Snowboy and The Latin Section
Thursday, October 10, 2002
Snowboy? His name is what? That was my first impression of this Cuban soul master. How ironic is it that a man named Snowboy can create such red hot, fierce compositions blending Son, Salsa, Mambo, Brazilian and funky Latin music?
Snowboy''s latest release, Para Puente! , is a tribute to the King Of Mambo, Tito Puente. Para Puente! maintains the authenticity of the traditions of Latin music while blending modern rhythms and technologies. Having been an influential pillar in the Latin jazz scene for more than fifteen years, Snowboy has recorded over ten albums with his group The Latin Section, and is a resident DJ at North London''s famed jazz cafe The Hi-Hat.
There are no Puente covers on the album. Para Puente! refuses to cheapen the great masterpieces of Tito Puente. Instead the album serves as a tribute of blistering serenades to Snowboy''s inspiration, and is packed with hip-hugging waves o'' mambo, up-tempo Latin jazz perspiring with sweltering, layered rhythms. Make sure to have an icy chaser on the side while slipping into this notoriously infectious groove. What I find most amusing is how Snowboy has maintained his sub-zero composure while simultaneously emitting his own high level heat wave.
Rhino Home Video/DVD
Source magazine, the hip-hop bible, says this seminal 1982 film about a graffiti artist and the nascent rap scene in the Bronx is/was "the best hip-hop movie." As Public Enemy would say, ''''don''t believe the hype".
Poorly shot, hideously acted (albeit by actual graffiti artist Lee "Zoro" Quinones as leading man), plotless until the very end, Wild Style isn''t a documentary at all, but has some value in the docu department. The caved-in ruins of the South Bronx are still startlingly Beirut-like, the montages of "bombed" (painted) elevated trains still striking and the first rap ensembles, break-dancers and DJ''s are a riot in their Nike suits. Fab Five Freddie, first host of Yo, MTV Raps is the winner here as a savvy hustler/promoter (typecast all the way), the Cold Crush Crew and Double Trouble belt out their signature jams with style and the break dancing is still deft and defiant.
But the difference between rap at its inception (the first rap "loop," the snippet of Chic''s "Good Times'''' that underpinned "Rapper''s Delight," closes the film,) and rock ''n'' roll at its birth is plainly evident-and unfortunate. The audacity of rap was entirely based in the eschewing of melody and structure, but not at all in the tentative nature of the performances, as opposed to the brash, crazed and still intense early recordings of, say, Little Richard or Chuck Berry. Rap became hip-hop, and as the technology improved, so did the fierceness-the opposite happened in rock.
Worth seeing and buying if you loved the Old School, but a better bet is any compilation of Grandmaster Flash, Funky Four Plus Two or Run DMC tracks from the era. At least you don''t have to suffer the b-grade visuals, and the sound is better, too.