A report by Justino Aguila for Billboard.
Afro-Cuban and Caribbean music sets the foundation for the new Fania Records offering as part of the Hammock House series, this time introducing the Santiago Sessions produced by DJ Jose Marquez.
The new EP remixes six classic songs from the Fania catalog and features legends such Hector Lavoe, Ray Barreto, Tito Puente and Celia Cruz, among others. The inspiration for the new album was the Manana Festival in Santiago de Cuba a couple of years ago.
“This is music that I grew up with as a kid in Los Angeles,” Marquez said. “It was a very intimidating project to take on, but it was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I could not pass up.”
Marquez worked with a dream team including musicians Bobby Wilmore and Lazaro Galarraga, Afro-Cuban specialists, who performed the congas and bata drums on the track “Aguanile.” The song was released on the album El Juicio in 1972 and performed by Willie Colon and Lavoe.
The label recently announced the new DJ initiative Fania Collective, which includes the participation of DJs and producers who serve as brand ambassadors. The collective highlights artistic collaborations and features new remixes through a mixtape series in addition to live performances through the pop-up DJ series Armada Fania. In addition to Marquez, the first group for the Fania Collective features Latin soul & boogaloo expert DJ Turmix, and Texas nu-cumbia powerhouse El Dusty.
Known for his remixes of music from recording artists such as Cruz, Nina Simone and Oumou Sangare, among others, Marquez has worked with various labels, which made him a natural choice for Santiago Sessions, which meant he was given the opportunity to access some very special recordings.
“I never could have imagined that one day I would be handed over the original files from studio sessions recorded by Fania legends,” Marquez said. “I hope you enjoy my reinterpretations of this timeless music for today’s dance floors.”
Fania introduced the Hammock House series in 2011 with Africa Caribe, which was produced by Joe Claussell and each project from that point on has included noted producers such as Louie Vega, Toy Selectah and The Whiskey Barons.