Giant Step Records
Consider this musical order: Mix hip-hop, soul, electronica, disco and jazz, and then refract it through a Hispanic-flavored cultural lens, highlighting and reemphasizing the deeply Latinized elements in all of them. An ambitious concept to be sure, but Nuyorican Soul (Giant Step GSR3P-2-90041, 74:11, 17:26) pulls it off without a hitch. The brainchild of producers Kenny "Dope" Gonzales and "Little" Louis Vega, the disc features appearances by a dizzying array of stars: George Benson (whose now familiar scat-picking finds an extremely favorable backdrop in the percussive "You Can Do it Baby"), Jocelyn Brown, Roy Ayers, Steve Turre, Eddie Palmieri and Tito Puente, among others. That the project draws the diverse strands of club culture into a seamless whole is, to say the least, impressive. From Brown's aerodynamic rendition of "Black Gold," to the 6/8 swing of "Jazzy Jeff's Theme" to Tito Puente's version of Cal Tjader's "Shoshana" it re-demonstrates the enormous creative potential of the deejay's syncretic aesthetic, linking various styles of music with one propulsive chain.