Classic Melting Pot

Make It Funky!!!

Super gassed about being apart of this for the second year straight (last year it was called the Funk Rumble Block Party), with a DJ set on the main stage at 9:00pm. If you’re in the Los Angeles area Saturday July 31st, this is where you need to be, 50+ DJs spinning every funky style under the sun, 25+ Artists painting live all around and some of LA’s finest and funkiest on the main stage (schedule below). Early next week I’ll be throwing up a few pictures and probably my set as well. Hope to see you there!

Make It Funky! 2010 July 31st LA Chinatown
Main Stage Schedule:

2:00pm The Remitch {DJ Set}

2:30pm Jeremy Sole {DJ Set}

3:00pm E Reece and Core Elements

3:45pm Jeremy Sole {DJ Set}4:00pm Jeremy Sole’s Musaics

5:00pm The Remitch {DJ Set}

5:45pm Anthony Valadez {DJ Set}

6:45pm Simple Citizens

7:45pm Anthony Valadez {DJ Set}

8:00pm BabyStone

9:00pm Michael Barnes {DJ Set}

9:30pm The Rebirth

10:30pm Anthony Valadez {DJ Seet}

10:45pm Connie Price and the Keystones feat. Percee P, Wildchild from The Lootpack & MC Daakir/Soup of Jurrasic 5

11:45pm The Remitch {Closing DJ Set}

12:00am – 2am Free After Party at The Grand Star Jazz Club (in festival grounds) 21+

Mauricio Smith – Old Shoes
Mauricio Smith – El Green Hornet
Mauricio Smith – Going Uptown

I’ve been on lockdown recently, obsessively focused on putting together a set for the upcoming Make It Funky Music & Arts Fest in Chinatown this Saturday, but I did want to share this swinging record from reedman Mauricio Smith. Smith cut his teeth with Joe Cuba and others, and for this album, which I believe was his debut as a leader, he hooked up with Joe Cain to produce a top notch blend of latin inspired go-go music.

What’s always been a bit perplexing for me is the title, “Bitter Acid.”  While this music certainly burns, there’s nothing bitter about it at all.  The whole record is winner after winner after winner.   Strangely the three tracks I chose follow one another (though not in this order) on side 2. “Old Shoes” is really the Nancy Sinatra classic “These Boots Were Made For Walking,” retaining only the opening signature bass line before busting out with a great and wild go-go beat. “El Green Hornet” is a straight ahead latin rocker, with stinging (pun intended) guitar work from Vinnie Bell. “Going Uptown” was actually the song that Cool Chris of Groove Merchant sold me on this record, with it’s fuzzy guitar and mid-tempo beat.  When I first heard it I swore there was a hand-clap in there too, but subsequent listens have shown my ears to be wrong about that, but little else when it comes to this album.



The Comrades – Bullwalk

Right now my mind is pretty consumed with trying to figure out what I’m going to spin during this Saturday’s Make It Funky! Music & Arts Fest in Chinatown, but I had to post up a little something about this exceptional compilation from the folks at Soundway. If you checked out Side Dishes #1 with Oliver Wang of you’ve already heard a couple tracks on this double CD collection of obscured songs out 1970s Nigeria. Add this devastatingly funky instrumental from the Comrades and you STILL haven’t scratched the surface!  With 33 total tracks, all of them top shelf material, you could get lost in these sounds for days and days and days.

For this week’s show I decided to switch things up a bit. Most weeks I do this show, I spend hours upon hours figuring out how I’m going to fill up the 2 hours I have with you each week. My focus generally is on new music, with probably 70-80% of the music being things that have recently been released or are upcoming and the rest being classic material that connects to these new sounds in one way or another. As a new tradition (and since the show is so new, any tradition would be new), I decided to dedicate the last Sunday of the month to vinyl, think of it as a “Dig Deep” edition of Melting Pot. I don’t plan out these all vinyl shows, just bring in a couple boxes of records and see what develops. This first go round, there was a fair amount of music that I’ve featured here in the Dig Deep section, which makes sense, since all the things I feature here are in my collection. In the future I’ll likely be bringing in guest DJs to spin a guest set or two all on vinyl, stay tuned for more on that in August.

At the top of the second hour, this week’s show also had our first guests at Melting Pot, Chad and Derek, the organizers behind  Make It Funky: Music & Arts Festival in Chinatown (DTLA) July 31st! I’ll be posting more on “Make It Funky” this week and next, since I’ll be doing a little mini set on the main stage late in the proceedings. Unfortunately, I had double technology issues, first with DJ equipment, which robbed us of a guest DJ set from the ReMitch of Soul Sessions, and then my recording of the show blanked out just about at the end of the interview (which explains why it ends so abrubtly on the audio that’s here), but I just did some quick edits to bring everything back together, I think we only missed a minute or two, just the round-up and thank yous. We’re back to regular programming with a bunch of new releases next week and potentially a performance or two…Audio is up for a month, enjoy the show and make sure to spread the good word.

Melting Pot on KPFK #9: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #9: Second Hour

Playlist: 7-25-2010

{opening theme} Boris Gardiner – Melting Pot – Is What’s Happening (Dynamic)

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Harvey Mandel – Wade In The Water – Cristo Redentor (Phillips)
The Purpose – Dustcracks, Bugs & Roaches – The Purpose (ABC)
Gal Costa – Hotel Das Estrellas – Le Gal (Phillips)
Barry Goldberg – Sittin’ In Circles – Reunion (Buddah)
The Heliocentrics – Space Time Girl – 12” (Now-Again)

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The Spectrals – Don’t Mind – 7” (Slumberland)
John Barry – …And How To Get It – The Knack: Original Soundtrack (United Artists)
Eva Pilarova – Vazky – EVA (Supraphon)
Johnny Hammond – Call On Me – Gambler’s Life (Salvation)
Sergio Mendes & Brazil ’77 – Love Music – Love Music (Bell)

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3 Titans – College – 7” (Dunham)
Mandrill – Fencewalk / Hagalo – Composite Truth (Polydor)
Eddie Palmieri – Oyele Que Te Conviene – Unfinished Masterpiece (Coco)

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Joe Farrell – Upon This Rock / Seven Seas – Upon This Rock (CTI)
Interview with the organizers of Make It Funky!: Music & Arts Festival (July 31st in Downtown LA/Chinatown)

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Myron & E with the Soul Investigators – On Broadway – 7” (Timmion)
Jimmy McGriff – The Now Thing – Soul Sugar (Capitol)
Sugar Billy Garner – Super Duper Love – Super Duper Love (Fast Track)
Toni Tornado – Aposta – Toni Tornado (Odeon)
Tim Weisberg – Tyme Cube – Hurtwood Edge (A&M)

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The How – Polly – 7” (555 / Slumberland)
The Sorrows – Teenage Letter – Take A Heart (PRT)
Canned Heat – Whiskey Headed Woman No. 2 – Boogie With Canned Heat (Liberty)
Reflection Eternal feat. Mos Def & Mr. Man – Fortified Live – 12” (Rawkus)
Cactus – You Can’t Judge A Book By Its Cover – Cactus (Atco)

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{closing theme} Kenny Baker – Mississippi Waltz – Plays Bill Monroe (County)

{Congrats to Linka O. & Daen L. for winning the passes to see Sleepy Sun!}

Neo-psychedelic group Sleepy Sun will be in town performing at Spaceland here in Los Angeles on July 23rd. If you’d like to go to the show, send me an e-mail to michael[@] by 12noon on Thursday, July 22nd. Sleepy Sun is a fantastic band on record, with a wide range of sounds and textures to their music, but they put on an even better live show! Here’s some evidence on both counts…

The Winston Turner Quintet in the Jippi Jappa Room with Rhumba Queen Madam Wasp

Winston Turner – Take It Easy
Winston Turner – Love In The Cemetery
Winston Turner – It Was A Very Good Year

{Update, this one didn’t go on Ebay, so I took it up to Groove Merchant and traded it pretty much straight up for this!}

Got a few additional pictures up for this one because it’s currently on auction over at Ebay. I don’t run into too much original Jamaican vinyl these days, so when I saw this at a local record store, I just had to pick it up. From what I’ve been able to gather, Winston Turner was a trumpet player from JA, and this record was the debut release for him and his group, which also featured Roland Ashby (Piano/Organ), Boysie Williams (Bass), Joe Graham (Drums) and Tony DaCoata (Vocals) in 1967. I’m not sure if the group cut a second record, but this one is quite a rarity.

For the most part the music here is what I’d term “supper jazz,” instrumental versions of popular tunes, including in this set “It Was A Very Good Year,” “Monday, Monday,” “El Cid,” and “Don’t Make Me Over.” What separates this record from similar “recorded at Hotel lounge” albums is the sound. The record has this deep sound, which is best experienced on a very loud sound system or in really good headphones. On the tracks mentioned above when Turner’s trumpet plays, it comes through so clean you can really feel the notes.

Though Turner’s trumpet isn’t heard on it, “Take It Easy” is the best example of what I’m talking about. Everything sounds gigantic, especially those rock steady drums. As much as I like Hopeton Lewis’ version of this track, I’d put this one just slightly behind Prince Buster’s live and wild rendition with the added “have some fish & chips with a cup of tea” lyric (unfortunately, those brilliant lines are only to be had on Prince Buster’s version), just because of that great sound of the drums. The band also plays with great spirit on the two Calypso tracks here, “Obeah Wedding” and “Love In The Cemetery”.

Aside from the music, another reason this is a great collectible and rare record is the original sleeve. As you can tell from the pics below, Federal was a record label that really cared about its consumers and wanted to make sure they took proper care of both their records and turntables.

That level of attention is something that is sorely missing in our current digital times, but that is after all the reason we keep digging for original vinyl.



Orgone – Crazy Queen

Last year around this time I was heavily impressed with Orgone’s performance at the Funk Rumble Block Party in Chinatown (BTW, Funk Rumble part 2, “Make It Funky” is coming up soon July 31st! More info on that shortly). I loved the way they effortlessly shifted their funky focus, from an opening instrumental working of Peter King’s “African Dialects” to “Who Knows Who,” their own original material featuring sassy vocalist Fanny Franklin. Their new album “Cali Fever” builds off of the promise their debut “Killion Floor” hinted at as they dig deeper down the well of funkiness, with some afro-beat flavors on the title track and on “Mantanza,” to even some late 70s vibes, especially on “The Only One” and “Time Tonight” (though that track shows that someone is a fan of the Gossip’s post-punk sound on “For Keeps”…).

Several songs still feature the tough and rough funk of the debut, including “Crazy Queen,” where the boys take the rhythm to their previously released (On the Time Tonight 12″) instrumental “The Big Escape” and add Fanny’s vocals into the heavy funky mix, and instrumentals like “The Last Fool” and “The Cleaner.” All in all, a fine funky time and another reason to think that the center of the current Funk/Soul revival may be shifting from the east coast to Los Angeles.

Side Dishes #1 With Oliver Wang

This week we had the debut (right at the start of the second hour) of a new monthly feature on Melting Pot at KPFK, a set put together by Oliver Wang of Soul Sides. Oliver is an old friend from back at Berkeley, where we both went to graduate school and worked at KALX Berkeley, the freeform radio station there. He’s been a music journalist for a decade or more and runs one of the best audioblogs around in Soul Sides. Every third Sunday of the month, “Side Dishes” will feature several of Oliver’s picks, this week including several smashingly good compilations from Soundway records and Vampi Soul.  “Side Dishes” is also available as a podcast from Oliver’s website if you click here

The rest of the show features new music from Best Coast, Rakaa (of Dilated Peoples), M.I.A., Adam Franklin, The Pepper Pots, Tita Lima and more.  Next week we have the organizers of Make It Funky (Funk Rumble Block Party Pt. 2!), coming in to discuss what should be one of the summer’s best concerts, currently set for July 31st in Los Angeles’ Chinatown.  I’ll also be doing a vinyl-only show next week, which I think will probably be a tradition for the end of the month from here on out.  Audio for this show will be here for a month, so listen in and tell a friend about Melting Pot on KPFK!

Melting Pot on KPFK #8: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #8: Second Hour

Playlist: 7-18-2010
{opening theme} Booker T. & the MGs – Melting Pot – Melting Pot (Stax)

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Rastus – Sailin’ Easy – Rastus (GRT)
Menahan Street Band – The Contender – Make The Road By Walking (Dunham)
Quantic – Dub Y Guaguaganco – Dog With A Rope (Tru Thoughts)
Sahr Nagaujah & Antibalas – Upside Down – Fela! (Original Broadway Cast Recording) (Knitting Factory)
Cochemea Gastelum – Guardian Angel – The Electric Sound Of Johnny Arrow (MRI)

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The Pepper Pots – Real Tru Love – Now! (Black Pepper)
Jackie Lee – Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide – 7” (Mirwood)
Neverever – Blue Genes – Angelic Swells (Slumberland)
Tita Lima – Mundo Pequeno – Possibiliadades (Label A)
Foreign Exchange – Take Off The Blues – Leave It All Behind (Halls Of Justus)
Orgone – Mantanza – Cali Fever (Ubiquity)

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Rakaa feat. Mad Lion – Observatory – Crown Of Thorns (Decon)
Connie Price & the Keystones feat. Aloe Blacc – Tell Me Something – Tell Me Something (Ubiquity)
Saravah Soul – Alforria – Cultura Impura (Tru Thoughts)
Soul Investigators – On Broadway – 7” (Timmion)

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Side Dishes with Oliver Wang of #1:

{theme} The Nite-Liters – Down & Dirty – 7” (RCA)

The Funkees – Breakthrough – The World Ends: Afro Rock & Psychedelia in 1970s Nigeria (Soundway)
Lijadu Sisters – Life’s Gone Down Low – The World Ends: Afro Rock & Psychedelia in 1970s Nigeria (Soundway)
Cumbia Siglo XX – Nagal Pegale – Palenque Palenque: Chapeta, Criolla And Afro Roots In Colombia 1975-1991 (Soundway)
Wganda Kenya – Pim Pom – Palenque Palenque: Chapeta, Criolla And Afro Roots In Colombia 1975-1991 (Soundway)
Los Destellos – Guajira Sicodelica – Cumbia Beat: Experimental Guitar Driven Tropical Sounds From Peru 1968-1976 (Vampi-Soul)

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Best Coast – Boyfriend – Crazy For You (Mexican Summer)
The Spectrals – 7th Date – 7” (Slumberland)
Adam Franklin – Carousel City – I Could Sleep For A Thousand Years (Second Motion)
Sleepy Sun – Lord – Embrace (ATP)
Total Babe – Country – Heatwave EP (So Tm)

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M.I.A. – Tell Me Why – MAYA (N.E.E.T. / Interscope)
Pollyn – If I Chose You – This Little Night (Self-Released)
Alpha – Dim – The Impossible Thrill (Melankolic)
Francoiz Breut – 2013 – A l’aveuglette (T-Rec)

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{closing theme} Dungen – C. Visar Vagen – Tio Batar (Kemado)

Rico – Ramble
Rico – This Day
Rico – Gunga Din

This record from Jamaican trombonist Rico Rodriguez has always been a bit of an enigma to me. I’ve never been able to understand the how or why this record came to be on Blue Note. While the playing is a bit “jazzy” and Blue Note’s output around 1977 was more focused on funky fusion from Donald Byrd, Bobbi Humphrey and the like, it still seems just plain odd that there’s a roots reggae record on Blue Note. I know this record also came out on Island, but I think the Blue Note edition actually was pressed first in 1976 (my copy is a second pressing definitely from 1976, I’ve never seen an “original” or an Island pressing of this so I can’t confirm that the 1976 release date).

Additionally, for the life of me I cannot remember where I first heard “Ramble,” one of the most slyly funky reggae tracks I’ve ever run into. I think it was on a “Blue Note Breaks” collection from back in the day, but doesn’t show up on any of the tracklists for those comps. What I do remember is the first time i actually ran into this record, where else but Groove merchant in San Francisco. I knew “Ramble” was a top track, but one quick listen to the rest of the album made it a no-brainer. In addition to having some of the loveliest album cover art on a Jamaican LP, the whole record is filled with top-notch, all instrumental mid-tempo roots vibes with exceptional playing from everyone involved but especially Rico on trombone.

For those of you who don’t know Rico is (even still at 75) a legendary trombone player from JA, second only to perhaps the greatest trombonist of all time (and any nation) Don Drummond. His playing on the records from the Specials and Special A.K.A. were what led me to discover original Jamaican ska and rock steady sounds. It’s a free and easy sound (imagine Lester Young as a trombone player and you’ve got Rico), with loads of feeling and tons of soul, as you can tell on the additional tracks here “This Day” and “Gunga Din.” One day I’ll learn the full story behind this lovely record, how it came together and how it came be released on Blue Note, but for now I’m just happy to have run into it again.



Tita Lima – Só O Começo
Tita Lima – Jardim

Over the past few years several of my favorite contemporary releases have been from Brazilian artists including CeU, 3 Na Massa, Seu Jorge’s upcoming release and this new album from Tita Lima. Few musical scenes are mixing styles as seamlessly as Brazilians are these days, or to greater effect. Lima’s new album “Possibilidades” shifts and strays into a variety of musical territories, from the dub disco reggae of “Mundo Pequeno” to the bloozy funk of “Jardim”, without ever losing direction or sounding out of place.

Throughout it all there are the vocals and presence of Tita Lima, at times playful yet cautionary, as on the lone song in English, “Smile,” or damn sensual on “Ciranda” and, despite abrupt changes in tempo and tone, “Só O Começo,” easily my favorite song in this set. Lima’s voice and the musicians continually take things in unexpected places on “Possibilades,” including a reworking of the track she cut with Ocote Soul Sounds in 2009, and one of my absolute favorite songs in recent memory, “Vendendo Saude E Fé,” into a tougher, heavier, though still very funky, piece.

Perhaps these masterful musical mashups should be expected from musicians whose country has such a rich legacy, especially with the veneration of the Tropicália movement in recent years (incidentally Lima’s father actually played bass for Os Mutantes), but it is refreshing to hear artists like Tita Lima take chances with their music, mixing together their disparate influences into something that is both novel and familiar, original and classic.

As an added treat, here’s the video for one of the album’s other standout tracks, “Mundo Pequeno”:

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