Wednesday, November 30, 2005

El Chicano

Originally known as the VIP's, East LA's El Chicano were at the forefront of the 70's "Conga Funk" movement, which included bands such as War, Malo, and eventually Tierra. Their sound, like early Santana, is a mixture of rock, funk, soul, jazz, and Afro-Cuban salsa.

Their biggest hit was the title track to their 1970 debut, Gerald Wilson's "Viva Tirado". A regional hit in LA at first, the instrumental gained steam and found ears in the east coast. This led to El Chicano performing at the legendary Apollo Theater, becoming the the first Chicano act to do so.

MP3: "Viva Tirado" by El Chicano
from Viva Tirado(MCA/Kapp, 1970)

MP3: "Spanish Grease" by El Chicano
MP3: "Sabor a Mi"
from Revolucion(MCA/Kapp, 1971)

MP3: "Tell Her She's Lovely" by El Chicano
from Cinco de Mayo(MCA, 1974)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Maceo Parker

Sax funk legend Maceo Parker first gained notoriety when he was part of James Brown's band and landed a solo on "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag." This led to solo's on other classics such as "Cold Sweat" and "Sex Machine." Maceo later left James Brown along with bassist Bootsy Collins and trombonist Fred Wesley to join George Clinton and Parliament where they took funk to a whole other level. In 2004 Maceo was part of Prince's Musicology tour where he received great critical acclaim. Maceo still continues to tour the world with his own band.

MP3: "Born To Wander"
MP3: "Feeling Alright"
by Maceo & All the King's Men from Funky Music Machine(Excello, 1972)

MP3: "Chameleon" by Maceo Parker from Soundtrack(Minor Music)

Monday, November 14, 2005

Kool & The Gang

Originally a traditional jazz band known as the Jazziacs, the group would incorporate their love for James Brown and Sly & The Family Stone into their music and eventually become Kool & The Gang. Although they reached their commercial peak in the 80's with hits such as "Ladies Night" and "Celebration", some of their earlier work is as funky and soulful as it gets. Much of their early funk was heavily sampled in hip-hop during the 90's. My exposure to Kool & The Gang's earlier work was through Too $hort's sampling of "Hollywood Swinging" for his song "Money in the Ghetto". Definitely some Funky Stuff.

MP3: "NT" by Kool & The Gang from Gangthology (Universal Int'l,2003)

MP3: "Dujii" by Kool & The Gang from Kool Jazz (Polygram, 1974)

MP3: "Sombrero Sam" by Kool & The Gang from Live at P.J.'s (Polygram, 1971)

Sunday, November 06, 2005


For nearly 40 years, some of the most underrated Latin Soul and Jazz music has come from none other than Pucho and his Latin Soul Brothers. By listening to just one measure of his music, you'd think that Pucho hails from Cuba or some other Latin American country. It is surprising to find that Pucho is not even a Latino. The legendary timbalero was born Henry Brown in Harlem, New York and grew up entranced by the African American sounds of jazz and soul as well as the Latin music that he was exposed to in his neighborhood.
Although Pucho never garnered the recognition as contemporaries Willie Bobo and Mongo Santamaria, Pucho and his Latin Soul Brothers have had a resurgence due to a new generation of listeners who have rediscovered his music. He still continues to tour to this day.

MP3: "Maiden Voyage" by Pucho & his Latin Soul Brothers
from Legends of Acid Jazz (Prestige, 1996)

MP3: "Chitterlings Con Carne" by Pucho & his Latin Soul Brothers
from Pulp Fusion (Harmless, 2003)

Monday, October 31, 2005


One of the most prolific figures in the hard bop scene, Milt "Bags" Jackson played vibraphones with a virtual who's who of jazz giants including Coltrane, Bird, Woody Herman, and Monk. In fact, Milt was discovered by Dizzy Gillespie in 1946. When Dizzy's horn section needed to rest their chops, Milt was to play in a quartet with band members John Lewis, Percy Heath, and Kenny Clarke. This group eventually became known as the Modern Jazz Quartet.

MP3: "Sunflower" by Milt Jackson from Sunflower (CTI, 1973)

MP3: "Stella By Starlight" by Milt Jackson Sextet from Invitation (OJC, 1962)

Sunday, October 23, 2005


Led by legendary pianist Chucho Valdez, the legendary Irakere is widely considered one of the best bands to ever come out of Cuba. Blending Afro- Cuban rhythms with jazz, funk, rock, and classical music, Irakere has made waves with its music and its defectors, most notably Arturo Sandoval and Paquito D'Rivera, who have gone on to have monster solo careers.

MP3: Bacalao Con Pan by Irakere
from Grandes Momentos de Chucho Valdez y Irakere

MP3: Misa Negra by Irakere
from The Best of Irakere (Columbia)

MP3: Juana Mil Ciento by Irakere
from Latin Jazz: La CombinaciĆ³n Perfecta (Smithsonian Folkways)

Grupo Fantasma and their Latin Funk side project Brownout! are two bands influenced by the sound of Irakere. I have heard nothing but good things about them. Definitely a band to keep your eyes and ears on.

Check out some tracks and drop them a line for me.
Grupo Fantasma

Friday, October 21, 2005

October 21

Being that today is the birthdate of Dizzy Gillespie and myself, I have decided to post my favorite jazz composition of all-time: Night In Tunisia.
Perhaps it is too soon to have another Dizzy post but you really can't go wrong with Dizzy. Taking a page from Taxi Driver, here are some of my favorite renditions of another classic jazz standard.

MP3: Night In Tunisia by Lee Morgan
from Cooker (Blue Note, 1957)

MP3: Night In Tunisia by Arturo Sandoval
from Tumbaito (Messidor, 1991)

MP3: Night In Tunisia by Sonny Rollins
from A Night at the Village Vanguard (Blue Note)

MP3: Night In Tunisia by Kenny Dorham
from Round About Midnight at the Cafe Bohemia(Blue Note)

MP3: Night In Tunisia by Eric Dolphy
from Hot & Cool Latin (Blue Moon)

MP3: Night In Tunisia by Cal Tjader
from Latino (Fantasy)

MP3: Night In Torino(Tunisia) by Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez
from Italuba (Universal Latino, 2004)

MP3: Night In Tunisia by Dizzy Gillespie
from Dizzy's Diamonds (Verve, 1992)