Various Artists | Boogaloo Pow Wow: Dancefloor Rendez-vous in Young Nuyorica

Honest Jon's (2009)
By GUSTAVO TURNER  |  March 3, 2009
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There's been a continuum of Latin music in the US for as long as there've been Latin musicians in the US — that is, pretty much since forever, whether they crossed the border or the border crossed them. The hipper sound diggers have for the past few years been obsessed with "el bugalú," the name given to the percussive dance music played by many Latin bands in the '60s, particularly in New York.

Bugalú can be seen as the missing link between the far more mainstream mambo of the '50s (which eventually became sanitized as cocktail-party music for cliché swingers) and the salsa revolution of the '70s. Honest Jon's compilation is not really a primer (you have many other options for Mongo Santamaria, La Lupe, and benchmarks like "I Like It like That") — instead it's a selection of lesser-known tracks lovingly put together (as is the standard for this excellent label) by dedicated compilers.

Bugalú is revealed here as a fertile, varied palette, encompassing the ancient rhythms of "Descarga Cachao," Kako's hijacking of "Cool Jerk" for a Caribbean joyride, and the jazzy picaresque of Chuito Velez. This is seriously fun dance music from a time and culture when dancing was serious business.
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