Subway Salsa

On February 15, 2012 by Will Hermes

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.

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