"Our Latin Thing" (Nuestra Cosa)

Strut Records, in association with Fania, are proud to announce the 40th Anniversary Edition of the landmark feature film that captured New York’s legendary early ‘70s Latin music scene at its zenith, "Our Latin Thing (Nuestra Cosa)".

Filmed around a live all-star concert by the Fania All-Stars at one of promoter Ralph Mercado’s fantastically popular Thursday night jams at the Cheetah, the film transports the viewer right back to a heady night on August 26, 1971.

At the time, there had been little documentation of the burgeoning salsa scene in New York, despite its massive popularity. Video was still crude and film was expensive to shoot. However, Fania founder Jerry Masucci had a vision of taking New York Latin music from the barrio to the world, and put the money up to make the movie.

The result is pure dynamite. The salsa of the early ‘70s had it all - Africa, the Caribbean, the Spanish language, the technical skills of jazz, the kinetic push and pull of great dance music, brilliant improvisations by both singers and drummers, and, most importantly, a community right behind it – mostly, but not entirely, Puerto Rican.

The stars of the movie were already international celebrities at the time of the concert, and they subsequently became even more famous. Our Latin Thing captures them at the height of their powers. We see Johnny Pacheco, Fania boss and ringleader, conga master Ray Barretto, Ismael Miranda, Larry Harlow, vocal legends Hector Lavoe and Cheo Feliciano. And we experience them up-close and raw, flashing back and forth from the club to the streets, venturing out into the barrio. It is simply one of the greatest visions of New York City ever put to film, offering a panoramic look at a part of town beyond the bright lights of Manhattan. The cameras visit a rumba in a vacant lot, a singing front-stoop cajonero (box drummer), a domino game, a cockfight in an illicit ring, a santería ceremony, and a free show in the street by Larry Harlow with Ismael Miranda. Today these scenes, which help pace the intensity of the on-stage music, are time-capsule jewels that open a window onto the unfiltered street culture of Latin music in New York.

The technical quality of the film is excellent. Director Leon Gast (‘When We Were Kings’) hung 278 colour-gelled lights in the club and brought in his own electricity. The music was shot live, in colour, with five separate cameras, providing a rare multiple perspective for the era. In all, the film contains 1,985 edits – a modern editing tempo, years ahead of its time. With a remote truck parked outside the club, the music was recorded live to 16-track 2-inch, the highest-quality analog format available.

A great documentary film in its own right and an essential snapshot of New York City in a bygone era, Our Latin Thing is a must for any music lover’s library.

OUR LATIN THING (Nuestra Cosa) will be released as a 3-disc set: the film DVD, packaged together with Live at the Cheetah, Vols. 1 and 2 featuring the music from the film across two CDs, including previously unreleased bonus tracks.