This week’s Beat Latino started, really, with my Gozamos interview with Will Rast, founder of DC’s funk masters- The conversation with Rast took me back to reflect on a love for Latin funk, soul and boogaloo that began in grade school. To clarify – the early part of my life divided between Mexico and the U.S. consisted of a rather fresa south-of-the-border facet in San Luis Potosí, and a life on this side of the Rio Grande centered on a parochial grade-school in St. Louis, Missouri whose students were was mostly African-American. Consequently, my earliest musical memories veer between rancheras, tríos and José José on the one hand and James Brown and Sly and the Family Stone on the other.
This hour of Beat Latino is an ode to one of the genres that happily brings together both the Latin and the Afro side of music – funky Latin tunes of all flavors – from classic covers from Venezuela and Panamá to funky DJ mixes from Colombia, Brazil and Chile and the latest tunes from Brazil. It’s a show that was so much fun put together, it’s hard to pick a few favorites, but I’ll try.
Colombia is a country that we are glad held on to both funk and the bugalú long after the rest of the world seemed to have gotten over it. The large, young and wildly talented ensemble of La 33 (named for one of Bogotá’s main avenues) with their Funky Boogaloo bring on the ultra-danceable funk with the touch of a salsa-fied shing-a-ling.
This was one of my favorite discoveries while researching this week’s Beat Latino: an awesomely funky cover by a somewhat mysterious group formed in either Colombia or Venezuela by Porfi Jimenez, a renowned Dominican trumpet player who spent most of his professional life in Venezuela. It would be hard to improve Nigerian Fela Kuti’s classic “Let’s Start”, but Porfi’s group, Phirpo y Los Caribes, truly do it justice.
And of course, this week’s Beat Latino also shares funky Latin from the USA such as Austin’s eight-member ensemble Brownout, founded by members of the Grammy-winning Grupo Fantasma. Brownout’s mostly instrumental tunes take the funk all the way to the border and back with a smart, jazzy and slightly psychedelic tinge.