New York Boogaloo

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Spanglish Fly
New York Boogaloo
Chaco World Music (

While boogaloo's heyday in the 1960s was short, it tenaciously if sporadically holds onto life. The group Spanglish Fly moves the base of operations to Brooklyn from Spanish Harlem, but it shows us that the powerful musical stew can still make us smile and get us wanting to move.

Boogaloo sprang out of New York's mix of African American and Latin American communities, taking the chewy funk of soul and making it dance to the clave. This second album from Spanglish Fly regularly captures the music's original street-oriented spirit of fun and deceptively easygoing musicality. Bandleader Jonathan Goldman, a fan of the overlooked old style, pulled together some Brooklyn brass players, Latin rhythm section musicians and fronted the band with the sultry deep vocals of Erica Ramos.

The band opens its debut with a manifesto of sorts, “Brooklyn Boogaloo,” which give shouts out to some of the borough's highlights to a mid-tempo beat. Elsewhere it translates Woody Guthrie's “This Land is Your Land,” carps about getting hassled by the “po-po” and, in a contemporary twist, the female narrator of “Me Gusta Mi Bicecleta,” tells a would-be suitor to get his butt on two wheels or get gone. There is even a cross-town tip of the hat to beloved Yankee ace reliever Mariano Rivera.

Spanglish Fly keeps it light – no angst, no heavy-handed politics, no snooty art pretense. The band is all about having fun – it's a party soundtrack: bar-band energy, small “d” democratic, and not ashamed to be a little silly.

The album is well-arranged across the board, and while the band's street cred lyrics occasionally feel a bit forced, these neo-boogalooists make up for it in enthusiasm and workmanlike professionalism. - Marty Lipp

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