Pucho & His Latin Soul Brothers | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Pucho & His Latin Soul Brothers 

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In the late 1960s, when Harlem-born timbalero Henry "Pucho" Brown and his band fired off a string of funky, Cuban-influenced jazz-rock albums for Prestige, the sounds and beats of Latin America were as pervasive as they are today. But Brown came of age musically in the 60s, when African-Americans began challenging white society to acknowledge and appreciate black culture, and his group reflected the times: even in their name, the Brothers combined their Caribbean rhythms with funk and soul, playing doo-wop as well as son and bluesy boogaloos next to wily mambos and rambunctious cha-chas. Like most music that so vividly captures its moment, though, the band's hybrid had a short life span, falling out of favor quickly in the 70s; it wouldn't resurface until the early 90s, when some intrepid sampling by British acid jazzers Galliano spurred the reissue of the Prestige discs. This rediscovery came not a moment too soon: Brown had spent most of the two intervening decades cranking out what he calls "society mambo" in the Catskills. He promptly resurrected the band, locating a handful of original members--including keyboardist John "Madhatter" Spruill and saxist Eddie Pazant, whose blaring baritone work had given the original recordings a good deal of their funk--and started recording again. The brand-new How'm I Doin'? (Cannonball) is Brown's seventh release since returning to the land of the living; the Brothers shine on traditional Cuban tunes and jazzy originals, sounding even tighter and better schooled than the incarnation on his late-60s albums. And on material like the title track--penned by Fred Wesley, James Brown's favorite trombonist and a guest on the album--and the O'Jays' "For the Love of Money," Brown still radiates the loosey-goosey, party-animal charm that sent him over the top 35 years ago. Tuesday through Thursday, 8 and 10 PM, next Friday and Saturday, July 21 and 22, 9 and 11 PM, and next Sunday, July 23, 4, 8, and 10 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand; 312-670-2473. NEIL TESSER

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo by Jeff Bender.

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