Manny Corchado: Pow Wow + Up and Down
From Aprovecha El Tiempo (Swing While You Can) (Decca, 1967).

Barely had early boogaloos like Joe Cuba’s “Bang Bang,” Pete Rodriguez’s “I Like It Like That,” and Ray Barretto’s “El Watusi” become bona fide commercial hits than young Latino combos were coalescing to perform it, savvy older bandleaders were adding it their repertoire, and homegrown New York City record labels were there to package, promote, and, naturally, sell it. This is part of what’s exciting about the boogaloo: for a few years in the ‘60s, there was this great rush to capitalize upon its ephemeral success, and forty years later it makes for a lot of hip, fascinating music. It’s also what’s vaguely disappointing about the boogaloo. After hearing what sounds like your thirty fourth derivation of “Watermelon Man” for the day, you’ll start looking around, exhausted – wondering if maybe there isn’t something a bit formulaic about it all.

Then – heralded as though with a chorus of miniskirt-ed angels – you’ll catch something like 1967’s “Pow Wow.” From its long, soul clapping introduction, “Pow Wow” sails forth in a brilliant burst of percussion, piano, horns, and pure Nuyorican dance floor bravura potent enough – unlike possibly any other boogaloo – to transcend its embarrassing Tonto wampum and “pipa de la paz” chatter.

Sometimes I’ll hear that note perfect nugget of 1970s harmony soul – or, say, some blissed out ’68 pop production – and I’ll scratch my head, amazed that, in its time, the release in question went absolutely nowhere commercially. Not so with Corchado’s “Pow Wow.” It’s obvious why it wasn’t a hit: it’s just too heavy, too booming, too wild. Too everything. Which, of course, is why we love it today.

Loyal Soul Sides readers may already know “Pow Wow” from its recent reissue as part of the fabulous Jazzman 45 series. Less familiar, possibly, is Corchado’s “Up and Down,” a storming jazz mambo with a bottomless bassline, which, even more than “Pow Wow,” showcases the heart stopping power of a full Latin orquesta.

Corchado’s name turns up occasionally in the context of the ‘60s NYC Latin scene (primarily as timbalero for the same Joe Quijano ensemble that recorded an early version of “Up and Down”), though Aprovecha El Tiempo – a sublime mix of mambo, boogaloo, bolero, and Latin jazz – was, alas, his only album as a band leader. This album was part of Decca’s brief lived and forward thinking Latin series, which also included slick releases by Chano Martinez, Joe Panama, Johnny Zamot, and Ozzie Torrens.

–Little Danny (Office Naps)