Mongo Santamaría . Sofrito, O Mi Shangó

I really like where you’re headed with this, Pozole. While I cue up the next song, I have to say I can’t agree more with you, man. I have to walk behind the booth every other song to see what y’all are playing! And even in a record that I own, you guys bring to light these amazing songs that I haven’t even noticed. I hadn’t really paid too much attention to Ray Barreto’s ‘Power’, and on an album called ‘Power’! Thank you for rectifying.

That track got me all excited to post an old favorite, but I just realized that I let Smokestack borrow it. Well, it’s in very capable hands, I can’t wait to see what he’ll do with it. So let’s try something else, inspired by your last two posts (and by the opportunity to blast “Sofrito” on La Peña’s sound system last Saturday. Someone asked me what ‘Sofrito’, and the best (only?) answer was to have her look at the record cover.)

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No doubt many of you know Mongo Santamaria’s “Sofrito”, a Pelanga favorite and a classy, classy tune. A just-so-slightly melodramatic piano intro turns into one of the most memorable tumbaos in salsa, adorned by such an elegant horn section and beautiful solos waay up top. Monguito’s subtle work on the congas keeps everyone grounded and lets them shine. Restraint can be so powerful!

This is not the song I meant to post, but I can’t help it.

Sofrito by Mongo Santamaría

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What you might not know is how Monguito follows this up. In the next track he brings us back down low, with a praise to Shangó that is equal parts heavy funk and pure rumba cubana. What else can I say?

O Mi Shango by Mongo Santamaría

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¡¡Quema!!

Franz Tunda, I know you’re busy, but I also know some of what’s hiding in your crates. Wanna take it from here?

Enjoy,
papicultor.

 

Joey Pastrana – Let’s Ball

Here’s some more heat from my recent trip to Colombia.

As I told you a couple of years ago, I spent a few (pre-internet) years trying to figure out who played this incredible song, and several years after that trying to track down a copy of Joey Pastrana’s brilliant debut album. This wasn’t easy – I like to buy my records in person, and don’t like to pay a fortune for them – but I finally found it.

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Man, I love the sound of this group. From the fat rhythm and horn sections, to Joey’s breaks on the timbales, to Ismael Miranda’s voice, to the groovy “Rivera sisters” – who aren’t really sisters, and are definitely not just ‘backup singers’ – I feel like I’m hearing Cortijo’s younger, crazier sibling. (And Cortijo is pretty crazy himself.)

It’s hard to choose a song or two from this album. Every song is gold! Anyway, here’s a soulful boogaloo:

Bien Dulce by Joey Pastrana/Let’s Ball

a savage descarga:

Mani Picante by Joey Pastrana/Let’s Ball

and please go check out Rumbón Melón if you haven’t.

Joey tells the story of how Cotique’s George Goldner sent him straight to the recording studio after hearing his band play just one song. Dude was so excited with what he heard, that he rushed to get the album out as quickly as possible. It seems that he didn’t even have time to check the spelling of ‘Pastrana’ on the cover…

Enjoy,
papicultor

Fruko . Tesura, Ayunando

I like the new year’s resolution, Pozole! I’ve also been feeling like it’s time to turn up the heat around here. Luckily Pozole and Smokestack have been doing just that for a while, but it’s time to do my share. Here are two records I’ve been meaning to track down for a couple of years (without paying a fortune for them), and finally got a hold of.

We keep coming back to Fruko; we’re neither the first ones nor the last ones to pay tribute to him. You probably know El Preso. Classic! But the man is behind so much more of our favorite Colombian music (Michi Sarmiento, Corraleros de Majagual, Wganda Kenya, Afrosound, Joe Arroyo, Latin Brothers…) and was pretty fundamental in shaping the sound of Colombian salsa in the 70s: rooted in the cumbia tradition, and incorporating a Nuyorican style horn section, a punk rock attack, and a good dose of flower-powered experimentation.

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Fruko y sus Tesos started out heavy with “Tesura”, of which supposedly there are only 400 copies. How’s this for an introduction?

Teso! “Dude is wearing a pistol around his neck, a necktie as a belt, a giant gold medallion on his dog, and ready to throw down with salsa breaks so hard that they’re breaking bottles in the middle of the song.” Pozole, here’s your request:

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Three years later, you can see Fruko is feeling pretty happy with himself. He picked up 15-year old Joe Arroyo and kept playing hard:

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but he got soulful too. If you don’t speak Spanish, you might never guess that now he’s heartbroken, telling the lady who left him how much she will suffer.

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Sorry about the back cover, I had to share…

Much more Fruko here, and probably more later on.

 

Ray Barretto – Margie

I’m sure a lot of collectors can sympathize: I have a big pile of *great* records that I still haven’t had the time to listen to, not even once. Yeah, yeah, something about wanting to *really* listen to them… If you understand, you understand.

Anygüey, I tell you this because last night I had this really vivid dream where I *finally* played this incredible record that has been in that pile for more than six months. I figure that’s a sign, no?

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Margie by Ray Barreto

Does it happen to you?

 

Enjoy,
papicultor

Oro de México

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This past August my fiancé and I treated ourselves to 3 weeks of traveling through Mexico. It had been five years since we were there last and my only regret from that last trip was that I didn’t go hunting for records. I wasn’t about to make that same mistake twice. We traveled through 4 states: Mexico (DF), Veracruz, Oaxaca, and Chiapas. My expectation was that I would only find records in the tianguis (outdoor flea markets) of Mexico City which I did thanks to Franz’s friend. Thankfully I relearned the most valuable lesson in record digging—records are everywhere. The key of course is making friends. Below is small sampling of what I returned with.

The photo above was taken in Oaxaca after finding the bazar that I had been told about from a friend I made in another bazar. On our last day I stumbled across it after having no luck earlier. The place was dark, dirty, and filled with mosquitos. However, this bazar was also filled with stacks upon stacks of records. The only problems was we had a bus to catch with only minutes to spare. Digging at top speed I managed to find a fair amount of good stuff including this gem of a 45 from Acapulco Tropical called La Pollera Amarilla.

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By the time we crossed from Oaxaca to Chiapas I really didn’t expect to find more records, but again making friends is the key. This time there was no getting lost. After making friends with the owner of a vintage shop we were guided straight to a record store filled with deadstock vinyl. (Mil gracias Edgar!) Musically Chiapas is most known for marimba. To be honest, a lot of marimba music from Central America just doesn’t do it for me. But how can you pass up Marimba Seguridad Publica De Chiapas, with it’s 8-man horn section covering La Sonora Dinamita’s Macumba? 

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For those who have never been to Chiapas I highly recommend visiting if you get the chance. The natural beauty there is stunning beyond words. Of course we went to the Mayan ruins of Palenque. And it was only fitting to find this great record by Los Royang’s with Noche Palencana to provide the perfect soundtrack.

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Without a doubt my absolute favorite state in Mexico is Veracruz. I’ve managed to collect a wealth of favorite memories over a short period of time there. And of course Veracruz is the home of Son Jarocho which we’re all big fans of here at La Pelanga. Here is one of the great standards from Veracruz, La Bruja by Conjunto Villa Del Mar De Angel Valencia. I can listen to this over and over.

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Mexican salsa: tomatos, onions, garlic, chiles and limes are one of the best conjuntos of ingredientes ever! But in Veracruz you also have another legendary type of salsa—Sonora Veracruz. Here is a spoonful of their sound from the late 70s, El Pescador.

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As any record digger will tell you, unearthing and breathing new life into a record is the rewarding part. But the real treasures are all the memories of the places and people you meet in the process.

-pozole

 

Joe Arroyo – Rebelión, Mary, Tumbatecho

In preparation for our Tribute to Joe Arroyo on Sept. 9, I promised you that we would post a whole bunch of his music in the next couple of weeks. A bit of a slow start, yes, but it’s time to deliver.

Maybe we’ll start with the basics. Not sure if you’ve heard Joe Arroyo before? If you’ve been to  just about any “Latin night” in the US, you have. They probably played his classic Rebelión (“No le pegue a la negra”), about an African slave in Cartagena rebelling against his Spanish master after he beat up his woman. Here’s the video -which has a bit of an awkward time balancing the dancing and the history lesson- and a great interview (in spanish) of Chelito de Castro about his famous piano solo.

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But there’s so many other great songs in that album! El Joe had just come out from a dark period of excesses and illnesses that he barely survived. He came out of it stronger than ever, with the album Me le Fugué a la Candela, “I escaped the fire”. (The next album,”Musa Original”, has almost the same songs – dunno what’s up with that.) Another classic salsa from that album is his love declaration to his wife at the time:

Mary by Joe Arroyo

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El Tumbatecho is his first “Joesón” – his trademark fusion of salsa, Afro-Colombian, French-Caribbean music, and delicious 80’s arrangements. This is one of his many songs about partying so hard – and putting who knows what in his body – that he’s not able to sleep.

Tumbatecho by Joe Arroyo

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¡Ponte bacano que hay baile hoy!

papicultor