Skoolwerk EPK Rundown: Nuyorican Soul 1997 [Giant Step Records]

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One of the finest albums in my collection is Nuyorican Soul, released in 1997 on Giant Step records.  Nuyorican Soul was a collaboration spearheaded by Masters At Work duo Louie Vega and Kenny Dope, two of New York’s finest DJ/producers.  Together they called on latin and dance music royalty to create this stellar project loaded with classic latin and dance music grooves. The album features George Benson, Roy Ayers, India, Jocelyn Brown, Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri, Vincent Montana, Jr. and DJ Jazzy Jeff.  As I was sorting thru some old VHS tapes I ran across this promo video for the Nuyorican Soul album. I checked Youtube and to my delight there it was!  I wanted to share this EPK just in case some may have missed it or missed this stellar album all together.  Hard to believe it has been 16 years since this album released but timeless music lives forever.  This album brings back great memories and the EPK featuring behind the scenes bits and pieces is just as exciting! Sure to make you revisit the album today!

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The Godfather of Disco – The Story of Mel Cheren and West End Records

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Last night I spent the evening watching an incredible disco documentary called The Story of Mel Cheren and West End Records.  In this fantastic 80 minute documentary the late Mel Cheren, a recording executive, pioneer and activist tells the story of how he founded the West End record label that promoted disco and fostered the creation of the 12 inch vinyl single, which gained its greatest popularity with club DJs in New York.   And while working for another label, Scepter Records, before founding West End, Mel Cheren came up with the idea of instrumental B-sides for dance singles.  Mel Cheren also talks about how he became the financial backer that helped his business partner and former lover,  Michael Brody, create the world famous Paradise Garage in 1977 out of what was once a parking garage at 84 King Street in the SoHo section of NYC.

The Paradise Garage was the epicenter of DJ culture in the 1970s and ’80s and was the focal point of the Manhattan gay disco scene.  Culturally mixed party goers quickly fell under the spell of  the legendary DJ Larry Levan, where he became a “DJ God” whose sets became referred to as “Saturday Mass”.  The film also gives you some insight on the struggles of the gay community, their push for equality within the club circuit and the horrible, unfortunate grip the AIDS epidemic had within the scene.  By the late 1980s the AIDS epidemic had taken the lives of  so many of Mel Cheren’s friends that he felt compelled to do something.  He founded 24 Hours for Life, a nonprofit group that raised money from the music industry for AIDS relief.

I can’t say enough about how wonderful and nostalgic this documentary is from the incredible music that came from the West End label to the heavy-weight DJs like Louie Vega, Marly Marl, Danny Krivit, Junior Vasquez and Nicky Siano, to name a few, who weigh in to pay their respects to what was once a great New York club culture.  This is a must watch for DJs, disco lovers, collectors and music lovers in general.  It’s worth every second.

Louie Vega Presents: Elements Of Life – ECLIPSE

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It’s been years since Fania Records released a new artist album and this Elements Of Life ‘Eclipse,’ a 2-disc album from Louie Vega’s critically acclaimed live orchestral project is one that was worth the wait.  Eclipse’s first disc showcases 17 brand new tracks from Elements Of Life that tastefully traverse the sounds of Afrobeat, Jazz, Latin, R&B, Gospel, Soul, Blues, Brazilian and World Music all woven with the golden touch of Grammy Award winning Producer/Artist/DJ Louie Vega. The second disc includes “EOL Soulfrito”: an homage to Fania Records through interpretations and remixes of classic Fania songs performed by the Elements Of Life in a 33-minute sound collage as well as six more bonus tracks. The album features Josh Milan (Blaze), Anane’, Cindy Mizelle, Lisa Fischer, Luisito Quintero and Oveous Maximus.