It’s hot in the New York summer. In the humble apartments of East Harlem families from Puerto Rico, República Dominicana or Cuba live in crowded conditions , the smell of “Creole” food gets mixed with the noise of children playing and the Caribbean immigrants , on the turn table (if you can aord one) and in the “El Barrio” shops, the music sounds non stop with the latest Latin Rhythms , Is the 50’s in “El Barrio”. Pachanga, Mambo, Rumba, Cha-cha-chá and above all the Guajira and Son montuno are the preferred rhythms and on the Friday’s night at “The Palladium” are the most popular ones.
The best Orquestras like Tito Puente, Jack Constanzo o Joe Quijano keep the atmosphere hot as Machito, Cugat or Bauzá did before them. Albeit Afrocuban rhythms had been carving themselves a place in Jazz , was in the 40’s and 50’s when things gather momentum , that Latin thing that would explode later and be known commercially as “Salsa” although there was a gap between those first pioneers and the new generations where “Boogaloo” was king. Boogaloo has deep roots in the Afro rhythms, soul and rhythm’n’blues.It
is fair to say that the bands who played Charanga, Mambo, and Son used to consider “Boogaloo” as an inferior genre…and later on they were asking why was this music called “Salsa” what had always been Afrocuban Music.
In this series we bring in some of the names of the Latin Bands based in New York between the 40’s and 60’s and other recordings done in Cuba by Orquestas of the likes of Arsenio Rodríguez, José Curbelo, Roberto Faz, and the immeasurable Sonora Matancera , Orquesta Kubavana or La Playa Sextet that were a big inuence for the Latinos in New York.
We are talking about musicians of the stature of Jack Constanzo(of Italian origins) Ray Barreto, Eddie Palmieri, Mongo Santamaría, Sabú Martínez or Joe Cuba, The Alegre All-Stars, the very cubans Pío
Leyva, Cachao or Arsenio Rodríguez, the powerful voice of Carlos Embale, the elegant ad libs of Ibrahim Ferrer or Vicentico Valdés and the unmistakable and overwhelming presence of La Lupe. ¡A guarachar!!
COCO MAY MAY
In this album you can feel the powerful Cuban inuence , that later on new bands like “Ocho” -with a sound much closer to Soul and funk -would do of Classic Cuban tunes like “Guaguancó Margarito” or “Coco May May” also played by Tito Puente or Larry Harlow.
The version of “Anabacoa” also stands out , on the voice of a huge Pio Leyva , tune enjoyed by the cubans well before was “rediscovered” by Win Wender y Ry Cooder at the end on the 20th century.
Not only the latin sound of the big city -“Pachanga en changa” by Joe Quijano or “Conmigo” by Eddie Palmieri and “Mambo de Cuco” by Mongo- but also the more traditional sound of “El divorcio” with the
incomparable “tres guitar’ of Arsenio Rodriguez “The marvellous blind man” or the very “manful” mambo at the end of “Guajira y Tambó” by Ray Barreto , together with the double meaning present on
the lyrics of all Cuban Music like on the Sonora Matancera version of “Esto se hincha” or “Las Bobitas” by Roberto Faz , are a “must” to understand the arrival of such genres as ‘Boogaloo and Salsa”. It is also
important to point out that although this musicians were mostly from Portorican origin they never fail to acknowledge Afrocuban music as the seed of would come later.