a real pounder of Latin soul track with vocals by Bobby Marin. The whole thing adds up to one of those driving, heavily percussive Latin gems that we would surely have a hard time living without – and a real joy to see repressed on vinyl! LP, Vinyl record album
One of the grooviest groups of the Latin Soul scene – but they'd have to be, given their name! The Latin Souls are a vocal group with a really soulful feel – a great link between the earlier harmony sounds that were bubbling under in Spanish Harlem, and some of the hipper rhythms that were hitting the scene in the late 60s – particularly the two dance modes pushed strongly in the title of the record! Many of the cuts have a nicely dark undercurrent – a bit like the best work of Ralph Robles – but the harmonies give the record a somewhat more sincere feel too, with echoes of Joe Bataan in the mix. The whole thing's great – with production from Pancho Cristal that's right up there with his other great Latin sides of the 60s. Titles include "Guajira Controversial", "Que Va", "Hey Lulu!", "The Party Is Over", "Place In the Sun", "La Banda", and the slammin' "Latin Souls Descarga"! LP, Vinyl record album
(Original pressing, still in the plastic outer sleeve.)
LaSo ... LP MCA, 1977. Very Good+ ...
Just Sold Out!
By any other name, this should be a Joe Bataan record – since Joe wrote most of the tracks, produced the records, and did the vocal arrangements. The sound is similar to Joe's Afrofilipino record, with a Latin groove that's aimed at the dancefloor, but which also has some nice soulful vocals. Marty Sheller did the musical arrangements, and he gives a nice kick to the material. Titles include "LaSo Square", "Happy Smoke", "Another Star", and a remake of Joe's great "Puerto Rico Me Llama". LP, Vinyl record album
A killer bit of Latin jazz from the 70s – one of the first records issued under the name of percussionist Ray Mantilla, and a really smoking set that features funky flute from Jeremy Steig, bass from Eddie Gomez, and both drums and keyboards from the mighty Joe Chambers! The tunes have a dynamic energy that's totally great – way more than just straight Latin, and proof that even at the start, Ray was always trying to reach some new directions with his music. The set begins with a tight "Percussion Intro", then rolls into a batch of original groovers titled "Inca Love Chant", "Chango Llama", "Caravanessa", and the nice long "Seven for Mantilla". (Jazz, Latin)CD
A crackling little set from Latin percussionist Antonio "Chocolate" Mena – not to be confused with the Latin trumpeter who also went by the name of Chocolate! The album's got some wonderfully jazzy numbers – put together with arrangements from Duke Pearson and Lalo Schifrin, and a group that includes Pearson, Richard Williams, Walter Perkins, Seldon Powell, and Jerome Richardson – all of whom make for a session that's equally jazz-based as much as it is Latin-styled – almost in the manner of some of the best Latinesque work on Prestige from the same period. Tracks are short, but very powerful, and titles include "El Pega Joso", "Green Dolphin Street", "Tin Tin Deo", "Kush", "Con Alma", and "Mambo Jazz Opus 7". LP, Vinyl record album