Various Artists

Nu Yorica Roots!: The Rise of Latin Music in New York City in the 1960's

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One of the best collections of Latin American music ever assembled, Nu Yorica Roots! compiles some of the funkiest Latin soul and, occasionally, traditional music recorded in the Big Apple during the 1960s and '70s. The disc definitely concentrates on groove tracks, with standout inclusions by Joe Cuba ("El Pito"), Ray Barretto ("Acid," "Together"), and Tito Puente ("Oye Como Va," "Tito on Timbales"). But Nu Yorica Roots! also salutes the more tribal, drum-centered facets of Latin music during the era, with Mongo Santamaria ("Druma Kuyi"), Eddie Palmieri ("My Spiritual Indian"), and Sabu Martinez ("The Oracle") paying homage to their Afro-Cuban roots with flair. Harvey Averne's swinging cover of "The Word" by the Beatles and Orchestra Harlow's dance novelty "Horsin' Up" are a bit silly (even if they're good representations of the Latin soul scene), but without exception, this compilation nails the late-'60s convergence of amazing Latin instrumentalists and more groove-centered black music around El Barrio in East Harlem. Though it's saying quite a bit, Nu Yorica Roots! is the finest compilation produced by the inestimably valuable reissue label Soul Jazz Records.

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