Jazz Caliente: Revisiting Latin Soul And Boogaloo

Mar 31, 2017

Second cousin to the Latin jazz we play on Jazz Caliente is the blend of jazz, Latin, soul and funk that grew up in the streets of New York in the 1960s.  Called Latin soul or boogaloo, it's rhythmic, fun and immensely danceable.

Boogaloo came from the mix of cultures in the East Harlem and South Bronx neighborhoods; primarily Puerto Rican, Cuban and African-American.  The teenagers of those cultures in the 1960s were intent on being acknowledged as Americans, while still respecting their heritage.  They welcomed the cross-pollination of language, fashion, food and music.  

While not the first boogaloo song, Joe Cuba's "Bang Bang" was certainly the most popular, and it became the anthem for the Latin soul movement.

Latin soul artists you'll hear on Jazz Caliente include El Gran Combo del Puerto Rico, Ray Barretto, Mongo Santamaria, Willie Bobo, Poncho Sanchez and the "King of the Boogaloo" Henry Pucho Brown & His Latin Soul Brothers.  

Pucho Brown was the least well-known of these artists, until boogaloo was rediscovered by British hipsters in the 1990s and renamed "Acid Jazz."  

Pucho is a Jazz Caliente favorite.  He always had the best musicians in his band, and he'd get frustrated when better-recognized bandleaders like Willie Bobo and Mongo Santamaria would steal his sidemen away by offering them more money.

The boogaloo movement didn't last long before it transitioned to a form of salsa, and unfortunately, disco.  But the old boogaloo songs still get people of all ages out on the dance floor.

Find out more from the truly entertaining film "We Like It Like That:  The Story of Latin Boogaloo."  Here's the trailer:

Jazz Caliente airs Saturdays at 5:00 p.m. The program is hosted by Robin Lloyd and produced by KNKX Public Radio.