Los Hacheros, modern-day torchbearers of the Golden Age of Latin music, recorded their second album Bambulaye (February 26 / Chulo / Daptone Records) live to an old tape machine, following dates throughout New York City at Lincoln Center, P.S. 1 MOMA, quincaneras and strip clubs in the Bronx. (Their debut Pilon was released on Daptone in 2012).
"Bambulaye is gritty and demanding and you better be willing to dance…" says producer / guitarist Jacob Plasse, also founder of the Daptone-distributed Latin revival label, Chulo Records. "I wanted this record to feel and sound the way it does when we play our final sets at 3am, exhausted in East Harlem dives. Suddenly the band comes to life and all the old dancers are at it like it was 1970 again. In those moments, we feel like we could play all night."
Los Hacheros revives folkloric styles like son montuno, guaracha and salsa, and often combine them with bomba, a fiery rhythm from the mountains of Puerto Rico. "Los Hacheros has the magic of group improvisation…" adds bassist William Ash. "We play in a style that is swing oriented and emphasizes the Cuban clave like great ones of old: Arsenio, Reve, Ritmo…"
A band of only 6 musicians, Los Hacheros can sound like a conjunto of 12. Eddie Venegas (Marc Anthony, Orquestra Broadway), who plays violin and sings chorus, improvises mambos on the trombone, Itai Kriss (Edmar Castaneda, Grupo Latin Vibe) sings, plays flute, campana, and guiro, while Papote Jimenez is in charge of lead vocals, soulful soneos (improvised verses) and congas. William Ash (Alfredo de la Fe, Brenda K Starr) holds down the tumbaos on baby bass while Jacob Plasse plays the tres, a guitar-like instrument originating from the Oriente Province in Cuba.
"There are a million tiny cues on Bambulaye that let you know it is a live band…" describes Plasse. "It feels like it could both fall apart and explode at any moment."