Friday, October 23, 2009

Abstract Index Playlist - October 21/09

This week I got a wonderful anthology of the music of groundbreaking mambologist Tito Rodriguez accompanied by a press release that said the Fania catalog has changed hands once again, this time to a company called Codigo (can't find a link, hmmm...). Fania titles had suffered from poor remasters and inconsistent distribution for years.

Three years ago, Emusica, an affiliate of the then mighty V2, acquired the rights to the catalog (which put the brakes on Spain's Vampisoul from distributing *its* Fania collections in the USA for the most part) and began an ambitious program of proper remasters, well informed compilations and issuing much unreleased material beyond the 4000 official albums in the catalog.

I'm speculating here, but since V2 underwent a restructuring in 2007 and merged with Fontana later that year, perhaps the Fania catalog somehow shook out of that deal. Here is a blogger with some other questions. In any case, this collection is up to the recent standards.

This is prime fifties and sixties dance fever stuff. You'll feel like you were at the Palladium. There is some fine Latin jazz Mark 1 when first rate bebop players were guest starring in orchestras like this one, and those of Machito and Tito Puente. Rodriguez' sound was a huge inspiration to the musicians who would become the Fania All Stars. They recorded an entire album in his honour following his untimely death in the early 70s. The All Stars version of his "Mama Guela" was a big hit (with jazz dancers in England, too) - it's represented here in a live version.

I'd never heard this week's cut "Esta Es Mi Orquestra" - it's a wonderful, imaginative audio treat from 1968. It's "A Young Person's Guide To The Latin Orchestra", in which Rodriguez salutes each member of his band and gives them solo breaks in which to strut their stuff. It's paced like a suite and dominated by Rodriguez' narration. He explains the purpose and personal context of each member of the orchestra - Cachao, of course, is a highlight. Rodriguez assumes on the role of master strategist, psychologist, coach, friend and above all musical director to these many men. For someone whose music preceded most of the 'progressive salsa' of the early seventies, this is as experimental a track as I've ever heard from him.

Take good care of the catalog, Codigo!


esta es mi orquestra - tito rodriguez (fania)
de la timba a pogliotti - pupy y los que son son (egrem)
margarita - toto la momposina (astar)
music - titi (unknown)
conjoined - demdike stare (modernlove)
combat rhythm - two fingers (ninja tune)
di trees - aidonia & tarrus riley (no label)
love and special dub - autonon (fresh poulp)
sound killer - liquid stranger (interchill)
wild (remix) - meat beat manifesto (thirsty ear)
deft - phantom orchard (mego)
ducheng - david sait/ladonna smith (no label)
new day - leroy gibbon (dakarai)
pollution - john clarke (wackies)
time tuff - i roy (unknown)
get our own piece - gisto (wassabi)
black madonna dub - dubmatix (interchill)
mr. money man - pulshar (phonobox)
make it with you - pat satchmo (high school)

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