Saturday, July 10, 2010

Surprise surprise. I've moved to wordpress.

http://www.abeardofstars.wordpress.com

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Cumbias Para Bailar

Orquesta Del Chamaco Avila con Carlos Oropeza al organo - Cumbias Para Bailar (Discos Corona, 196?)

It's not really right to call this a cumbia record, but rather an American re-interpretation of cumbia. There is no information online about Chamaco Avila nor the Carlos Oropeza featured on this record. Discos Corona was an LA based record label that released quite a few Latin-themed records, many of them Mariachi or Boleros. I found THIS website that lists a pretty complete discography (minus the record here, but I'm sending this link asap) and as you can tell a lot of it is exotica compilation type stuff that seems to have been very popular with record labels in the 50s and 60s. 

As it's an American production there is a heavy cha-cha influence throughout the record, with loads of brass and lots of bright organ. The orchestra can't be very big, it's definitely only a few horns, the organ, a conguero, a drummer and some light work on the timbales. The fact that it's a small group is a huge plus because the groove is right in front and not buried underneath a ton of other instruments - the drumming is tight and loud, the organ is pretty funky and the horns only pop when they need to. 

Overall, this is a great record, with some really fiery grooves that will put a smile on your face and get you dancing. Tracks like "Simon," "Cumbiamberita," and "Los Soldados" are heavy hitters with a lot of swing. If you've heard my EN VIVO DESDE EL OTRO LADO mix you're already aware of the dancefloor bomb that is "Canta Pescador," a heavy hitting cumbia-track that is led by the summer-sweet organ work of Carlos Oropeza. I'm listening to it right now and am having trouble sitting still! "Borrachera" is another great track as it storms in with these salsa-influenced heavy horns, and organ that wont quit - really, a late-night track that will seal the deal every time. However, there are a couple of sleepers on here where the cha-cha just gets a little redundant or the organ comes off a little cheesy, but that's just my taste and you may be more interested the tracks that I dismissed.

I'm proud to say that I present to you, dear reader, a record that is neither found online nor is there any mention of the record or the players. And as I always say, if it's not available through Google it doesn't exist. Well, I guess I just gave birth to a 40+ year old cumbia record! 

Link is in the commmmmmments.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Please Inform the Captain This is a Hijack

Please Inform the Captain This is a Hijack - S/T 12" EP (Empire Records, 2003)

This is one of my all-time favorite records for so many different reasons. I was at Super Sabado Gigante Fest in LA in 2003 and my friend Andy shoved this record in my face and demanded I buy it. Based solely on his insistence I knew it was going to be great and when he informed me of the DIY punk royaltly Mike Kirsch (of Pinhead Gunpowder, John Henry West, Bread and Circuits, Torches to Rome) as well as members of Former Members of Alfonsin, I couldn't wait to get home and listen. Upon first listen, I don't think any other record has ever confused and delighted me like this record did. 

The needle slipped into the groove and a voice whispers through my speakers: "blast off" then ushering in an explosion of sounds that breaks down normal conventions of what a "punk" record ought to sound like. The track is put together like a hip hop instrumental as it loops a funky locked groove squeezed between esoteric samples reminiscent of a blaxploitation soundtrack, but all the while with the artistic conviction of a carefully articulated sound collage. The track ends quickly and a hypnotic riff spirals into your ears, it's hypnotic, but foreboding, a perfect calm-before-the-storm as it leads into a furious Nation of Ulysses inspired attack. The track ends and and another funky groove is looped while a sampled narration describes the role of the cosmopolitan epicenter. The formula repeats over and over throughout the record, 6 punk songs with a sound collage between each track. Some of these collages are tightly crafted units drawing samples from jazz and funk such as Ramsey Lewis, but other samples are as simple as a joke from Malcolm X. 


While this record greatly challenged the normal confines of what defined a "punk" sound, these sample-based creations were not new as Mike Kirsch had previously used a Fela Kuti sample on the Bread and Circuits LP and numerous bands had popularized the use of sampling lines from speeches or movies. However, in the way that so much attention and time is devoted to these sample-based tracks defies cliche and somehow makes the record less of a "punk" record and more of a "political" record. Whether it comes from the polyphonic vocal attack, the driving hypnotic guitars, or the samples that simulate a kind of Black Panther Soul Train, this records exudes agitation in a way that is intelligent, but also in a way that is more accessible than the traditional punk song. 

The slick production on the record is mirrored by the amazing design work that makes up lyric booklet. The LP cover itself is not very interesting, but the booklet is done in a crisp style that mirrors the funk and flavor of the samples with the apocalyptic imagery of the fiery riffs. The lyrics are neo-romantic, dripping with post-modern metaphors as the group finds unique ways to criticize capitalism, war and the American government. 

This is a record that I will always buy whenever I run into it because I know there is someone who still hasn't heard it. Give it a listen, expand your musical concepts. In the zip file I have included full scans of the booklet for your viewing pleasure. If you just want to look at the rest of the images, check out my flickr


In the coming weeks I will post a rip of their second record as well as with an essay discussing sonic protest through the aggressive nature of politically charged hip hop group Public Enemy and Please Inform the Captain This is a Hijack. 

Link in the comments. Scans with the help of Eydie McConnell.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Goodbye Laura V!

Sorry I haven't updated, I have been having some difficulty pulling together a new post, but trust me a lot of good stuff is coming. 

Just wanted to let everyone know I'm going to be djing Laura V's going-away party at Ashley's Bar in Long Beach this Friday night. Come buy Laura a pitcher. No cover, and I'm spinning until they tell me to stop. 

"

Ashley's Bar

1731 E 4th St.

Long Beach, CA
 
$3.25 well drinks
$3.00 domestics
$2.50 pabst pints
cheap pitchers!!!
                        "

Friday, May 14, 2010

People & Love

Johnny Lytle - People & Love (Milestone, 1972) 
Johnny Lytle was straight up a baaaad (as in cool) vibe player, this guy was able to really groove and get a lot of energy from an instrument that usually often sounds stuck in the land of bad 60's feel-good soundtracks. He was a player who often eluded fame, but not because of his lack of talent and this record really showcases his full abilities as both musician and songwriter. The record is from 1972 and electric instruments were beginning to show up in jazz bands - fusion was still in its baby steps, but this is is less a fusion record than a funky jazz record that makes wide use of its acoustic instruments with the added power of the keyboard and electric bass.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Bridge into the New Age

Azar Lawrence - Bridge into the New Age (Prestige, 1974)
As you can tell by the cover, this is not your typical coffee shop jazz record. Azar Lawrence is best known for his work with McCoy Tyner and Miles Davis, but his records as a leader were just as powerful and innovative. Bridge into the New Age is the first of three records the sax player recorded for Prestige and I feel it's his most dynamic and interesting to listen to as a whole. His other records get more recognition because of their inclination towards a jazz-dance feel, but this record shows a young player (he was 21 when this record was recorded) taking in the history of jazz and updating it into a time period focused on Afro-centrism, peace and love. 

Monday, May 10, 2010

En Vivo Desde El Otro Lado

Grooves Grooves No. 2: En Vivo Desde El Otro Lado

Latin America is united in its struggle against oppression, whether it is inflicted by foreign powers or from a minority military regime. In the US we are taught as school children that the slaves sang gospels and spirituals and that is where the Blues come from. For most of the Americas the musical influence brought over from Africa (another location of mass oppression) was more grounded in percussion, the caj√≥n being a popular instrument in Cuba and Peru as when under suspicion the instrument returned to its original function as a crate. Hand claps, makeshift drums and group singing have led countless generations to stomp their feet and dance, for a brief moment forgetting the unmentionable daily struggle. Through the dialogue of music and dance, a deeply spiritual experience, groups unified and broke their chains, built their own schools, and taught their own history. Imagine the atmosphere in the back room of a Haitian slave house the night before the revolution, Toussaint L'Ouverture droppin knowledge, sharing strength and love. 


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Akwid + Clorofila: FREE at the Echo

Just wanted to announce this last minute FREE show going on this Saturday at the Echo. The show is being put on by VotoLatino in order to celebrate the Latina/o community's participation in the census.