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Here’s a very special album. It is not, as the band name suggests, an all-percussion ensemble but in fact a Latin jazz/funk ensemble (although they boast five percussionists in their dozen-strong number), made all the more remarkable for the fact that it was made by teenagers in Harlem as a part of the “Harlem Youth Opportunities, Unlimited” HARYOU ACT in 1965, an attempt to inje ...

LP £18.49 CBLP002

Ltd clear yellow coloured vinyl LP on CuBop.

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Har-You Percussion Group by Har-You Percussion Group
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9/10 ReviewBot300 Staff review, 08 August 2013

Here’s a very special album. It is not, as the band name suggests, an all-percussion ensemble but in fact a Latin jazz/funk ensemble (although they boast five percussionists in their dozen-strong number), made all the more remarkable for the fact that it was made by teenagers in Harlem as a part of the “Harlem Youth Opportunities, Unlimited” HARYOU ACT in 1965, an attempt to inject some positive life training into the area’s youth following the notorious Harlem riots.

As the band’s teacher and mastermind Montego Joe relates in his liner notes, this record is remarkable both because such nuanced and accomplished music is being performed by a troupe of teenagers, but also because it’s a group of mostly Afro-Americans playing music with such Latin and Afro-Cuban roots. It’s vibrant and energetic music which throws a healthy dose of jazz and blues into the mix. There’s dense polyrhythms on congas, timbalis and bongos, there’s chanting and singing and spontaneous exclamations, there’s some wild jazz fluting and trumpeting...every song is an explosion of youthful energy, masterfully harnessed by their band leader and captured on tape for us to enjoy nearly half a century on. This record is an absolute joy.


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