In his second and arguably most ambitious book to date, Grammy-nominated musician, professor, and author Benjamin Lapidus lays out a compelling case for New York-based musicians shaping the sound of international music.
“The book started as an idea in 2010, and the research began in 2012,” says Lapidus. It’s easy to feel alone and even futile when tackling such a large subject but the encouragement and interest from musicians and collectors who shared their time with me made me feel like it was a worthwhile endeavor.”
New York and the International Sound of Latin Music is a comprehensive assessment of New York as the capital of Latin music from 1940 to 1990. Based on extensive interviews and insightful musical analysis, Lapidus explores a swath of interesting and enlightening topics, including Latin Music Education in New York, Latin Music Instrument Makers in New York, Afro-Cuban Jazz, and Latin Jazz pianist Sonny Bravo, Tipica ’73 and the New York Sound, Jews and Latin music in New York and the impact of the Cuban “Marielito’s” in the 80s.
Chapter 3, titled “This Guy Does Not Look Latin: The Panamanian Connection,” shines a light on the unique Brooklyn-based Panamanian community in New York and their contributions to Latin music. Lapidus also explains how Panamanian musicians felt solidarity with Cuban, Puerto Rican, West-Indian, and African-American musicians whose cultures were similar yet distinct. Though it is not well-known, many Panamanian artists were innovators. Moreover, they performed with Machito and his Afro-Cubans, Tito Rodriguez, and Tito Puente, among others.
Chapter 5, titled “Puerto Rican Engagement with Jazz and its Effects on Latin Music, explains how “Puerto Rican and Nuyorican artists in New York City used jazz harmony, arranging, improvisation, and musical aesthetics to broaden the sound of Latin popular music from the postwar period to the 1990s and beyond. Also, Lapidus debunks some of the false and misleading narratives that depict Puerto Rican artists as “adopters, copiers, or appropriators of Cuban music” and calls out historians, authors, and researchers who neglected musical advances and innovations in Latin music made by Puerto Ricans.
New York and the International Sound of Latin Music is obligatory reading, particularly regarding the history and development of Latin music in New York City. Only an artist in the trenches, musically and intellectually, could have written a book as insightful and timely. Highly recommended!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Benjamin Lapidus is a Grammy-nominated musician and professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY, and The Graduate Center. As a scholar, he has published widely on Latin music. He has performed and recorded worldwide as a bandleader and supporting musician.
Benjamin Lapidus is a Grammy-nominated musician and professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY, and The Graduate Center. As a scholar, he has published widely on Latin music. He has performed and recorded throughout the world as a bandleader and supporting musician.
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