Our Latin Thing is a 1972 movie featuring the legendary Salsa band Fania All Stars. The project, which started as an experiment aimed at creating a documentary about the band, ended up as one of the most important movies in the history of Latin music.
To put it in simple words, Nuestra Cosa Latina, as the movie was known in Spanish, became the Woodstock of Salsa music. In fact, the movie goes far beyond music. It presents Latin culture in the way it moved around the streets of New York. The following is an overview of Our Latin Thing.
Our Latin Thing was directed by Leon Gast. In fact, this movie was just the beginning of Gast's successful career producing documentaries. The production was cheap and the budget did not go over the US$100,000. Because of this, the quality of the original movie was not the best.
However, Our Latin Thing has just been remastered into an HD format that enhances the experience of the whole movie. Although the Fania record changed the history of Salsa music, it was always a victim of internal conflicts between his founder Jerry Masucci and the artists who belonged to the label. Many of the original productions got lost including Our Latin Thing. Just recently, an original copy of the film was found on eBay and thanks to this discovery the movie has been released in the a format just in time for the 40th anniversary of it.
The Cheetah Concert
Although Our Latin Thing was released in 1972, the movie is mostly based on a famous concert the Fania All Stars gave at the Cheetah club in New York City back in 1971. That concert ended up to be a night of full jamming where every single member of the band was able to shine. In fact, the performance at the Cheetah was unique because the music the band played that night was hardly rehearsed before the show.
In the movie, you can see and hear the band playing at the Cheetah memorable songs like "Anacaona," featuring Cheo Feliciano, and "Ponte Duro," which includes an amazing solo by Roberto Roena. However, there are two songs that marked the Cheetah night: "Descarga Fania" and "Quitate Tu." While the former is a pure jamming sessions featuring amazing percussion and brass sections, the latter brings into stage the amazing voices of some of the best Salsa singers in history including Pete 'El Conde' Rodriguez, Cheo Feliciano, Hector Lavoe, and Ismael Miranda, among others.
Later on, the Cheetah concert was divided into two albums with the name "Live at the Cheetah," a music production that turned to be an amazing hit among Salsa fans.
Music in The Barrio
Our Latin Thing is filled with some of the most legendary hits in Salsa music. Besides the music at the Cheetah, the movie includes street shows on Manhattan's Lower East Side featuring outstanding performances by artists like Ismael Miranda and Johnny Pacheco.
In particular, the songs "Abran Paso" featuring Ismael Miranda in the vocals and Larry Harlow in the piano, and "Lamento De Un Guajiro," which includes an amazing flute solo by Johnny Pacheco, are among the best scenes featured in this documentary.
Latin Culture Exposed
Nuestra Cosa Latina exposed to the world the faces of Latin communities in the US. Through dancing, domino playing, cooking, cockfights, and even Santeria, the movie presents part of the traditions that have been part of the Latin culture for centuries.
Whether you are a Latin music fan or just getting into it, Our Latin Thing is a movie I highly recommend to you. The energy, the music, and the authentic Latin flavor it has transformed this movie into an essential document in the making of Salsa and Latin music as a whole.