The beat goes on

Harvito and His Latin Rhythms, in a photo made in the winter of 1956-57 and provided to The Times by Harvey Averne.
Sometime in the late 1940s, two young Latin musicians in New York, Joe Loco and Tito Puente, sat down to compose songs for a new album by the bandleader Pupi Campo. Mostly, they wrote in a language and style intended for the city’s postwar wave of Cuban and Puerto Rican newcomers, the obvious audience.

The title for one tune, though, combined a Caribbean dance with a Yiddish suffix, albeit slightly misspelled: “Mambonick.” As both Mr. Puente and Mr. Loco knew, the young Jewish dancers who thronged to Latin music clubs had coined the phrase and wore its hybrid handle with pride.

“Why did we follow the mambo?” said Larry Harlow, a child of Jewish Brooklyn who began hearing and playing Latin music in his teens, more than 60 years ago. “Because the girls followed the mambo. And we followed the girls. And if you didn’t know how to dance, they wouldn’t look at you.”

From such a utilitarian motive grew a phenomenon of cultural cross-pollination between Jews and Hispanics in the world of Latin music. What began in part with a kind of transaction — Jewish fans seeing the Hispanic musicians as alluringly exotic, and those musicians in turn marketing their product to Jews — evolved into a deeper and more enduring artistic partnership.


Here’s some beats to sample:

“Mambonick” – Pupi Campo y su Orquestra

“Philadephia Mambo” – Larry Harlow

The Harvey Averne Story

“Caravan” – Arturo O’Farrill and The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra

“Havana Nagila” – Hip Hop Hoodios


Loads of great stuff at Soul Sides:



…It’s been a while since there’s been new boogaloo anthology/comp to hit the market and the folks at Secret Stash didn’t half-step in assembling their new Long Live Boogaloo. They got legendary Latin promoter/designer Izzy Sanabria to draw the cover and write the liner notes, adding a personal touch from a boogaloo insider. Moreover, while previous anthologies tended to serve as primers, this one digs deeper into the Latin soul catalog to offer up prime selections that still drift off the beaten path. For example, Pete Rodriguez, one of the key architects of the boogaloo sound, is represented here but it’s via his slept-on, early effort, “Pete’s Boogaloo” rather than the more obvious “I Like It Like That” or “Oh That’s Nice.”1 Likewise, Ray Barretto gets one song here, but instead of anything off of Acid, they go with “Right On” (strangely mis-titled here as “Pretty Mama”), arguably his funkiest Latin soul cut ever, from 1972′s Power….


linares pito.jpg

…In the last couple of months, I’ve finally been able to knock down two key Latin white whales. As proper white whales should be, both have proved extremely elusive for a few years and to make matters worse, I’m constantly teased by other, similar titles by each artist which happen to show up far more often than the albums I actually want. For examples, Linares’s other major boogaloo LP turns up for sale at least once every 4-6 weeks but El Pito may only pop up on the record radar a few times a year. I finally gave in and “settled” for the U.S. issue vs. the original MAG release (yeah, I know, hair-splitting). But glad to finally have this in the bag – I’m such a fan of Linares’s explosive piano style and to hear him going in on his cover of “El Pito” is awesome, as is the aptly-named Latin jazz tune, “Cool.” Too bad “Descarga” couldn’t get a better name but hey, still a great, lively example of the style. …

And at Village Dance Radio:

Kenny Barron – Peruvian Blue

…With Kenny Barron performing this Saturday night with Mulgrew Miller (as a duo) in San Francisco (Click here to Buy Tickets), I thought I would highlight one of my all-time favorite tracks by the accomplished pianist and composer in “Peruvian Blue”. This latin-flavored jazz gem was the title track to Barron’s 1974 album, which was released by Muse Records. The recording also features David Williams (bass), Ted Dunbar (guitar), Albert Heath (drums) as well as percussionists Richard Landrum and Sonny Morgan while Barron holds it down on both acoustic and electric piano. A great track that nicely blends post bop jazz with funky Latin rhythms. Enjoy!…

Mo goood music

From Waxpoetics:

Bio Ritmo: “Dina’s Mambo” (Remix by E’s E of NYCTrust)

Bio Ritmo

From Office naps:

The frayed edges

Babs Gonzales, Lonely One (Prestige 45-204B)[…]  Babs Gonzales, Lonely One (Prestige 45-204B) 
A true original, Babs Gonzales led a fascinating, colorful life, working, in addition to myriad odd jobs, as singer, lyricist and composer, bandleader, poet, manager and active proponent of jazz and jazz culture.  However, if it’s hard to pin down exactly what Babs Gonzales was, it’s because he was first and foremost a personality – a scenester, a tireless self-mythologizer and authentically colorful character.[…]

Latin tinged surf rock

The Torquays, Escondido (Gee Gee Cee 8163-A)[…] Mostly it was just that Latin music was so well suited to adaptation by the instrumental rock ‘n’ roll form from the start, most particularly the “exotic” atmosphere and Fender guitars, deep reverb and crashing drums that characterized much early surf music.   And it wasn’t just Ernesto Lecuona’s sweeping Latin works – “Siboney”, “Malagueña” and “The Breeze And I” (“Andalucía”) – either.  From the Pharos’ “Pintor” and the Surfmen’s “El Toro” to the Tornadoes’ “Malagueña” and Dick Dale’s “Spanish Kiss,” anything from a stately Cuban bolero to a Flamenco riff or hopped-up border-town mambo might get the surf guitar treatment.

The rock ‘n’ roll instrumental would never again be quite so colorful.[…]

Carlos Camacho & Rafael Fuentes - Brilla El SolThe problem with deeply catholic countries is that people don’t write sweet folk songs about god, they write actual masses. This record is suposed to be played and sung to conduct a typical catholic liturgy. According to the back cover’s text, they wrote it to “look for new paths to express the deepest and richest […]

From 27 Leggies:

Go, Gozalo, Go!

Last year we featured a couple of tracks from the first volume of “Gozalo!”, Vampi Soul’s four volume series of Peruvian boogaloo from the 1960s and 1970s. They aren’t there any more, but if you heard them you have probably been waiting for something from the later volumes. So here are a couple of gems apiece from Volumes Two and Three, including a cracking version of “Louie, Louie“. Get up and shake your llama, Mama!

Mining the Audio motherlode continued

More from the wonderful WFMU:

MichiMichi Sarmiento y Su Combo Bravo  ~  Salsa Con Monte
(Blog: Mi-Melodia)

Michi Gone!
“Along with infectious dance porros and cumbias, Michi y Sus Bravos specialized in rumbling guaguancós, descargas and hot covers of early salsa and boogaloo hits. Michi’s LPs on Discos Fuentes, brilliantly produced and recorded by Mario ‘Pachanga’ Rincón, were packed with fast-paced dancefloor burners featuring pumping bass, insistent montunos, sax solos and nasty metallic percussion.”  (Description from Soundway Records)

[None of the tracks on this LP are included on the spectacular Aqui Los Bravos compilaton from Soundway. If you dig this, be sure to pick up the Soundway disc.]

Also check out Musik-Kurier’s Sleepy Lagoon exotica mix.

Bits, bites, bytes

Land of enchantment:

Meyer & Meyer clothing store in downtown Albuquerque in the 1940s. (Courtesy of the author)

As people across New Mexico commemorate 100 years of statehood in 2012, I’d like to celebrate two people who helped secure a century of Jewish life in my home state: David and Annie Meyer, my great-uncle and great-aunt.

In 1912, when much of the nation still regarded the Southwest as a land of outlaws and Indian raiders, Louis and David Meyer, Yiddish-speaking brothers from Latvia, made their way to New Mexico, the nation’s newest state. With their wives, sisters Yetta and Annie, the pious tailors settled in Albuquerque. The bustling town of 15,000 supported a hospital, university, streetlights, and several moving-picture theaters. And despite the fact that Jews made up less than 1 percent of the population, New Mexico’s largest city had already elected two Jewish mayors.

The Meyer brothers in 1909The Meyer brothers in 1909. From left, David Meyer, brother-in-law Abraham Mann, and Louis Meyer. (Courtesy of the author)

Albuquerque’s Jewish life revolved around the Reform synagogue, established pre-statehood in 1897 by German-born Jews who arrived in the 1880s, when the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway transformed the sleepy agricultural village into a commercial center. Congregation Albert—named by a local merchant in exchange for a winning auction bid of $250—held Friday night services in its spacious Moorish-style building in Albuquerque’s downtown commercial district.

Cuba’s Jews:

A group of some 33 Orange County Jewish businessmen will fly to Cuba on Sunday, March 18 for a week-long humanitarian and religious mission to the country’s Jewish community. The mission is being coordinated by Jewish Federation & Family Services, Orange County. At its peak in 1945, the Jewish community of Cuba numbered nearly 25,000. Most left after Fidel Castro overthrew the Cuban government. The O.C. contingent will carry with them prescription and over-the-counter drugs that are difficult to obtain in Cuba, as well as religious items. The Jewish community in Cuba runs a free pharmacy. Lisa Armony, a spokeswoman for Jewish Federation & Family Services, said the group is carrying about as much as it can, but may need supplies for a future trip. For information, call 949-435-3484.

First step:

World-renowned Mexican sculptor José Sacal dedicated his sculpture “First Step,” to the San Diego Jewish Academy, 11860 Carmel Creek Road, on March 7, courtesy of Jacobo and Hermosa Farca Foundation. The gift was facilitated by the collaborative efforts of WIZO-Tijuana San Diego Organization, KEN Jewish Community and the Latin American Community of San Diego.

Sacal said his sculpture is to honor all the families who uprooted themselves from other countries and made a new life in San Diego. San Diego Jewish Academy has families from all over the world, including Mexico, South Africa, Israel, Russia, Peru, Argentina and China. Sacal said he believes children of all ages should have the opportunity to be exposed to art and dedicated “First Step” in their honor as they move through the various stages of child development.

Sacal’s work has been interpreted as surrealism, “a sandbox for the subconscious mind.” His art is “essence,” according to critics, because it arrives from the depths of his feelings expressed through the beings he creates.

Knitting for food and cultural survival:

Approximately two million Mexican residents have been affected by a drought this winter, one that has destroyed nearly half of the nation’s crops. At the same time, there have been freezing cold temperatures. These harsh realities have resulted in a critical shortage of both food and water. In response, the Mexican government has set aside $2.63 billion US in aid. Although many rural regions are suffering, much attention has been focused on the Sierra Madre region in northern Mexico. Particularly affected in the area has been the indigenous Tarahumara tribe, and many have become worried about the survival of this ancient community.

Among those concerned has been a group of Mexican-Canadian Jews who identify themselves as the Knitting Group. With the desire to help their homeland, they have offered some relief to the Tarahumara people and have demonstrated that a little bit of effort can sometimes go a long way. The small Jewish Knitting Group brings together Mexican immigrants now living in Toronto. By combining food, banter, charity work and their experiences, the group has helped its dozen or so members adjust to life in Canada.

Clara Gordon, a founding member of the Knitting Group hailing from Mexico City, was deeply troubled by the Tarahumaras’ food crisis. After learning about it through a Mexican news source, she became committed to helping the region. “I always knew about indigenous Mexicans and the Tarahumaras. It seemed wrong to not address a problem so familiar to me,” Gordon said. Gordon was aware of the statistics:  Mexican state officials say this has been the worst drought the area has seen in the past 70 years, and has prevented more than 7,000 residents from producing food.

The other constituents of the Knitting Group also wanted to take action, especially given the Tarahumaras’ cultural legacy. Often identified as Mexico’s most unmixed Indian tribe, the Tarahumaras have remained relatively isolated from outside influences. While the majority of Mexicans communicate in Spanish and use the peso, few of the Tarahumaras speak that language, and they rely on an entrenched bartering system.

For the sake of cultural preservation alone, the Knitting Group was determined to help with the resolution of the Tarahumaras’ food crisis, but they struggled with choosing a reliable aid organization… In the case of the Tarahumaras, however, the delivery of aid proved to be more difficult. The remote location of the tribe in a mountainous region has complicated the distribution of charitable goods, even by the government. Gordon also pointed out that the group wanted its donation to be made in association with the Mexican Jewish community. “We are not always sure about where the help will go when we send money, but we know that the Jewish community is well organized in Mexico,” she said. After some discussion with a friend in Mexico, the group decided to send its donation through a Jewish aid organization in the country. Their pooled total of $250 Cdn has provided the Tarahumaras with 40 baskets of food for 10 days.

The Jew and the carrot

From the Forverts’ food blog:

Knishes and Empanadas in Buenos Aires

By Alyssa Bauer

When I arrived to Buenos Aires, I was impressed by a bustling city at the intersection of Latin America, Europe and the United States. One can find beautiful French architecture housing Peruvian-owned fruit and vegetable stands and a dialect that more closely resembles Italian than the Spanish of South America. As a vegetarian in a city that boasts the best beef in the world, I found myself scouring the local cuisine for something I could figuratively and literally sink my teeth into. Empanadas proved to satisfy my desire for street food. The main vegetarian options offered Swiss chard, cheese and onion, Roquefort cheese, and corn withsalsa blanca.

Yet as I explored Buenos Aires’ Jewish neighborhoods, I found comforting culinary similarities with home including hummus, gefilte fish and knishes. Amongst its cultural intersections, the city is home to the largest Jewish community in South America. Similar to New York, Buenos Aires welcomed a large Jewish immigrant population starting in the mid-nineteenth century. An array of traditional recipes accompanied the wave of immigration, which introduced such foods as knishes to the Buenos Aires gastronomical spectrum.

Read more:

Purim in Paradise: A Brazilian Hamantaschen Story

By Ben Rubin

Living in a small Brazilian village an hour’s drive from the northeastern city of Recife, it’s easy to forget the rhythms of the outside world. We had barely finished cleaning up from the revelry of Carnival, when an email arrived to remind me of the onset of Purim and that the costume wearing, drinking in the streets, and sweet treats, were yet to be over. Purim, at the back end of Carnival, seemed a perfect fit for my adopted Brazilian community. And just like that I was making hamantashen, the signature, three-cornered holiday cookie.

Now, it’s true that Recife was the first Jewish community in the New World, where Sephardic Jews found refuge when the area was a Dutch colony between 1630 and 1654. But if Jews ever stepped foot in my little shtetl, Paudalho, 22 miles inland, their presence is lost to the mists of history. Today — more than 350 years after the Recife Jews fled the conquering Portuguese for another Dutch colonial backwater, New Amsterdam — the Jewish population of Paudalho stands at exactly one. I am also the only American and the singular graduate of the Culinary Institute of America.

Read more:

Josh Kun on Mudd Up!

Rupture reports:

This Wednesday at 8pm on WFMU, USC professor  Josh Kun will join me on Mudd Up!, to discuss the current wave of hyperviolent Mexican drug ballads (largely produced in L.A., it turns out) and to examine the question ‘why aren’t other songs being sung?’ Kun is a rare academic who manages to do inspirational work both in & out of the academy — such as TED-talking with Ozomatli, curating the Grammy Museum’s current exhibition Trouble in Paradise: Music and Los Angeles 1945-1975, and doing smart, passionate writing about Tijuana & the complex membrane that is the US-Mexico border. His knowledge of Mexican music goes deep… So tune in! Wednesday night, 8-9pm WFMU 91.1FM, streaming at

If you are unfamiliar with contemporary Mexican corridos in light of the drug war, Kun’s recent essay on what he’s termed ‘necrocorridos,’ is a good place to start. As is this video from Movimiento Alterado, where catchy and lush horn production sparkles alongside bejeweled bulletproof vests as the ‘Sanguinarios del M1′ sing from the assassin’s bloody viewpoint and proudly name the narcos they work for.

Go here to watch some videos to warm you up.

Give the drummer some more

WFMU continues to mine the audio motherlode….

LacontinuidadAda Rave Cuarteto  ~  “La Continudad”
(Free download courtesy of Pan y Rosas Discos)

Rara Avis: Ada Rave
“A quartet of improvisers and jazzniks out of Argentina. The quartet began playing in early 2009 as trio before adding a guitar/electronics to the mix in early 2010. Their inspiration comes from the language of jazz, free improvisation and out rock of the ’60s and ’70s. They blend all of these things as a way of reaching their objective – improvisation! Improv as a means of composition and improv as the composition itself. They create diverse spaces, sensory forms, movements, instances and related sounds all the while projecting their own voice and collective identity.”  (Description from Pan y Rosas)

Colon Johnny Colón  ~  “Boogaloo ’67”
(Blog: Blue Beat in My Soul)

No Sophmore Jinx
“Johnny Colón is the most exciting new star on the Latin scene today. I am proud of playing a small part in his success. I was the first D.J. to play his first hit album Boogaloo Blues. I flipped when I heard it and immediately signed him for the Village Gate. He broke it up, and the rest is history.”  (Symphony Sid Torin, from the liner notes)

Fuerza Ghetto Brothers  ~  “Power-Fuerza”
(Blog: Resin Hits)

Brothers Gonna Work It Out
“This album contains a message; a message to the world, from the Ghetto Brothers. The Ghetto Brothers, a community organization dedicated to bridging the ever-increasing gap that exists between society and minority groups, believe music to be the common language of the world. Through music, they are able to inform society of the plight of the ‘little people’ in their quest for recognition. Therefore, the music of the Ghetto Brothers serves as a way of communication.  If the Ghetto Brothers’ dream comes true, the world will learn that the ‘little people’ wish to be acknowledged; wish to be properly educated in order for them to pass on their knowledge to their children and proudly inform them about their heritage and culture, and be a functioning part of the growth of America. If the Ghetto Brothers’ dream comes true, the ‘little people’ will be ‘little people’ no more, and make their own mark in this world. Listen to the Ghetto Brothers…….and take heed.”  (From the dust jacket of Power-Fuerza [Salsa, 1971])

Galan 2 Pacho Galán  ~  “El Rey del Merecumbé”
(Blog: El Stinkeyes)

Merengue and Cumbia Had a Baby and Named it Merecumbé
“The maestro Pacho Galán had many facets to orchestrate the different forms, using saxophones, trumpets, trombones, clarinets, piano, percussion, violins, flutes, singers, etc. Instruments where reloaded his musical structure within the context of most of his arrangements of popular music were the saxophone and percussion instruments, having these special participation within each piece of music. In this way he managed to create a sound identity and personal style, then continue adding the other instruments that made ​​up his orchestra in their own style. The merecumbé is a faithful representation of these concepts.”  (Google translated, from Biblioteca Luis Ángel Arango)

Kalafe De Kalafe e A Turma~  “Guerra” / “Mundo Quadrado”
(Blog: Trackfinder Brazil)

Such Watch!
“De Kalafe ou Denisse De Kalafe as she is known now in Latin America, was born in Ponta Grossa, Paraná State (Brazil). She started her career on the second half of the 1960s, with the group the Turma. They released a single, now rare, with the Brazilian psychedelic rock  songs “Guerra” and “Mundo Quadrado,” both composed by Arnaldo Saccomani, who later became a respected producer in Brazil. “Guerra” was a local hit in São Paulo. After the second single, which contained the cover “Bang Bang” from Sony and Cher, the band quit. De Kalafe never liked wearing shoes and used to perform bare footed, which didn’t please the audience those times. She was also known by her independent spirit and activism. Her songs were hippie style and anti-militarist right during the Vietnam War. After not being classified for a Song Festival by the end of the 1960’s, she moved to Guadalajara, Mexico, and there she became known as Denisse De Kalafe, and she is now among the superstars in Latin America, while in Brazil she is completely unknown.”  (Commentary by Trackfinder Brazil)