Harvey Averne Band - Stand
I’ve been a big fan of Latin music for a long time. There something hypnotic about the intersecting sounds of all those different drums that are just good for the soul. As a teenage drummer, bashing away on congas, contemplating buying timbales (but never taking the plunge), I had to make due playing along with records. My first exposure to “Latin” sounds, were pretty typical for a kid in the 70’s, i.e. via Santana records. I heard some Latin jazz (mainly via my Dad’s George Shearing records, which featured Armando Peraza, who I would see backing Santana in ’79), and later on digging on Mongo Santamaria and Cal Tjader (among others). It wasn’t until I was in my 30’s that I was introduced to the sounds of boogaloo and Latin soul. The crossover sounds from the mid-to-late 60’s, where Latin bands started to mix in soul and funk sounds made for some of the most exciting records of the era. Many of these records were made by established Latin recording stars like Ricardo Ray (who’s version of ‘Nitty Gritty’ is a killer), Ray Barretto (who’s ‘Acid’ and ‘Hard Hands’ lps are classics of the genre) , Joe Cuba (‘Bang Bang’, ‘El Pito’), Mongo, Willie Bobo and Larry Harlow, who started to work a soul and rock sound in with their clave. One of the folks who got into creating these fusions with a passion was Harvey Averne. Averne (like Larry Harlow, a New York born Jewish cat* with no Latin blood to speak of) started out working under the stage name Arvito, with his own Latin dance band. Originally an accordionist, Averne was taught by Harlow to play the vibes. Working with arranger Marty Sheller (who also worked extensively with Mongo Santamaria) Harlow recorded albums for Atlantic, Fania and Heavy Duty that took the pop/Latin mix to new extremes. Averne’s recordings (under his own name, and with the Harvey Averne Barrio Band and the Harvey Averne Dozen) included a large amount of pop covers (Mamas & Papas, Beatles, Dusty Springfield, Sonny & Cher), and some smoking originals (the Atlantic 45 ‘Micro Mini’ is smoking hot). Today’s selection, ‘Stand’ from the LP ‘Brotherhood’ is not only one of Averne’s best cuts but also my fave Sly & The Family Stone cover. Opening with a drum break, and featuring Averne’s vibes prominently, the tune has a tasty horn chart. They take the tempo up a notch but manage to keep the funky vibe of the original. The arrangement by Sheller has a great rock edge to it, especially during the second half of the 45 where the vibes are up against some fuzz guitar and organ. While the feel may not be as tough as some of the Ray Barretto material from the same era, there’s enough grit to keep the dancers happy and Averne had an authentic feel for the pop and rock music of the day. Unfortunately the ‘Brotherhood’ album doesn’t seem to be in print. There are imports available of the two LPs by the Harvey Averne Dozen (‘Harvey Averne Dozen’ and ‘Viva Soul’) and the ‘Harvey Averne Barrio Band’ LP (check out Dusty Groove). *So beloved was Harlow on the Latin music scene that he was given the nickname ‘El Judio Maravilloso’ (the Marvelous Jew). Another great supporter of Latin music (and also a great NY Jew) was none other than the legendary ‘Symphony Sid’ Torin, who became enamored of Latin jazz in the 60’s and devoted much airtime (and the second half of his radio career) to the sound.