Subway Salsa

Back in the ’70s, the most remarkable record shop for Latin music in New York City was literally underground: Record Mart, in the mezzanine level of the Times Square subway complex. It was operated by Jesse Moskowitz, arguably the most important Jewish dude in NYC salsa after Larry Harlow. The shop closed in 1999, but reopened in 2007 about 50 feet down from it’s original location. Jesse was still there the last time I checked.

He also ran a small but important label, Montuno, which operated out of the back of the shop. It’s the subject of this hot, beautifully-documented collection on Spain’s excellent Vampisoul label, out this week. Sample it by clicking on the speaker icon here at Descarga, a very cool e-shop which also seems to have the best price on it. Or stop by Record Mart the next time you’re in Times Square.

As the set shows, NYC’s Afro-Caribbean mix was informed by more than just Puerto Rican, Cuban and Dominican salsa sounds. One of the hottest tracks is “Ensem’…Ensem’…” by the local Haitian compa crew Scorpio, below. Check the sick electric keyboard squeals (or is that Robert Martino’s guitar?) around 01:05. Makes me wonder if the Grandmaster Flash + Furious Five crusher “Scorpio” was a nod towards these guys.

Bjork @ The New York Hall of Science

Bjork will be playing another concert at the New York Hall of Science–located on the old World’s Fair grounds in Corona, Queens– this Sunday, after cancelling yesterday’s show due to “health issues,” according to The New York Times. The final shows of the run will be 2/15 and 2/18.

Read my NPR review of last Friday’s remarkable concert here.

Below are some of the instruments Bjork employed for the show. In order: a four-unit iPad array, gravity harps, Tesla coils, remotely-triggered pipe organs, the Reactable, the Graduale Nobili choir (w/ DNA projections), and the Queen Bee. And finally, the 2/3/12 setlist.

Luc Sante on Patti Smith

Sante is one of our greatest cultural critics and historians, especially with regard to New York City. (See his essential Low Life, for starters.)

If there’s a sharper and more succinct piece on the life and art of Patti Smith than his recent essay in The New York Review Of Books, I haven’t read it. You can read it here.

Philip Glass turns 75

This week’s Village Voice features a cover story about Philip Glass, who is celebrating his 75th birthday year with all sorts of performances around the world – which is to say, pretty much what the tireless East Village composer is always doing, birthdays or not.

Read the story here.