Jonathan Goldman sure seems like one interesting dude. An Associate Professor at New York Institute of Technology, Goldman edited the seminal study Joyce and the Law (University of Florida Press, 2017) and leads one of the most famous reading groups for one of Joyce's most infamous works, Ulysses. And as lead trumpet and bandleader for New York's own Spanglish Fly, he's one of the world's leading proponents of the irresistibly liberating rhythms, sounds and beats of Latin soul and boogaloo.
A musical polyglot from Argentina, Columbia, Ecuador, Japan, Puerto Rico, Upper Manhattan and Venezuela, Spanglish Fly sort of congealed around Goldman's club DJ alter-ego Johnny Semi-Colon around 2009, when Goldman began noticing that his DJ gigs often shifted into a riotous higher gear when he played classic Latin boogaloo jams by Mongo Santamaria, Joe Cuba, Joe Battan and the like.
Ay Que Boogaloo! realizes one of its leader's most longstanding musical dreams. "When I started the band a zillion years ago, I planned to have two women lead singers, inspired by records by Ray Terrace, The Latin Blues Band, and Joey Pastrana," Goldman explains. "That plan fell by the wayside, but was finally revived with Mariella Gonzalez and Paloma Muñoz, who work together beautifully."
Gonzalez inhabits "You Know I'm No Good" with a full-blooded vocal that takes over Amy Winehouse's original, a burning wound of pain, regret, longing, frustration, and contempt, like an all-consuming spirit. Listening to the first slow section, you get the feeling that the band is struggling to hold itself backand then her long throaty final note rips away the dam, and the band launches into its incendiary second movement "Chica Mala Mambo," an incredible hailstorm of percussion, vocals and piano with a saxophone solo that scrapes against the ceiling and leaves the singer to lay weeping on the floor.
Battan hops on the B-train ("talking to you from way back") for "New York Rules," a sweet boogaloo shuffle about how New Yorkers can take pretty much anything in stride which the ensemble cleverly ties up in the famous riff from "Take the 'A' Train," Billy Strayhorn's signature tune for The Duke Ellington Orchestra.
British conguero Mark "Snowboy" Cotgrove joins in the group's complete obliteration of Aretha Franklin's famous declaration of independence "Chain of Fools" in a Latin big band instrumental. The arrangement harmonizes the horns into one tangy and sharp sound that "sings" the chorus in harmony as bassist Rafael Gomez thumps out James Brown monsterfunk behind them. Goldman's trumpet wails out the first verse hard and hot, the best instrumental playing of the entire set...until the band cuts Snowboy loose for a solo break so incendiary that it burns through your ears like one long percussive blur. It is simply incredible.
"Ojalá-Inshallah" picks out the Middle Eastern threads in the Afro-Cuban Latin jazz diaspore"the Arabic roots of Latinos, framed in a son montuno," suggests annotator Bobby Sanabriawith vocals suggesting the sound of communal prayer at Mecca. Just as importantly, "Ojalá-Inshallah" triumphantly realizes Goldman's vision for Spanglish Fly: "A multi-ethnic, multi-gender, multi-national, multi-generational group (was) recording an album of Afro-Caribbean music with lyrics in Spanish and English (and a bit of French and Arabic)."
Bugalú pa' mi Abuela (featuring El Callegueso); New York Rules (featuring Joe Bataan); You Know
I'm No Good/Chica Mala Mambo; Ojalá-Inshallah; La Clave e'Mi Bugalú; Boogaloo Shoes; Mister
Dizzy Izzy (featuring Flaco Navaja and Izzy Sanabria); Chain of Fools (featuring Snowboy); Coco
Helado (featuring Rowan Ricardo Phillips); How Do You Know/Cómo Sabes.
Mariella Gonzalez: lead vocals, coro; Paloma Muñoz: lead vocals, coro; Matt Thomas: tenor sax,
coro; Rafael Gomez: bass, acoustic guitar, cuatro, coro; Kenny Bruno: piano, organ, coro; Arei
Sekiguchi: timbales, drumkit; Dylan Blanchard: congas, coro; Ronnie Roc: bongos, bells, coro;
Teddy Acosta: timbales, percussion, coro; Vera "Trombonita" Kemper: trombone, bass trombone;
Edwin "Machuco" Estremera: soneos, coro; Jonathan Goldman: trumpet, coro, wrangling; Manuel
Garcia-Orozco: guitar, organ, vocals; John Speck: trombone; Morgan Price: baritone sax; Jonathan
Flothow: baritone sax; Richie Robles: coro; Joe Bataan: vocals; Snowboy: congas; Flaco Navaja:
vocals. Cameos: Charlie Goldman, Imogen Phillips Royo, Louis Price, Maia Gomez-Leal, El
Callegueso, Izzy Sanabria, Rowan Ricardo Phillips.
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