When Concord Records decided to branch out into Latin jazz in 1980, it never predicted the kind of success it would have with jazz and non-jazz fans alike. VOA's Doug Levine tells us about the label's ever-growing subsidiary Concord Picante and the release of a new compilation highlighting the past 25 years.
Picante in Spanish means spicy, and like a spicy stew, Concord Picante offers various blends of Latin jazz, from samba and salsa to Afro-Cuban, Brazilian and calypso.
Concord Picante debuted on a high note with the release of percussionist Cal Tjader's Grammy Award-winning album La Onda Va Bien, featuring the cut "Mambo Mindoro."
Latin jazz grew by leaps and bounds in the 1980s and 1990s. As more American jazz artists teamed up to perform with their Latin counterparts, and as traditional Latin artists embraced modern pop, it was only a matter of time before record labels like Concord Picante came calling.
Pancho Sanchez and Mongo Santamaria's "Watermelon Man" is one of 50 standout tracks from Concord Picante's 25th Anniversary Collection.
While new groups are showcased, the collection remembers legendary jazz figures Tito Puente, Cal Tjader and Mongo Santamaria, as well as bossa nova pioneers Manfredo Fest, Laurindo Almeida and Charlie Byrd.
Listen closely, because the music on Concord Picante sounds as fresh today as it did when it was first composed, such as a recording of the Latin jazz standard "Guachi Guaro" ("Soul Sauce") - with the quartet of Chick Corea, Poncho Sanchez, Pete Escovedo and Dave Samuels.
If the previous quarter-century is any indication, Concord Picante will prevail for many years to come. Its silver anniversary collection proves to be as spicy as its name, with enticing tracks by Eddie Palmieri, Tania Maria, Ray Barretto, Monty Alexander, Ozomatli, the Caribbean Jazz Project, and the "Mambo King" himself, Tito Puente.