Johnny Pacheco – Acuyuye

Johnny Pacheco - Acuyuye

It’s been a while since I last featured something from one of our favourite labels here on Gazfunk – the mighty Fania. This week’s selection is a track from one of the heavyweights of the label, Mr Johnny Pacheco.

Pacheco’s story was to start way back in his early years growing up in the Dominican Republic where his father’s career as a bandleader in the “Santa Cecilia Orchestra” had a profound influence on the young Pacheco. Upon moving to New York City at the age of 11, his interest in music grew further still where he learned to play saxophone, flute, clarinet, accordion & violin. His time at the Juilliard School of Music afforded him the opportunity to study percussion.

With all this experience then, it was little wonder when he joined forces with the legendary Eddie Palmieri’s latin orchestra before organizing his own orchestra – “Pacheco y Su Charanga” in 1960. The group were to last around 3 years, however during this time they became the first latin band to headline at the iconic Apollo Theatre.

Upon the breakup of his orchestra, Pacheco was to come together with Jerry Masucci to form Fania Records. It was to be at Fania where he was to enjoy huge success as the label went on to set the standard in latin music and became the face of the latin sound around the world. He wasn’t finished there though – 1968 saw the formation of the “Fania All-Stars” which featured at one time or another Larry Harlow, Bobby Valentin, Willie Colon, Mongo Santamaria, Ray Barretto, Eddie Palmieri, Tito Puente & Joe Bataan. What a line-up that would’ve been to see live in their heyday!! 

Willie Colon – Mc2 (Theme Realidades)

Mighty Hannibal & Elton John

Before I talk about this week’s selection I’d first like to say a few words about the passing of a true legend and one of our favourite artists here on Gazfunk – The Mighty Hannibal. Hannibal (or James Timothy Shaw) died on Thursday past at the age of 74. Despite losing his sight in later years, he still strived to enjoy his life as much as possible and continued on with his larger than life personality. An inspiring and influential character has gone and we here at Gazfunk would like to pass on our sympathies to Hannibal’s family & friends. R.I.P.

Willie Colon - Mc2 (Theme Realidades)

On to today’s artist and we bring you one of the legendary figures within the latin music scene of the 60s & 70s, Mr Willie Colon. Colon first signed to Fania at the tender age of 15 and by 17 had cut his first LP which sold a highly respectable 300,000 copies. As well as his music career, Colon also developed an interest in politics and civil rights and became a campaigner for civil & human rights at the age of 16. This led to him later becoming a member of the Latino Commission on Aids as well as a post with the U.N.

Colon’s musical style encompasses jazz, rock, salsa and is influenced by music from Cuba, Puerto Rico, Brazil & Africa. He is widely regarded as being the most successful artist in the salsa genre having sold an estimated 30 million records worldwide. He still performs to this day and occasionally performs with the legendary Fania All-Stars. As if this wasn’t enough to take up enough of Colon’s time he has also appeared in a few films!!

Today’s selection is the b-side of a track entitled “Toma” released in 1975. The picture sleeve I bring you is the rarer Spanish release of the track. So what does it sound like? Well despite the fact it was cut in ’75, it doesn’t have the disco/Salsoul sound you might expect. What you get is an uptempo instrumental dance floor destroyer featuring congas, spanish style guitar, sound effects, phasing and a funky Blaxploitation feel running through it. It really is the bomb! Enjoy!

Latin Blues Band Feat Luis Aviles – Take A Trip

It’s been a little while since I’ve passed the reins over to one of my friends to dig into their collection and share a little gem with you so it’s my pleasure to introduce you to our next guest contributor – Mr Gary Love.

Gary Love

For those of you who don’t know him, Gary has been a long time “face” on the Scottish mod scene and in recent years has developed a thirst for all things latin (quite like myself in fact!) This passion has led him to create one of the finest club nights in Scotland – Somethin’s Kookin’  The music policy features (as you would expect) latin interspersed with some northern soul, dancefloor jazz and rocking r&b. The great & the good of Scotland’s mod scene have all enjoyed guest slots at one time or another and this has afforded Gary the opportunity to guest at various other clubs across the country.

Gary’s selection for us this week is a lovely piece of latin soul from the Latin Blues Band who may be best known for their track “I’ll Be A Happy Man” which is basically a vocal version of Dave “Baby” Cortez’s “Happy Soul With A Hook” that gained some popularity a few years ago when it was sampled on Christina Aguileria’s smash hit “Ain’t No Other Man”. Gary, it’s over to you…

Take a trip on me…Speed Records. Avilés and his musicians were backed by some of the finest session players in the New York scene – most notably, Bernard Purdie on drums. His funky touch is especially noticeable on “Take A Trip”.” Bobby Marín points out that the unison horns that dominate the track were typical of Louie Ramírez’s genius.

Latin Blues Band - Take A Trip

Ray Barretto – Soul Drummers

Ray Barretto - Soul Drummers

Before I start with this week’s song selection I’d like to first say a few words about the sad loss recently of two titans of the music world – Dave Brubeck & Ravi Shankar.

Dave Brubeck was probably one of the first jazz artists I heard in my youth – with Take Five being my first introduction to his music (much like many other people I would imagine). This led me on to discover various other jazz greats and for this alone, I’ll be eternally grateful.

Ravi Shankar first came to my attention (again like many other people I suspect) via his work with The Beatles and in particular George Harrison. The sound of the sitar sounded so exotic to me and encouraged me to delve deeper into this sound upon which I discovered Dave Pike & Ravi Shankar’s nephew, the late great Ananda Shankar amongst others. The loss of two great innovators & originators will be sad for all genuine music fans – may they rest in peace.

On to this week’s update now and to a man who is our personal favourite latin artist here at Gazfunk HQ. The first track of his that I ever came across was this week’s selection – The Soul Drummers way back in the late 90s (before I’d reached my 18th birthday!). Shortly after that I began to seek out more of his back catalogue and I found that he had many other great tracks including Teacher Of Love, Together, Right On, Love Beads et al.

Ray was probably the artist who opened my ears to the joys of latin music and helped me discover other legends like Joe Bataan (who we have already featured here on the blog), Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria and Harvey Averne so it’s not before time that we feature him in his own right.