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Pucho and his Latin Soul Brothers: How’m I Doin’?

In the late 1960s, Henry Lee “Pucho” Brown helped popularize the Latin-soul sound. Enjoying enormous popularity during this period, Pucho and his counterparts fused the polyrhythms of Latin music, the soulful harmonies of popular doo-wop groups and the mammoth sounds of big-band jazz into a decidedly new music that became known as Latin soul. Joined by the Latin Soul Brothers from 1966 to 1969, Pucho released nearly half a dozen best-selling records on the Prestige label.

Nearly 40 years later, Latin rhythms have seemingly been embraced by a new generation of jazz musicians, making the scene once again ripe for a musician of Pucho’s caliber. Indeed, on How’m I Doin’?, Pucho proves that he is still a master of Latin soul with eleven uncompromising songs that highlight his formidable skills as a timbalero and bandleader. His Latin Soul Brothers, including keyboardist John Spruill, guitarist Marvin Horne, percussionists Ernesto Colon and Santos Rivera, saxophonist Eddie Pazant and drummer Tyrone Govan, each offer inspired performances. Their skills are augmented by guest appearances by noted musicians like trombonist Fred Wesley, flutist Dave Valentin, saxophonist Eric Alexander and trumpeter Lew Soloff.

Spruill’s organ on the title track is a fitting opener to this soulful disc. The tune has a funk-heavy groove augmented by exciting percussive bursts throughout. Valentin’s virtuosic ability on flute is showcased on the bolero “Somewhere in the Night,” while Pucho’s clever reworking of the O’Jays’ “For the Love of Money” allows Fred Wesley to offer a memorable solo on trombone. However, the standout tune seems to be Pucho’s “Vietnam Mambo,” originally featured on his debut record in 1966. The updated version of the mambo finds Pucho laying down furious rhythms on timbales, proving to listeners that after almost four decades of spreading the Latin-soul gospel, Pucho is still doing quite well.

Originally Published