Lost Fania Latin Classics Being Remixed for a New Audience

The original recordings of classics were found gathering dust in a warehouse.

April 29, 2016, 7:34 AM

— -- Lost for decades, the original session tapes for classic Fania Records artists like Hector Lavoe, Celia Cruz and Willie Colon were recently discovered gathering dust on a shelf in a warehouse in rural New York.

The legendary Latin music label has now partnered with a collective of DJs and artists known as Calentura in order to remix these multi-track recordings for a new generation.

“Some of these recordings had never been heard since the day they were recorded back in 1974,” Canyon Cody, vice president of A&R at Fania Records and a co-founder of Calentura, told ABC News.

The album “Calentura: Global Bassment," executive produced by Canyon Cody, features futuristic bass-heavy production from 14 DJs and electronic producers, including 2015 Grammy and Latin Grammy nominee Bomba Estereo, along with Jillionaire (one-third of global sensation Major Lazer with Diplo), Brazilian trap duo Tropkillaz, and more.

“Adding elements of electronic music is opening up a new generation to Fania’s history,” said Cody.

Fania Records

Widely regarded as the “Latin Motown,” Fania sparked a musical revolution in the 1960s and '70s with an infectious fusion of tropical rhythms and American funk, jazz and disco. The Fania All-Stars were the first Latin artists to sell out Yankee Stadium, and they shared the stage with James Brown at the infamous concert preceding the "Rumble in the Jungle" boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman.

Calentura began as a collaboration between Los Angeles-based DJ and artist crews Subsuelo and Late Night Laggers, who throw a monthly dance party in LA presented by Jack Daniel's. Celebrities like Justin Bieber have been known to pop in to check it out. At the start, Calentura DJs were playing illegal bootleg remixes of Fania artists when Michael Rucker, chief marketing officer at Fania, reached out to establish an official partnership.

'Calentura: Global Bassment'

The album was released March 11 at a raucous party at the El Ray Theatre in Los Angeles, featuring DJs, dancers and live musicians. It was typical of the sorts of high-energy parties Calentura is known for around LA.

In what can be a segmented social music scene, they attract people from all backgrounds. “Our mission was to curate events that were accessible to anyone,” Gabe Madera, a co-founder of Calentura, said to ABC News. “You don’t have to be from a certain scene or a certain nationality.”

Making a Remix

The discovery of these lost recordings is a boon to music producers as it allows them to use these classic songs in ways that were not possible until now.

“When these songs were originally recorded, they were recorded on separate ‘tracks’. The acapella, the drums, the base -- all separated,” said Cody. “What we had the opportunity to do with Calentura is get access to the original multi-track recordings. This means we could take the whole song, but instead of having the drums and bass happening at the same time, we were able to isolate the vocal track and add new drums and sounds over it.”

You can download “Calentura: Global Bassment” for free here.

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