Various Artists: New York Latin Hustle! The Sound of New York

Various Artists
New York Latin Hustle! The Sound of New York
Soul Jazz

With a title that vague and redundant, New York Latin Hustle! The Sound of New York might come off as one of the less rigorously defined historical snapshots from the reissue ranks of Soul Jazz. After all, the label tends to keep its collections cohesive (see their Studio One collections, or last year's A Tom Moulton Mix). But this comp takes the phrases "Latin" and "New York" and comes up with everything from a few early-'60s mambo numbers to J. Walter Negro and the Loose Jointz's '81 disco-funk-rap classic "Shoot the Pump"—not exactly a pinpoint focus.

It works to this collection's advantage, actually: If you're going to call a comp of Latin music The Sound of New York, it helps to touch as many bases as possible. Disjointed sequencing notwithstanding—from '61 mambo into '79 disco into '72 soul-jazz, and so forth—there's a valuable history lesson here, covering some of the major flashpoints of the NuYorican movement in the '60s and '70s. Mambo, bugalu, and salsa are all represented well, but the best selections highlight the moments where Latin and black sounds audibly merged.

Notable covers include Archie Bell and the Drells' dance-craze funk "Tighten Up" by Al Escobar, and McFadden & Whitehead's Philly soul-disco celebration "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" (as "No Nos Pararan") by La Charanga 76. There's also the requisite take on b-boy standby "Soul Makossa" (by Johnny Zamot), the Alexander Review's raunchy funk workout "Snidely Whiplash" (which recasts the Dudley DoRight villain as some sort of uber-mack), and the space-dub disco of "Dancin' and Prancin'," from Cuban conga maestro Candido. Plus there's representation for essential icons like Ray Barretto, Willie Colon, and Tito Puente—and scattershot or not, New York Latin Hustle serves them well.