Vibraphonist Cal Tjader was one of the first American jazz musicians to embrace Latin music
He played with notable percussionists Armando Peraza, Willie Bobo, and Mongo Santamaria early in his development. He covered Dizzy Gillespie and Chano Pozo’s famed “Guarachi Guaro” in 1955 and made it his own in 1965 as “Soul Sauce.” Throughout his career, Cal Tjader would coat that salsa on everything he played.  
Cal Tjader. Photo by Chuck Stewart.
Latino hip-hop pioneer DJ Disco Wiz spins a hard-knock yarn
DJ Disco Wiz, hip-hop’s first Latino DJ, left a permanent mark on the music and culture after teaming up with Grandmaster Caz in 1974.
DJ Disco Wiz and Solie, 42nd St., 1984
Jazz keyboardist and arranger Bob James talks about his first three albums on CTI
The Bob James albums One, Two, and Three contributed to the sonic foundation of hip-hop.
Bob James One
João Donato steered Brazilian music in new directions
Lacking a name for his style of music, Donato’s is a distinct sound, immediately recognizable from the first few bars of any of his tunes.
Joao Donato e Gal Costa
Bobby Womack is a thread that runs through soul music
Perhaps more than any other artist of his era, he connects the major players in a six-degrees-of-separation game that keeps going until it seems that Womack must have known and played with everyone.
Bobby Womack
Hi Records producer Willie Mitchell set the tone for polished Memphis soul
With his soulful strings and the crack rhythm section of Howard Grimes and the Hodges Bros.—Teenie, Charles, and Leroy—Willie Mitchell made stars out of O. V. Wright, Ann Peebles, Syl Johnson, and Al Green, giving neighboring Stax Records a run for its money.
Willie Mitchell at Hi Records
From their humble lo-fi start, Nite Jewel is crystallizing its analog-synth sound
"There is a sense in Nite Jewel’s music that has to do with nostalgia for a time that is a fantasy rather than a time you’re actually from, and the time that’s a fantasy to me is right before I came into existence."
Cole Marsden Greif-Neill and Ramona Gonzalez of Nite Jewel. Photo by Grace Oh.
Kool G Rap talks about Marley Marl and the Juice Crew, crime raps, and his extensive catalog
" I mentioned John Gotti because it was the topic of the times. Any part of the violence that I wrote about were things I saw, even if I didn’t directly participate in all of it."
Epic Records/Cold Chillin' promotional photo for 4, 5, 6 (1995) by Sue Kwon
Brazilian bassist and producer Liminha worked with Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, and Os Mutantes
"Old Brazilian music and bossa nova was fantastic, but people used to make lists of things that were forbidden, including having electric guitars on song festivals."
Liminha. Photo by Mario Luiz Thompson/Arquivo.
Behind the “scene” with Daptone Records founder Gabe Roth
"It’s a bit of a myth that the sky is falling on the music industry. I mean, with the Internet, it’s kind of the best time ever for independent artists and independent labels. The artists weren’t making money off record sales anyway."
Gabriel Roth at the piano. Photo by Jacob Blickenstaff
Musician Colin Wolfe built beats with Dr. Dre for The Chronic, NWA’s Niggaz4Life, and Jimmy Z’s Muzical Madness
Dr. Dre changed the game at least three times: N.W.A, Death Row Records, and Eminem. But if Death Row was the Motown of the ’90s, Colin Wolfe was G-Funk Brother #1.
Colin Wolfe Dr. Dre
Vallejo rapper Mac Dre pioneered the hyphy movement
After a controversial five-year stint in prison, Vallejo rapper Mac Dre emerged anew, pioneering the hyphy movement and signing countless rappers to his label. Even after his early, tragic death in 2004, Mac Dre’s legacy and influence endure in the Bay and beyond.
Mac Dre, baby
Prince tapped “godfather of the music video” Chuck Statler to helm the ill-fated film The Second Coming
Produced during the final leg of 1982’s Controversy tour, the feature was conceptualized as a documentary concert film meets glam-funk fantasy, filtered through Prince’s unique paisley-and-lace perspective.
Courtesy of Chuck Statler
Wu-Tang Clan’s GZA runs down every track off Liquid Swords
"RZA's beats had a grimey, rock-like feel to them. The majority of the album was done at RZA's house, in the basement."
GZA / Genius "Liquid Swords"
John Oates discusses 1980’s Voices by Hall and Oates
As the 1980s began, Hall & Oates, assumed creative control over their music resulting in another triumph for the songwriting duo when Voices was released in 1980.
Ned Doheny went from the folky Laurel Canyon singer-songwriter scene to R&B heights
After an album on Asylum failed to make waves, Ned Doheny wrote a couple songs with Average White Band’s Hamish Stuart that would find great success in the R&B world. Teaming with Steve Cropper, Doheny embraced this new funky direction and recorded two albums that made him a star in England and Japan.
Photo by Henry Diltz
Sly Stone’s dark soul opus There’s a Riot Goin’ On and J. J. Cale’s debut album, Naturally, are linked by the nascent drum machine
Though they’re different, and attracted different audiences, it’s not hard to imagine these records meeting up on the jukebox in some dark roadside stop.
D’Angelo and the organic sweet soul of his debut, Brown Sugar, shook up modern R&B
“I wanted it to sound raw, not real polished. Soul music is not limited, because there’s so much blues and gospel in it. I tried to stay true to that.”
D'Angelo - Wax Poetics Issue 42
Sam Greenlee’s debut novel, The Spook Who Sat by the Door, drew up the blueprint for Black nationalization
Former propaganda officer wrote a novel serving as an insurrectionist blueprint for uprooting oppressive governments from the inside out.
"The Spook Who Sat by the Door" film still
Jazzie B. and Caron Wheeler of Soul II Soul discuss 1989’s Club Classics Vol. One (Keep On Movin’ )
"Technically, Soul II Soul is a sound system rather than a band per se, which is why we have a rotating lineup of different singers. "
Soul II Soul - Club Classics Vol. One / Keep On Movin'
New York’s golden era had hip-hop luminaries digging in the crates at the legendary Roosevelt Hotel Record Convention
Record dealer John Carraro reflects on introducing old music to the likes of Pete Rock, Q-Tip, Busta Rhymes, Large Professor, Buckwild, Diamond D, Prince Be, Mr. Walt, and DJ Clark Kent, among others.
Pete Rock and Buckwild at the Roosevelt Hotel Record Convention
Cultural Roots could have been the biggest reggae vocal trio of all time
But dancehall took over and most of the trio’s members vanished from the music scene. Fifteen years later, we tracked down its only original member still traceable, or alive.
Cultural Roots, in London
Queens rapper Action Bronson burst onto the scene with a penchant for words and the culinary arts
In just three years, this former chef has blazed a trail with vividly humorous rap tales and a larger-than-life personality that brings new-school flavor to classic New York hip-hop
Action Bronson by Tom Gould
DeBarge In A Special Way