NOW HERE’S a tidy little gem from those ever-reliable sound curators Rocafort Records, a second sparkling collection of treasures from the early 70s’ boogaloo explosion courtesy of the sharp-suited composer, band leader and pianist Alfredito Linares.
This was a time of the Nuyorican wave, when salsa swept up some rock ‘n’ roll and broke out across the New York Latin jazz scene. It was also the moment for Peruvian Linares to seize the opportunity to ride the musical storm, release two defining albums, 1968’s El Pito and Yo Traigo Boogaloo from ‘69 – and then take it further.
Selected tracks from these two LPs made up the fast selling Volume 1 compilation released by Rocafort in December last year. Now follows the second volume, available from April 30th, which drills down deeper into Linares’ scorching boogaloo . As is the Rocafort way, the release comes digitally and as a sharp set of three 7” singles niftily tucked into an arty presentation box.
So what do you get in the package? The rampant Latino garage-rocking “Boogaloo Girl” is a good rip-it-up starting point, with its driving bass and reverberating piano riff laying down the beat as the tight horns add the colour. Vocals are gloriously minimal, there’s quickfire chanting, hand claps are by necessity at the double and everything is spontaneously in the right place at the right time. Alternatively “Ponte en Onda” is a classic slice of speed rumba, featuring that telepathic conversation between swooning tenor voices and the bonded horn lines while the fine engineered percussion spins the song around on its axis. This is salsa with a hard edge marking the moment in the late 60s when a different swing came onto the Latin scene.
That blend of sway and swagger may be the foundation of this second collection of Linares’ pre-Seventies workouts but it’s those moments where the arrangements break with tradition that make this collection stand out. “Tiahuanaco (Puerto Del Sol)” starts with a crisp salsa beat but pushes the urgent trumpet lines to their top register. It’s the sound of the city, excitable and dangerous, which suddenly pauses for breath with a stripped back, mid-tempo bass bump before revving up towards more familiar territory.
“Alma y Sentimiento (Soul and Feeling)” delivers even more unexpected twists, from the lounge jazz opening to horn lines which could soundtrack a cop chase to wild percussion breaks on the very edge of explosion. For salsa aficionados at the time this must have sounded like a car crash – like techno to disco ears.
The final confirmation of Alfredito Linares hip credentials from Vol. 2 comes with the unrepentant boogaloo blast of “Mi Nuevo Ritmo”. Taken at a breakneck pace with the rock n’ roll rhythms in full control, the syncopated banter between the brass stabs and vocal phrases highlight the natural brilliance of Linares and his band. When you consider that these tracks were generally recorded live, often composed on the spot but held together by intuition and improvisational skill, the results are even more astounding. They shook things up back in the day and their raw excitement still packs a considerable punch.