When jazz moved away from its dance-hall roots in the 1950s and started getting all cerebral on us, it lost something magical (and, in the process, gained a number of complexities that furthered the form): a steady, danceable rhythm, one that you could tap your toe to and get all hot and bothered by. As fate would have it, though, Latin American musicians were, around the same time, discovering jazz and infusing glorious percussive rhythms into their version of the form, and the result was the heavenly, groove-based vibe that easily needled its way into your hot blood and made a beeline for the lovin' spot.
Combining the instrumentation and dynamics of jazz with an overflow of percussion -- timbals, bongos, congas, drums -- Henry Lee Brown, a.k.a. Pucho, has been creating a blissful combo of Latin and jazz since his youth, spent in the thick of the Harlem Latin/jazz melting pot of the '50s. His classic Latin-jazz releases recently reissued by the great acid-jazz label Ubiquity Records, Yaina and Super Freak, showcase some of this mamboesque fire (the latter combines a hefty dose of Curtis Mayfield funk -- the band does burning versions of "Superfly," "Pusherman" and "Freddie's Dead"), but those were recorded more than 25 years ago. Pucho's recent release, Caliente con Soul! (Cubop/Ubiquity) forks over the raw stuff -- a combo of jazz, Latin jazz, soul and funk that melts into one liquid vibe. On record, the results are phenomenal, but the main purpose the record serves is as a teaser for the live show. This show (TONIGHT!) should be a barn-burner. Drop everything. Don't miss it.