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Nuyorican Soul 1993 - now

Nuyorican Soul (1997) - Nuyorican Soul [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

The Larry Levan Link


The Larry Levan link is fascinating. not because, somewhat obviously, songs such as 'It's Alright (I Feel It!)', 'I Am the Black Gold of the Sun', 'Runaway', 'Sweet Tears' and even 'You Can Do It (Baby)' would have slotted nicely into one of Garage DJ's famously eclectic marathon sets, but because Nuyorican Soul represented the material fulfilment of one of his most ambitious yet unrealised dreams. "Larry's biggest idea was that all the singers and all the DJs should get together and do a triple album," remembers Brown, a regular Garage performer who used to cook supper for Levan. "The DJs would choose an artist to perform a song that they've always wanted to remix. I was like, "C'mon! That's so farfetched! And now Masters at Work have practically done it. Larry was right again!"

Expensive Shit

The Masters had hoped to feature Kuti on the Nuyorican Soul album, and when it became clear that the king of Afrobeat was too ill to appear, they persuaded Eddie Palmieri to perform 'Expensive Shit' - although the Latin pianist eventually decided he wanted to play 'Taita Caneme' and 'Habriendo El Dominante'. The Afrobeat hole was never filled and, following Kuti's untimely passing in August 1997, MAW decided to rework 'Expensive Shit', bringing in a trademark team of diverse and talented vocalists and musicians that included Kunle Ade, Mojisala Adeagbo, Tony Kadleck, Folorunsho 'Foly' Kolade, Abiola Olaniyi '77', John Scarpulla, Luisito Quintero, Dave Valentin, John Wheeler and Wunmi. "We knew that we couldn't top the original, but we had ideas" says Vega. "It was another epic."

DJ Team

One could say that NuYorican Soul, a Latin DJ team, was formed in 1996 in New York, but it's not quite so simple as all that. Really, the band plays Latin influenced house music and there are enough aliases to keep you ruminating for a while. The team is Kenny Gonzales, also known as "Dope", and "Little" Louie Vega. The team itself is better known as Masters at Work. And they were already prominent DJs in the early 80s, well before they became NuYorican Soul.

Both of these native New Yorkers are of Puerto Rican heritage and grew up with Latin rhythms, mambo, and salsa around them. Later, they were influenced by the Chicago house style, New York hip-hop, and the evolving Latin freestyle. Just to further complicate matters, they are involved with and remix, DJ and perform as Master at Work, NuYorican Soul, Vega and/or Gonzalez, KenLou, the Bucketheads, and the Untouchables.

The First Album

Since the first release of "The Nervous Track", Masters At Work's Nu Yorican Soul project has been one of the most highly acclaimed and ground-breaking acts in the dance community, breaking out from being held in just the house category, and crossing over into several different musical genres - meanwhile blurring the lines between the styles and combining them with ease and style - unlike so many others who have attempted to do the same, and instead ending up alienating one style or another.

The story begins back in 1993, when Nervous Records first released "The Nervous Track" - a Masters At Work track placed under the alias of Nu Yorican Soul - one of their many various guises. Three years later, in 1996, a follow-up single, "Mind Fluid", was released, along with the news of an upcoming album. Talkin' Loud label manager Gilles Peterson had hooked up with Masters At Work and an album deal had been arranged and was being worked on. The first two singles already boasted brilliant instrumental work percussionist Starvin' T, but the best was yet to come.

Miss FunkyFlyy's Loleatta Biography The third single, "You Can Do It (Baby)", had George Benson scatting, working his guitarist skills and laying down smooth vocals over nearly 16 minutes of pure funk jazz, with a beat (provided by Kenny "Dope" Gonzalez) that blew away anyone that was too used to listening to pure 4/4 beats. The fourth single, "Runaway", a cover of the Lolleata Holloway classic, features the unique vocals of "Little" Louie Vega's ex-wife India, along with guitarist Ronnie James and strings by Vincent Montana Jr.. "Runaway" was the first single to receive reconstructions by outside remixers: Armand Van Helden provided a 11-plus minute funky hard house remix that often crosses the border into some disco-vibes, while Mousse T gave in a soulful house remix. Just when you think the guest list on the first four singles can't be surpassed, the album proves you wrong, hosting even more legendary stars: Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri, Roy Ayers, Dave Valentin, wheels-of-steel master Jazzy Jeff, and vocalists such as Paulette McWilliams, Jocelyn Brown, and Lisa Fisher. Needless to say, the album is nothing short of legendary...
source was http://www.galaxyrecords.com/InDaMix/nys.html


  1. Nuyorican Soul [CD, Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    Little Louis Vega and Kenny "Dope" Gonzalez, the New York DJs/producers otherwise known as Masters At Work have consistently ignored musical rules when creating their genre-busting music. Nowhere is that refusal more apparent than on their 1997 Nuyorican Soul project. The aim was to explore New York's rich musical heritage by fusing quality jazz, latin, Salsoul disco, funk and hip-hop together. The result was a typically melody-soaked, sublime but burly MAW-style atomic jam, perfect for both dance floor and lounge. Supported by a cross-generational cast of musicians including vibraphonist Roy Ayers, vocalist Jocelyn Brown, New York salsa queen India and Philly hip-hop producer Jazzy Jeff among others, the pair joyously straddled the house/retro divide. Not only was this a ground-breaking album but Vega and Gonzalez successfully resurrected the credible careers of those who had become known as schmaltzy easy-listening fodder: their version of Rotary Connection's "I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun" fused swirling keys with only the best wonky disco ingredients. Sweetly sung by Jocelyn Brown (who previously was under-used as an archetypal shrieking diva), this is a five-minute slice of pure joy that doesn't fail to move. They masterfully reconstructed the glory days of legendary guitarist/singer George Benson with his contribution to the glorious "You Can Do It (Baby)". Elsewhere they provided Roy Ayers with his best material in aeons with "Sweet Tears" and gave us a real taste of real Nuyorican latin-jazz with the great pianist Eddie Palmeiri on " Taita Caneme" and "Habriendo El Dominante". Nuyorican Soulis an unpredictable, inventive, wonderful, landmark album. --Na'solo So' Fahed for Amazon.co.uk

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