As we all know that there has been a proliferation of independent labels of all sizes across the world; in fact, I’d bet that you’d likely know someone who has started a label or is planning to start a label. But honestly, one of the great things about this proliferation of indie labels is the fact that many of these labels are willing to take risks that the major, conglomerate labels wouldn’t – i.e., attempt to reintroduce sadly forgotten yet hugely influential artists; artists whose work was so wildly ahead of its time that audiences wouldn’t have known what to make of it – and yet would have been influential if someone championed it; as well, as regional and cult favored artists, whose work should have been bigger. And they do so through the reissuing of singles and albums that had seemingly disappeared.
So in true JOVM fashion, we’re going back – back real old school. Miami, FL-based disco act Pazazz could trace their origins back to 1974 when founding members Tony Castellanos and Tim Boynton formed a band that they then dubbed Zanzibar. Inspired by Bill Withers and Steely Dan, the group played a number of club shows, private parties and a number of beach hotel gigs at renowned Miami hotels including The Fontainebleau, the Eden Rock and The Marco Polo Hotel. By the late 70s, Castellanos changed the name of the band to Pazazz and wrote the band’s first single “So Hard To Find”/”The Right One.” The single was recorded and readied for release – complete with a silver Pizazz label and a picture sleeve. As the story goes, it wasn’t until Castellanos received 500 copies of the single that he realized that the record was flawed. He demanded a second pressing, which was issued with a red Pazazz label – but in Castellanos’ opinion, the second pressing was flawed, too. And as a result, the band decided against any sort of official release, opting to give away copies of both versions of the single to fans at gigs.
The band split up in 1981 and the single was largely forgotten – that is until Los Angeles-based record collector Mike Vegh found a copy. Impressed by Pazazz’s sound, Vegh tracked down Castellanos and brokered a purchase of Castellanos remaining copies of the single – and Vegh eventually put Castellanos in touch with Rapcats, who will be reissuing “So Hard To Find”/”The Right One” both on 12″ vinyl and digitally. What makes the 12 inch reissue interesting is that it contained remixes by Kenny Dope, and Dope’s remixes pulled the funkiest parts of each track out to the foreground, making them increasingly DJ friendly – and for some collectors the remixes are the preferred way to listen to these particular tracks.
Personally what I love about the Kenny Dope remix of “So Hard To Find” is the fact that Dope’s remix sounds as though it could easily have been used as the break beats at one of earliest hip-hop DJ parties, while subtly channeling Mandrill, the Soul Train theme song, and countless others. Although I wasn’t born until 1979, I grew up listening to a lot of disco records and listening to this one, brings back memories of my mother cleaning to Donna Summer – but perhaps more important. it’s a song that should make you get up and do the hustle (if you know how) or do a little two step. It’s an effortlessly soulful funky track propelled by a great horn line and Latin percussion.