Bobbito Garcia is a legendary street ball player and New York radio DJ. He stays connected to his Puerto Rican roots through music and also puts a heavy focus on beats and fantastic female vocalists like Alice Russell and Syreeta Wright. His latest project is a documentary that explores the history, culture and social impact of New York's street ball scene, called “Doin It In The Park”.
For More: http://www.facebook.com/doinitinthepark
1. Look Around The Corner- Quantic with Alice Russell (Live on KCRW)
2. La Casita de Chema- Tato Torres y Yerba Buena
3. Azucar Pt. I and II Live
4. She's Leaving Home- Syreeta
5. Pick Up Player- Bobbito Garcia Y Su Alala
Anthony Valadez: Hi I'm Anthony Valadez (Bobbito interrupts with a shout) and this man is really excited. His energy is so positive. Puerto Rican DJ, writer, filmmaker, street ball player, announcer as you can tell, and legendary radio DJ (as you can tell) Bobbito Garcia.
Bobbito Garcia: What Up!
AV: His latest project, "Doin' It In The Park" Pick up basketball NYC is a documentary that explores the definition, history, culture and social impact of New York's playground scene. Today we're going to talk about songs that he has selected that have inspired him over the years as part of KCRW's Guest DJ Project. Bobbito, how are you?
BG: I'm honored to be here on KCRW. I've been a fan of the station since the early 90's, when I was working at Def Jam Records and Michael Mixxin Moor, rest in peace, was doing a program here on hip-hop and I used to send him records and I did 12 years on WKCR New York City, which was 89.9 FM as well, so I always felt like a little kindred fellowship with KCRW so I'm happy to be here.
AV: Let’s start with your first pick and this one was recorded right here at KCRW.
BG: Yep. The name of the artist is Quantic, the vocalist is Alice Russell, the song title is "Look Around The Corner".
When I heard it, and this is even before I knew I was coming up here as a guest, I thought there were like 30 or 40 musicians on the original recording and then I see one violinist and he's doing the back up vocals and I'm like 'wow', they made that phenomenal album with just like 6 or 7 musicians? It's one of my favorite songs of the year. I find myself singing it in the most odd times. I’m pulling clothes out of the dryer and I'm singing "look around the corner".
AV: What is it about this specific song? When you first heard it, what moved you?
BV: My first reaction to it was, it sounded like Minnie Ripperton's original group Rotary Connection in 2012. To try to replicate that ethos in this time frame is just kind of impossible and I thought they nailed it. This song has a lot of emotion behind it.
Song: Quantic and Alice Russell – “Look Around the Corner”
AV: That was Quantic with Alice Russell, the live version of "Look Around The Corner" recorded at KCRW. So what's next for us Bobbito?
BG: The next song is Tato Torres y Yerba Buena the title is “La Casita de Chema”. They're a phenomenal group based in New York. All boricua and they play essentially African root music from the island.
AV: And for our listeners who don't know, let them know which Island that is.
BG: Oh, Puerto Rico. which is interesting because a lot of people identify the music of my island with Salsa, which was formed in the 60's by the convergence of Mambo with Jazz with Rhythm and Blues. A lot of musicians at the time, tried to create this new sound, and it really wound up becoming a statement.
So, it's wonderful that when you meet the group Tato Torres y Yerba Buena, they're all like in their 20's and 30's, you know, and they're like Yankees caps set aside and you don't know what they're going to play. They're rocking rhythms that are like 200/300 years old I don't care if you don't like Latin music at all. You cannot deny that drum break when it comes in. It is so powerful and great party record.
Song: Tato Torres y Yerba Buena – “La Casita de Chema”
AV: That was Tato Torres y Yerba Buena with “La Casita de Chema”. What's next for us, man?
BG: Ah man, well next up we're going to keep it in the Latin realm. It's my man Eddie Palmieri, the song is "Azucar". This is part one and two live performed at Sing Sing, which is a prison. Eddie has always been a socially conscious brother. I had the grand pleasure of opening up for Eddie at Copenhagen, Denmark. My brother had actually taken piano lessons with Charlie Palmieri, who is Eddie's brother, at City College and my father, God Bless the dead, was a big fan of Eddie's in his time frame as a Latin Jazz musician, himself.
So, to open up for Eddie was crazy and after his set, the first record I played was this. The Harlem River Drive was Eddie's offshoot band, which incorporated sort of like Latin Funk. He was very, like on the cutting edge of that in the ‘70s, as a band leader and all, so you had The Harlem River Drive cats performing on this and you're going to hear the nice drums. It's a beautiful example of how music can blend people together and you'll get what I mean when you listen to it, enjoy.
Song: Eddie Palmieri – “Azucar Part I and II”
AV: Eddie Palmeri with "Azucar Part 1 and II” live from Sing Sing. What's next for us Bobbito?
BG: The next song is an artist names Syreeta Wright. She passed away and this song is "she's leaving home" which is originally a Beatles composition.
Song: Syreeta Wright – “She's Leaving Home”
BG: There's not a lot of music that comes out EVER that can make you cry when you listen to it. And I remember being in France and I was listening to this and just the whole concept of home and the depth of Syreeta’s voice…maybe one song a year will do that. Syreeta is up there as my favorite album that Stevie Wonder had a hand in that wasn't his own. Obviously she had an impact on his life and his career. So yeah, Syreeta Wright "She's Leaving Home".
AV: That was a selection by Bobbito Garcia, our guest here as part of KCRW's Guest DJ Project. That was Syreeta with "She's Leaving Home". What's next for us?
BG: A song titled "Park Pick-Up Player" which was inspired by the film "Doin' it in the Park". It didn't wind up making the film and the goal and vision is to now put a soundtrack out of songs from the film as well as songs inspired by the film, which this is one. Essentially, the film is as honest of a portrait as anyone will ever find about pick-up basketball and not just in New York. You can be from Ghana, you can be from South America and if you play pick-up, you'll identify with the emotion that's put forth in the film. I wanted the poem to mirror that and kind of explain the mentality of the people who go to the park and call next. This is a song definitely inspired by Gil Scott Heron, inspired by Rich Medina and inspired by all the ball players that I've ever encountered in New York.
Song: Bobbito Garcia Y Su Alala -- "Park Pick-Up Player"
AV: That was the man himself, Bobbito Garcia with “Park Pick-up Player”, a remix by Mark de Clive Lowe. Brother man Bobbito thanks so much for joining us here at KCRW.COM.
BG: Thank you, Man.
AV: For a complete track listing and to find these songs on line go to KCRW.COM/Guestdjproject and subscribe to the podcast through i-tunes.