18 Dec 2017

New York City

'A brilliant introduction to some of the most energising & misunderstood music ever' -Wire

'From gritty funk to free-form experimentation, Soul Jazz's selection of Latin-influenced dance music is sterling.' -The Face

'An excellent document of a key phase in musical history. Every single one of these tracks is superb. An absolute f***ing blinder.' -Echoes

This is the 20th anniversary 2015 expanded edition of one of Soul Jazz Records earliest definitive releases: Nu Yorica: Culture Clash In New York City - Experiments in Latin Music 1970-77, a stunning and ground-breaking collection of music, bringing together Latin, Soul, Jazz, Funk and more from the melting pot of New York City in the 1970s. Out-of-print for more than ten years, this new edition has been fully digitally remastered with new tracks. Nu Yorica! is one of Soul Jazz Records most critically acclaimed albums of all time. The album features seminal Latin artists such as Eddie Palmieri, Joe Bataan, Machito, Ocho, Grupo Folklorico, Cortijo, Ricardo Marrero, Cachao and many more.

Many Faces of 1970s Latin Music in NYC

This is a delightful 2-CD collection of various lively Latin music styles, covering the years 1970 to 1977, and highlighting acts that were recording or playing predominately in New York City.

One of the editorial reviews for this collection describes this music as "misunderstood" and underscores the basis for this collection, which is subtitled "Experiments in Latin Music". One case in point is Rafael Cortijo, whose "Carnaval" is one of the highlights of this album. Hailing from Puerto Rico, he brought Bomba and Plena styles of African-derived Puerto Rican music to the city. However, with "Carnaval" he added a few jazz touches, African chants, and some subtle funk flourishes. Which thoroughly confused the masses. As the liner notes tell us, it was "too Latin" for the Jazz market and "too Jazz" for the Latin market, thus killing any sales potential.

As this compilation shows, Cortijo wasn't the only artist during this period trying to expand their musical horizons and take chances. There is some thrilling stuff here, everything from the acclaimed legends such as Eddie Palmieri and Machito Orchestra to more obscure artists such as Cachao and Ocho. There are also two tracks from one of my personal favorites, Joe Bataan, the self-proclaimed Afro-Filipino.

The CD comes with a very informative 36-page booklet. It includes short biographies about each artist on this collection, plus a history of New York City's Latin music scene. The track listings inside the booklet (there are track listings on the back cover that aren't as detailed) include song times, recording dates, songwriting credits, and a full list of the musicians who played on each track. Disc 1 clocks in at over 60 minutes, while Disc 2 is a bit shorter at nearly 48 minutes. It would have been nice if they had included an extra song or two to beef up the minutes on that second disc, but I can't quibble about the quality of what they did incluce. For those with open musical minds, this vibrant mix of Salsa, Son, Jazz, Funk, and Soul is sure to be a pleasing listening experience. -Donald E. Gilliland
Two decades after its initial release this excellent exploration of Latin music in the Big Apple between 1970 and 1977 is back with new tracks, a stellar remastering job, and plenty more to make it seem as though this strolled up from the subways of NYC and onto its beautiful streets. It’s hard to believe that this music is largely 40 or more years old as it sounds fresher and more exhilarating than a good dose of anything coming out these days—in any genre.

Cortijo Y Su Maquina Del Tiempo’s “Gumbo” is a melting pot of sounds from Africa, Puerto Rico, Brazil and the good ol’ you ess of ay. It has shifts in style and attitude and feel that are as in line with dance music as they are with British progressive rock and yet there’s a relentless lyricism to the playing, a series of twists and turns that are as positively exciting to sit through and hang with. Ricard Marrero & The Group sound either incredibly low budget in places or expertly prescient in others. Either way, the offering “Babalonia” proves remarkable, adventurous and filled with the kind of driving, horn-y and percussive twists you can’t buy anywhere but in Latin grooves. Tempo 70 turns in “El Galleton”, an exquisite three-minute adventure that makes you want to seek out more of the Puerto Rican collectives infectious grooves.

But the stars of the show overall -- and the first disc in particular -- are Charlie and Eddie Palmieri. Maybe two of the best-known names featured in this collection, the Palmieris were brave and bold, capable of raising listeners to unknown heights. Charlie’s tingle-inducing “Las Negritas De Carnaval” predicts David Byrne’s flirtation with Latin music many years later and Eddie’s “Un Dia Bonita” is filled with gorgeous piano runs and melodic adventures that challenge the listener again and again over the track’s nearly 15-minute run.

The expert, and under appreciated, turns of the octet named (what else?) Ocho spins out two tracks, “Mamy Colorao” and “Tornado” (the latter the title of the group’s fifth and final LP, released in 1975); the former tune sounds like a spooky version of War as blared through a transistor radio in some abandoned apartment at 4:30 in the morning, while the latter lives up to its name, swirling about the listener’s ears and engulfing them in a sound picture that is almost unbearable but well worth enduring.

The real winner of the second disc is Joe Bataan’s “Aftershower Funk” with its relentless flute lines and a funky groove that proves impossible to wash away. Behind, or maybe equal to that jam, is Ricardo Marrero & The Group’s “My Friend” or, really, the second epic in this collection, Machito Orchestra’s “Macho”, a small slice of Latin aural theatre.

Curiosity seekers will have plenty to dig for after hearing this collection. Ocho’s quintet of albums in particular seem worth seeking out and the Palmieris both have discographies that stretch back decades and decades (they were already veterans in the extreme by the time the tunes that appear here were recorded) and just dipping your toes in anything related to the name Machito should keep you busy well into the next century.

If the point of compilations such as this one is to entice listeners into a deeper appreciation and wider exploration then the job here is well done. It doesn’t hurt that the recording is rounded out by a gorgeous booklet with extensive liner notes and period pics, nor does it work against the collection that there’s not a duff note in the bunch. And you needn’t worry about being a Latin music expert to enjoy this; the compositions and the players do all the work for you, allowing you to ease into and take it all in in one gigantic gulp. -Jedd Beaudoin

Disc 1
1. Charlie Palmieri - Las Negritas De Carnaval 4:08
2. Cortijo Y Su Maquina Del Tiempo - Gumbo 7:57
3. Cachao - La Trompeta Y La Flauta 9:07
4. Ricardo Marrero & The Group - Babalonia 5:40
5. Stone Alliance - Amigos 5:05
6. Joe Bataan - Latin Strut 4:03
7. Grupo Folklorico Y Experimental Nuevayorquino - Anabacoa 6:21
8. Tempo 70 - El Galleton 3:09
9. Eddie Palmieri - Un Dia Bonita 14:48

Disc 2
1. Eddie Palmieri - Condiciones Que Existen 3:53
2. Cortijo Y Su Maquina Del Tiempo - Carnaval 6:51
3. Ocho - Tornado 4:21
4. Bobby Vince Paunetto - Little Rico : Little Rico's Theme 6:39
5. Joe Bataan - Aftershower Funk 5:08
6. Ocho - Mamey Colorado 3:56
7. Ricardo Marrero & The Group - My Friend 3:14
8. Machito Orchestra - Macho 13:33