Honest Jon’s Records’ Boogaloo Pow Pow: Dancefloor Rendez-vous in Young Nu Yorica is a fascinating glimpse into the ignition of a culture on the periphery. It’s also a magnificent display of an expressive breakthrough that comes at the intersection of two cultures, a clash that’s at the heart of the boogaloo sound. Willie Rosario’s “Calypso Blues” opens the record, and the singer questions his new life as a New York immigrant: “Don’t got the money to take me back to Trinidad/ Me throat she sick from necktie/ Me feet she hurt from shoes/ Me pocket full of empty/ I got calypso blues.”
Boogaloo Pow Pow illuminates the diversity of Latino dance music in 1960s New York better than previous collections, even better than Soul Jazz’s excellent New York Hustle. To say that there’s a substantial array of styles here is an understatement. The sounds shift fluidly from Latin jazz and bolero to Cubop and earlier Afro-Cuban styles, from cha cha chá and típico to guaguancó and pachanga, salsa to the unique style of 1960s Nu Yorica.
Boogaloo Pow Pow is an empowering blend of scorching dance grooves, horns of fire and a proudly conscious Spanish, English and Spanglish lyrics. It gives the music a distinctive identity that rejects and leaves behind both the whitewashing of the "American melting pot" and the atrocities of Latin American colonialism.