Latin Transformations 32

Flute, Speed, and Rock-Soul

Previous shows have featured only one track by Johnny Pacheco. Pacheco was not a supporter of Boogaloo or Latin Soul and most of his repertoire was simple or conservative or both. He became successful playing with a charanga, a type of band that featured Violins and Flute, mostly his Flute, but after leaving the Alegre label to help found his own, Fania, he began to make Conjunto band recordings: in a Conjunto the Violins are replaced by two Trumpets, influenced by the long running and successful group from Cuba, Sonora Matancera as well as the bands organized by tres player Arsenio Rodriguez. In 1968 Pacheco made a record he called the Latin Piper which featured his Charanga, plus Electric Guitar and a forceful, almost funky trap drummer. Most Pacheco fans hate this recording, though it has a following, mostly for the cuts I am playing. Although the arrangements for the Violins and Flute have all the cloying, disappointing qualities of canned icing, a few of the tracks are interesting and arresting despite themselves. The first set features three of them along with a Flute centered track by Pete Terrace and one from the Pijuan Sextet which features Electric Guitar like the Pacheco tracks. Raisins & Almonds has quite a drum kick and whoever did the Electric Guitar on these tracks can sting like Albert Collins. The playing of Lazy Flute is really hot!

The second set features some excellent tracks that were originally on the small and short lived Speed label. It was started by Stan Lewis, not the more famous man behind the Jewel and Paula labels in Shreveport, LA, but a Stan Lewis who had worked for producer and record label founder George Goldner and managed to get his name on the composer credits to I’ll Be Home by The Flamingos. Goldner had founded the famous latin label, Tico, then several R&B labels like Gee, End and Rama, and in 1965, during the demise of Red Bird, which he had run along with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, he founded the mostly latin label, Cotique with this Stan Lewis. Lewis either left Golder or began to double dip, since he started the Speed label in 1966, with the help of record man Morty Craft, singer Bobby Marin (a brother of producer Richard Marin) and musician/arranger Louie Ramirez. Craft had also done independent work in the R&B and Doo-Wop field, then worked A&R, and as producer for MGM Records, and after that, for the Warwick label. Some observers would note a mixed track record of experience, success and dishonesty. It should not be assumed that when it comes to latin music from the 1940s well into the 1970s, those labels and businesses were unlike the record business for Pop, Rock and Country. What research has been honestly done indicates that the world of latin music and records was just as dishonest, corrupt and sleazy as the Rock, Pop and Country world was.

Speed was in operation from 1966 to 1969, when it was bought by Roulette Records or its holding company, Branston Music, as part of Morris Levy’s many business acquisitions. It released at least seven albums and a number of 45's, and most of this was in 1966, 1967 and early 1968. The Latin Blues Band had the first album on the label and Take A Trip was on the B-side of their 45. The Viva Zapata album, by (Milton) Zapata was virtually the last album on Speed and it tends toward hard, slightly Boogaloo influenced Salsa. Their major latin soul undertaking, Sweet Soul Music, was only on a 45 and not the full length album. The set is completed by all three versions of the same song with slightly different titles. Happy Soul, Happy Man, etc. has been famously sampled and become kind of a cult item.

The last set features Jazz influenced pieces from Pete Terrace and one from the record Tito Puente made with produce George Goldner that has never been re-issued or even culled for compilations, TP on the Bridge, and concludes with two wonderfully driving performances by Hommy Sanz, taken from his lone album on Fonseca Recordsone being a cover of a Yardbirds recording—sandwiching a gritty Guajira from Dominican band leader Johnny Ventura.

  1. Mio
    Pete Terrace
  2. Hold Me Tight
  3. Raisins & Almonds
    Johnny Pacheco
  4. La Bala De Plata
    Pijuan Sextet
  5. Lazy Flute
    Johnny Pacheco
  6. Take A Trip
    Latin Blues Band
  7. So Good
  8. Happy Soul
    Moon People
  9. Happy Man
    Latin Blues Band
  10. Happy Soul with A Hook
    Dave Cortez with the Moon People
  11. Hi!
    Latin Blues Band
  12. TP on the Bridge
    Tito Puente
  13. Carmela
    Pete Terrace
  14. Hommy’s Guajira
    Hommy Sanz
  15. Guajira con Soul
    Johnny Ventura
  16. Heartfull of Soul
    Hommy Sanz


Posted on July 17, 2013 .