Hammock House ‘Africa Caribe’ (Fania Records 2011)
Hammock House ‘Africa Caribe’ is a two CD collection that gives new life to classic Latin jazz and salsa musical pieces from the essential Fania Records catalog. It is an exquisite mix of down-tempo and fiery Afro-Cuban and Brazilian beats, futuristic jazz, and cutting edge electronica.
Michael Rucker, chief marketing officer of Codigo Group (current owner of Fania Records) came up with the original idea of Hammock House. The plan was to use reconfigured material from Fania’s archives to follow the path taken by the musics from West Africa to the Caribbean. Michael Rucker knew that the reputable producer and DJ Joe Claussell was the right person for the job.
Late last year, Fania Records hand delivered the original multi-track recordings in a battered cardboard box to Joe Claussell’s New York City studio. Inside was a round metal reel wrapped with many feet of rolled magnetic tape, and a crumbling “Track Report” sheet from the 1970s. “When the carrier came to my place with all these boxes, I had an Indiana Jones moment, like when he opens the treasure chest and the glow of gold light shines up on his face,” says Joe. “It was miraculous that they were still around, and the history of this stuff is just amazing.”
Hammock House is not the average set of remixes. Clausell approached every track differently. “Some songs were edited, some were time-stretched…many parts were re-recorded…some new parts were recorded on top,” says Joe. “I would listen to these songs and think what am I going to do to that?! A lot of them sounded perfect as they were. But the mentality of the ‘60s and ‘70s, when it came to music, people were just creating as artists – from the soul, from the heart. They took a lot of the technical stuff for granted. They were making music, not thinking about different mixes or anybody touching their art in the future. So I tried to keep the integrity of what’s there. Fania is very sacred to the Puerto Rican and Cuban heritage, so it was important that it get taken in by the right hands.”
The first disc is a live continuous mix by Claussell. His concept was to create an epic journey that begins in the Motherland (Africa) and moves to New York. “I wanted to do a futuristic mix, where stories are being created with soundscapes and tapestries, and segues work as introductions to each story. I wanted to create bridges through different rhythms, so I worked with my brother Jose, as well as other percussionists and musicians in the studio, to create parts that flow between. I mixed it live with four CD players, effects, and reel-to-reel, then took it into the studio and tightened up some of the levels through editing. I wanted to mix it live so you get more of a human feel from it, to stay true to the texture of this music. And I really wanted it to reflect on the process of working on this whole project. Looking back, I’m honored and grateful to get to work on such historical music – and music I grew up with.”
The second album includes nine fabulous classic Fania tunes, including ‘African Fantasy’ by Lou Perez, ‘Mambo Mongo’ by Mongo Santamaria, ‘Chango’ by Celia Cruz, ‘Lucumi’ by Eddie Palmieri, ‘Exodus’ by Ray Barretto, ‘O Mi Shango’ by Mongo Santamaria, ‘Yoruba Chant’ by Eddie Palmieri, and ‘Me Voy Ahora’ by Ismael Miranda.
Hammock House ‘Africa Caribe’ is a totally addictive remix collection of Afro-Latin classics produced by one of the leading figures in the international electronic dance music scene.
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Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.