Thursday, March 08, 2007

Que alalva el boogie

93.1 Amor... K-LOVE 107.5 FM... WOJO 105.1 "Radio Le Que Buena."
Radio stations that feature Spanish-language contemporary music are among the ratings leaders in America's biggest markets.
Each of the hit songs these stations play shares a common ancestor, a song I have been enjoying the past two days.
"Pachuco Boogie" is not just the lead track in an Arhoolie Records compilation of the same name.
Bassist Don Tosti (look for more on this musical genius in later editions of ROUTE 1) showed up for a Los Angeles recording session in 1948. Popular balladeer Ruben Reyes failed to show, so record label owner William Castillo asked Tosti and his band if they had anything they wanted to put on wax.
These jazz musicians worked up a jump blues -- an early form of R&B -- that incorporated Mexican traditional music and spoken-word elements featuring calo -- a barrio dialect passed down from Spanish gypsies to lower-status Mexicans. Drummer Raul Diaz sang about Pachucos -- the zoot-suit wearing Chicano youth who had created a vibrant subculture of music and dance (and violence; see this Wikipedia entry here).
The result? Almost assuredly the first Chicano R&B record and without doubt a cultural phenomenon and Hispanic anthem: By most accounts, "Pachuco Boogie" became the first Mexican-American recording to sell more than a million copies. Authorities accepted the song into the Smithsonian Institute archives in 1985.
I have been enjoying "Pachuco Boogie" for days: "Que alalva el boogie -- get in the groove with the boogie."


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