Wether spotted in the margins of product photos, or spied during hurried office tours, we get a lot of questions about our stereo, which is the usual potluck assemblage of co-worker scrap, anchored by a curious component, the Rotel-RZ8, or simply “The Play Mixer.” Aside from the usual manner of phono/line inputs and outputs, the Play Mixer features an analog drum machine and an echo-effected input for “Mic/Guitar.” Not sure who the target audience was for this artifact, although thanks to this sticker, we can assume Good Earth of San Jacinto had use for it at one time or another.
As was customary with analog drum machines there is a 1:1 ratio of European:Latin rhythms available. We figured our newest arrival Los Nombres would provide a great opportunity to fire up the drums, and show readers what this thing can do. Rotel debuts at :24.
One part War, two parts Santana, a dash of Motown, immersed in a rich Puerto Rican stock, Los Nombres were the undisputed kings of Northern Ohio’s rust-belt barrios. Following successive explosions of brown-eyed and Latin soul in Los Angeles and New York in the mid and late ’60s, Lorain, Ohio’s Boricua underdogs went on a recording tear in nearby Cleveland, going all-in on a series of no-budget recordings at Boddie and Way Out. With a voice that rivaled any on the Fania roster, Willie Marquez led the rotating cast of Latino teens through numerous underfunded recording sessions for the Day-Wood, Beth, and Lorain Sounds imprints, the lo-fi fruits of which are compiled here.
Sign up for a 2012 Vinyl or CD subscription, should you wish to ring in the new year with this fantastic collection of Latin funk and lowrider soul. Should you wish to buy it a la carte, check back January 2nd.
Filed under: Asterisk, Spirit Free | Tags: 2011, Asterisk, Fusion, Jazz, Las Vegas, Spirit Free
After a few years of procrastinating, Numero’s first true jazz release finally gets it due on our Asterisk imprint and is available now (in stores on 11/1/11). The brainchild of show musicians Ron Feuer, Santo Savino, Rick Davis and Orlando Hernandez—steady hands for several of the biggest names on the strip in the 70s—Spirit Free’s Plays Starship is one of the more intriguing musical discoveries to come out of Sin City.
Despite the strenuous schedules shuffling all over the Las Vegas strip and downtown night and day, the group stuck together and created a sound that bucked the trends of current popular jazz trends in Las Vegas at the time. After being approached at a live show by local recording engineer Reice Hamel, the group committed it’s first and only musical artifact to wax. Hamel recorded them first at UNLV and then at his personal studio, the result being a future look into modern jazz’s direction into fusion.
And the track list:
01. Isis Unveiled
04. Guardian Angel
05. Spirit Free
06. Dear Latin Friend
08. Starship (Alternate Take)
The Nombres—originally the Pacesetters—were one of the first groups in post-Project Bootstrap Ohio that reflected the influx of Puerto Ricans to Lorain in the 1950s. Their arrival was intimidating to the town’s segregated population, as newspapers and local officials set to the task of informing the public that Puerto Ricans were by-and-large educated, religious, and, like it or not U.S. Citizens. The Lorain Journal was not the only rustbelt publication to issue back-handed compliments when the new kids on the block did something photogenic. Although the declaration that these talented teens were playing music “to better their lot” reads a hair derogatory, the Pacesetters/Nombres did set an excellent example for generations of musical Puerto Ricans of Ohioan descent.
Propinquity has long been the Numero release most popular in the Numero office but seemingly nowhere else… and sales, unfortunately, have reflected this. So we were more than a little pleased (and shocked) when the alert music editor at Time Out Chicago forwarded us a link to what’s being listened to in the studio while Weezer completes their new album:
Is it possible we’ll see the influence of ethereal harmonies and gauzy soft folk-rock rhythms on Rivers Cuomo and company’s next effort? For the sake of their commercial success, we hope they stick to power pop anthems like “Beverly Hills.” The Fleet Foxes have already taken their hackneyed version of Propinquity’s prettiness into the the stratosphere of indie folk rock… still thousands of miles short of a “Sweater Song.” Nothing beats the original, though. If the Rivers Cuomo stamp of approval is what you were waiting for before pulling the trigger on Propinquity, you can find it here.
In the midst of closing Smart’s Palace, we nearly forgot that Asterisk gave birth to two more titles: Caroline Peyton’s Mock Up and Intuition. While we were busy shipping them out to your favorite record emporiums last week, Tim Perlich at Now Toronto chimed in first with the following:
While most labels are just starting to get back up to speed after the holidays, Chicago’s Numero Group has been busily readying the next two releases in their Asterisk album reissue series – the remarkably great Intuition and Mock Up albums independently recorded in the early 70s by singer/songwriter Caroline Peyton, Bloomington, Indiana’s answer to Joni Mitchell.
Jazzy folk fiends will know that Intuition has previously been reissued on disc (and the song Just As We appeared on the Gilles Peterson Digs America set), but the Asterisk version adds seven bonus demos of otherwise unavailable tracks, and none are throwaways. The ante on Mock Up gets upped with a two-song live video clip recorded at Bloomington’s Hummingbird Café. The performances and production quality will leave you wondering why Peyton isn’t a household name today.
The secret love child of Laura Nyro and Patty Waters is waiting to be adopted. Housebroken and groomed for your record collection by the Numero Group.