Barrio Nuevo is an ambitious collection of Latin fusion. The collection tries to bring the music of Latin neighborhood out of the confines of Spanish Harlem, East L.A., and Little Havana. The emphasis of the collection is the clashing of cultures, which gives artists like War and Patti LaBelle a place despite their lack of Latin roots. Thankfully, the collection sticks to the idea of mutual influence instead of trying to take on the gargantuan task of putting together an overview of Latin funk, rock, disco, and soul as is advertised on its album sleeve. All tracks feed off of the music of black American or traditional Latin music, each taking a piece of the other, depending on what background the musicians were coming from. Soul Jazz is very successful in deciding the boundaries of their collection and following those guidelines very strictly. The tracks are varied, slipping from one end of the spectrum to other without any loss in coherence. They have chosen tracks that may not be as well known but are at least the equals of more popular tracks. This is most evident in the lack of the inclusion of the extremely popular homage to East L.A. car fanatics, "Lowrider." The kitsch hit would seem out of place knowing that one of War's harder funk tracks would be ignored because of it. It is hard to pinpoint the Latin influence in "Me & Baby Brother," but the Meters-style funk is pure and seems to make their disco tracks inexcusable. Chakachas provide two monster lounge tracks that were featured in the film Boogie Nights. "Stories" and "Jungle Fever," despite their simplicity, are the standout tracks on the collection. The group apparently being from French Guyana and slipping into obscurity after having success with these two tracks make them hard to come by. Barrio Nuevo collects party tracks showing how Latin music has influenced and been influenced by black American music.
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AllMusic Review by Matt Whalley