Friday, August 18, 2017

Nuyorican Soul (feat. Roy Ayers) – Sweet Tears

Classics: Nuyorican Soul – Sweet Tears (Talkin’ Loud)

A quick look at history tends to show as to how only those who released quality material happened to deeply love music and respect it. Therefore meaning by extension that crap music is the work of the ones who have no clue nor taste. The latter unfortunately forming the majority.

Props are most likely due to Maurice Bernstein and Jonathan Rudnick of Giant Step Records in NYC. But also to Gilles Peterson at Talkin’ Loud for havin’ blessed us with the release of the Nuyorican Soul album back in 1996. A concept which most likely stands as the very last ambitious project that has seen the light in the history of contemporary music. Bringin’ us back to the souvenir of those super productions which appeared during the Disco heydays. With the first label names comin’ to mind being Philadelphia International Records, Salsoul Records or Prelude to name a few.

As for those who crafted this Nuyorican Soul album – Louie Vega and Kenny Dope – it stands as a brilliant digest of their roots. Jammin’ along with some of their heros, including Jazz Funk vibraphonist Roy Ayers. Meanwhile revamping his classic ‘Sweet Tears’. The latter admittin’ this version was even better than the original. And the fact is Louie and Kenny pretty much did what it takes to achieve this. Bringin’ Lisa Fisher, Cindy Mizelle and Jocelyn Brown to secure the backing vocals. But also hiring a violin 14 piece section, along with Vincent Montana, Jr. in charge of the strings.

I wish there would have been a follow-up album. Alas, it unfotunately never saw the light. Most likely because of both production but even more promotion costs. As a result, no one has ever done any music like this since. This makin’ of this album such an unvaluable testimony. Don’t you think?
The first mention to Nuyorican Soul dates from 1993 with the release of ‘The Nervous Track’ on Nervous Records.

Nothing more from then on until 1996 and the release of a self-titled album. “Nuyorican” (meaning “New Yorker” in Spanish) being a reminder of both Louie Vega and Kenny Dope‘s Puerto-Rican roots. Although both of them have a slightly different background. With Louie (Hector Lavoe‘s nephew) inheriting from Fania / Salsoul Records’ influences. And Kenny being more of a Hip-Hop B-Boy guy. The twosome getting their connection via Todd Terry and makin’ themselves a name under various guises such as KenLou and Masters At Work.

As a result, ‘Nuyorican Soul’ stands pretty much as their legacy. Paying props to classics that have nurtured their teens such as The Salsoul Orchestra‘s ‘Runaway’ featuring Loleatta Holloway. Or Rotary Connection‘s ‘I’m The Black God Of The Sun’. But also collaborating with some of their heros from Roy Ayers to Tito Puente, George Benson and Vincent Montana, Jr. among others. This giving birth to gems such as ‘Our Time Is Coming’, ‘You Can Do It’ and ‘Sweet Tears’. Not to mention ‘It’s Alright, I Feel It!’ which received countless remixes, from Roni Size to Armand Van Helden or Mood II Swing.

Louie and Kenny told me about their aim to release a follow-up, eventually mentionning their will to collaborate with Manu Dibango among others. Alas, the project never saw the light. Most likely due to the promotional costs of the volume 1, with so many legendary artists on board.

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