Live Concert Photography: Bridge Grooves: Larry Harlow with Mac Gollehon and the Hispanic Mechanics and DJ Ray Suave at Brooklyn Bridge Park 7/27/16
Perhaps most famously known for producing the renowned Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival, Brooklyn Bodega is a multimedia content production and branding company, which specializes in event production, journalism, digital and grassroots marketing, radio, video and content distribution and branding, as well as BrooklynBodega.com and Bodega Pictures— all centered around celebrating and preserving hip-hop and its culture. Along with Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, they hosted two shows in what both organizations hope will be a long-running event in Brooklyn Bridge Park, a carefully curated festival that they’ve dubbed Bridge Grooves. The second and final show of this year featured two locally-based Latin funk legends, Larry Harlow and Mac Gollehon and the Hispanic Mechanics with DJ Ray Suave opening the evening.
New York-born and based Larry Harlow is arguably one of the most important and influential figures in Latin music. A graduate of the prestigious New York High School of Music (which later merged with LaGuardia High School of Music and the Arts), Harlow excelled on oboe, flute, bass and piano and although Art Tatum and bop-era jazz was his first love, his growing exposure to the music of New York’s Latino community fascinated and inspired him — and it lead to a 1957 trip to Cuba, where he began an intense two year studio of every style and genre of Afro-Cuban music before he started his lengthy musical career in earnest, a career that has included producing more than 250 albums for an incredible list of artists and being a bandleader for another 50 albums, including the 1978 Grammy-nominated album La Raza Latina, a Salsa Suite.
As a Governor of the New York chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) — the folks, who actually nominate and grant Grammys — Harlow was directly responsible for making the organization take notice of the contributions of Latin artists, helping to establish the first Latin music categories for the Grammy Awards, and eventually the Latin Grammys.
And although he turned 77 last March — interestingly enough, he shares my father’s birthday — Harlow still performs regularly with a variety of lineups feating the Latin Legends of Fania Records.
Mac Gollehon is a North Carolina-born, New York-based trumpeter, who began playing guitar in a variety of country bands, four nights a week when he turned 10. At around the same time, Gollehon’s father Joe, who was also a trumpet player, taught Mac trumpet, trombone, euphonium, French horn and tuba. When Gollehon turned 13, he played as part of a touring circus band with bandleader Merle Evans — all while listening, playing and imitating the wild variety of sounds he had been listening to at the time; in fact, at one point, he occasionally performed with the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra. After spending studying at Boston’s Berklee College of Music while playing gigs at strip joints well into the morning. Eventually he went on the road with Buddy Morrow and later with Buddy Rich and Stan Kenton before relocating to New York in 1979 to seriously pursue being a jazz musician — although ironically, Gollehon had found himself playing in a number of punk and funk bands at CBGBs and other clubs. Interestingly, at the height of disco, Gollehon began landing a ton of disco, R&B, funk and hip-hop studio gigs — including sessions with Nile Rodgers, Bernard Edwards, Kashiff, Afrika Bambaataa, Arif Mardin, Patrick Adams, Rick Derringer, Arthur Bkaker, Mike Chapman, Material, Latin Rascals, Russ Titelman and a lengthier list of others. Guaranteed that Gollehon has contributed to some of your most favorite and most played songs songs at some point or another as he’s also played o tunes by Steve Linwood, Arrow, Laurie Anderson, Power Station, Mick Jagger, Grace Jones and others; in fact, while doing research I learned that he contributed a solos on one of my most beloved albums — David Bowie‘s Let’s Dance, as well as Bowie’s and Mick Jagger‘s cover of “Dancing in the Streets” and Billy Ocean‘s “Get Out of My Dreams (Get Into My Car).” Adding to a lengthy musical career, Gollehon has toured with the likes of Duran Duran, Hall and Oates, Chaka Khan, Chic and others. His latest musical project Mac Gollehon and the Hispanic Mechanics specialize in a modern take on boogaloo — a form of boogaloo that incorporates electronica, hip-hop production, funk and others in a heady and brash mix that reminds me a little bit of Rene Lopez‘s E.L.S.
(Photo Caption: Mac Gollehon and the Hispanic Mechanics performing at Brooklyn Bridge Park earlier this summer.) Over the past 7 years, Brooklyn-based DJ Ray Suave has developed a reputation for being a spinning hip-hop, reggae, soca, house and top 40 while providing his own professional sound and lighting system.
(Photo Caption: Some incredible couples dancing during DJ Ray Suave.)