Dance to the World Beat

I would never claim to be a beat-matcher with a big Traktor controller rig. Rather, I'm an old-school selector, deeply ensconced in old school vinyl, rare CDs, and classic 12" sides. But I am also always on the lookout for new stuff, and that includes dance sides.

So what is a selector or, colloquially, a 'selecta'? It's a reggae dancehall term referring to the person who selects the vinyl sides and passes them to the DJ. Back in the days of analog, before sophisticated DJ gear became standard with Electronic Dance Music (EDM), the selector curated the music. It's only been recently, if you think about it, that digital music and the ability to cue up EDM tracks in one's laptop has come to redefine the dance music genre.

But there's a whole lot to be said for the world of dance music outside of just EDM, so this week on Rhythm Planet, I bring you some of my favorite dance tracks that I've spun on air, in clubs, and at various events around town. Some of this stuff goes all the way back to the 1980s, and I've also pulled a bunch of new dance beats for you guys.

With the Los Angeles Cumbia Festival coming up this weekend, I thought I'd start our show with a contemporary cumbia number called "Trocitos de Madera" (meaning 'bits or pieces) by the Argentine group, La Yegros. We then take a trip down memory lane with a mid-1980s track from the group, B-Side, featuring two French musicians and an American singer named Ann Marie Boyl. The shouting you'll hear in the background is by Roger Trilling, who was part of the Celluloid Records label team, a label that was far ahead of its time, maybe too far ahead.

After that, some of Guru's acid jazz from his first Jazzmatazz album, followed by a sweet Congolese rumba by the late, great singer, Madilu System. We then have the German 12" "Hello Afrika" by hip hop artist, Dr. Alban, accompanied with beats by a Swedish guy named Sweemix. Next, a bit of Jamaican dancehall stylee, with Cutty Ranks singing his big hit, "The Stoppa." I round off that set with a great track by Bill Laswell's band, Material, featuring Shabba Ranks (no relation to Cutty—'Ranks' is a popular reggae surname).

I had to include a couple of tropical tracks, in this case, mambos by Cuban singer Beny Moré, and a Tito Puente song featuring Santos Colon, whom many consider to have been Tito's best singer ever. Gerardo Frisina, of the Schema Records artist stable based in Turin, Italy, has established himself as foremost interpreter of the Latin-influenced jazz club sound. Case in point, "Cubana" with its sweet vibe.

Last but not least, we'll end with D.C.-style Go-Go music from Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers with their timeless "Bustin' Loose." Go-Go, which was part-funk with elements of R&B, hip hop, and blues mixed in may have been short-lived back in the 1980s, but I can tell you it still gets those booties shakin'.

We've got the Ghazal show coming up next week, but going through my personal music library for these goodies, I found so many fun tracks that a "Dance to the World Beat," Part II is in order. We'll revisit these global beats in two weeks time, when yours truly, Selecta Schnabel, will feature music from music from Bob MarleyKwaanza PosseMichael FrantiRay BryantDe la SoulA Tribe Called QuestZero db, some Saharan desert groove from Terakaft, and more new sides so stay tuned!!!





Tom Schnabel