Cuba & Jimmy Sabater penned one of the most infectious dance hits ever. It
is impossible to keep still while listening to their original recording of “Bang
Bang.” Dizzy Gillespie’s cover was just as groovy, but with more trumpet. Heck,
even David Sanborn’s cover is catchy. It was one of a handful of Latin
Boogaloos that defined a short-lived but still fondly remembered Latin music
craze. Matthew Ramirez Warren’s chronicles the music’s heyday and the musicians
that forged its funky trail in We Like It
Like That: the Story of Latin Boogaloo (trailer here), which screens
this week during the Music Movies series at the Yerba Buena Center for the
the 1960s, you heard R&B and soul on the radio. For young musicians coming
up in neighborhoods like East Harlem, it was natural to integrate the sounds of
their generation with the Latin music they grew up with. Thus Latin Boogaloo
was born, more or less. More than anything, they had a groove.
were only a handful of really classic, influential boogaloos, like “Bang Bang,”
Pete Rodriguez’s “I Like it Like That,” Johnny Colon’s “Boogaloo Blues,” and
Joe Bataan’s “Gypsy Woman,” but they briefly spawned a host of followers. Many
Latin musicians were strongly encouraged record boogaloos. Some embraced them,
like Ray Barretto, whereas others were less enthusiastic, such as Larry Harlow (whose
presence as a respectful dissenter greatly enriches the film). Then, suddenly
around the time Fania Records really established its hegemony over the Latin
music industry, the boogaloo just seemed to vanish.
and the musicians he interviews do a great job of breaking down the process of
getting down with a boogaloo. Although many were self-taught or informally schooled,
it is clear everyone understands music at a very high level. Yet, the
documentary is never dry or technical.
Far from it. We Like grooves
just as hard as the music it surveys.
54 remains the greatest Latin music doc ever, due to
its elegant simplicity and the sheer virtuosity of the performances it
captures, but We Like still ranks way
up there. We are necessarily overusing derivations of the word “groove” because
that is what it is all about at its core. Indeed, Warren’s film is like a
party, except it also comes with a lesson in Twentieth Century music history. Great
nostalgic fun, We Like It Like That screens
this Thursday (12/3) and next Sunday (12/6) as part of Music Movies at the
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.
Labels: Documentary, Latin Boogaloo, YBCA