Published Jan 01, 2006To quote the Spanish Harlem Orchestra, it's "a great day in el barrio" now that Mr. New York, Joe Bataan, is back with a new album entitled Call My Name on Vampisoul Records. The prime mover of Latin soul, co-founder of Salsoul Records, and a pioneer of rap en Español, Bataan last released an album in the early '80s. But he's been performing much more in the last decade, and his influence has spread accordingly. "For a long time I was known in New York for Latin soul; in California it was an oldies thing with the Chicanos; in Japan it was The Bottle' [his version of the Gil Scott Heron tune]. Now it's all starting to come together with this album."
Recorded at the funky Dap-Tone studios in Brooklyn, Call My Name has a vintage '70s feel, but sports an amazingly fresh sound anchored by Bataan's inimitably soulful, off-key vocals. Call My Name is essentially the vision of Daniel Collas (Trans Love Airways) who understands the musical environment that Bataan came from, and has drawn from many phases of Bataan's varied career without copying any one sound. The meeting came about by accident.
"I was playing at SOB's in New York, and he asked me to sing on his album. Normally I do the music for my own band, but I thought, Why not take a chance?' I knew that Vampisoul was reissuing a lot of my product from the [legendary New York salsa label] Fania catalogue, and the next thing I knew we had a deal."
After 40 years in music, Bataan is grateful for Collas's efforts. "You gotta understand what it means to a guy like me, it was so gratifying that someone would appreciate something you've done. In my latter years, it makes me feel good that the full spectrum of my music is finally being heard."