Thursday, 24 February 2011

Los Africanos

In the mid 70s producer and latin music hustler Bobby Marin took a bunch of his mates into the studio and recorded a Nuyorican funk masterpiece. He named the group Los Africanos, and then….nothing happened.

The master languished in the back of a cupboard until Bobby played it to award winning compilation producer Dean Rudland who immediately recognized the recording as a missing gem that simply had to be released. So he brought it into Acid Jazz and finally after three decades Los Africanos have arrived with an LP of big chunky, funk filled grooves.

Bobby Marin is a native New Yorker who grew up in post-war Spanish Harlem, digging both the Latin music beloved of his older brothers and the soul of the streets where he hung out.

By the mid 60s he was a producer and arranger, working for the Speed label working on everything from boogaloo and Latin soul to the Northern classic ‘Spanish Maiden’ by Tony Middleton. Working with legendary vibes player Louie Ramirez he also wrote some amazing music including ‘I’ll Be A Happy Man’ for the Latin Blue Band, whose big horn sound you would instanly recognize as that sampled by DJ Premier for Christina Aguilaira’s world-wide smash ‘Ain’t No Other Man’ in 2006.

In the 70s, whilst working increasingly in the salsa field, he kept his hand in with the world of latin funk with albums by La Crema, and a series of collectable sets by the group Ocho led by Chico Mendoza whose big band version of the JBs’ ‘Hot Pants Road’ was an early acid jazz dancefloor classic . Los Africanos features both Chico Mendoza and Louie Ramirez as part of a stellar cast that includes Fania All Star Barry Rogers, Alegre All Star Mauricio Smith, latin soul super-stars Willie Torres, Jimmy Sabater and Joey Pastrana as well as session legends guitarist Joe Beck and drummer Steve Berrios.

The music ranges from the pure funk of ‘It’s Your Thing’, afro-funk of ‘Pamoja Watu’ based on James Brown’s ‘It’s A New Day’, proto disco on ‘Do It’ and ‘Monster Party’ through to rock covers and pure salsa. It is a melting pot of influences that reflects the streets and clubs of Spanish Harlem.

Go on, treat yourself. 

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