Review Hammock House Africa Caribe — Remixed by Joaquin “Joe” Claussell


The latest musical gem from legendary producer Joaquin “Joe” Claussell is the delicious double CD, Hammock House Africa Caribe – released on May 17 (May 30 in the UK) by the infamous Fania Records.

Hammock House Africa Caribe tantalises us with a soulful blend of African and Latin grooves. The first CD includes an epic thirty songs that effortlessly interweave into each other. Presented on the CD are Claussell’s reworking of the music of various infamous figures such as Ray Barretto, Mental Remedy, Celia Cruz, Lou Perez, Eddie Palmieri, Jaidene “Jai” Veda, Mongo Santamaria, Willie Colon, Ruben Blades, and Ismael Miranda. The diversity of tracks distinctly reflect Claussell’s upbringing as a Puerta Rican in NYC or more precisely a “nuyorican” – so much so that his mixes seems to be over-shadowed by Latin rhythmic flavour.

What is particularly exciting in Hammock House Africa Caribe is Claussell’s spell-binding blending of old and new. The old being his formidable use of 70s recording tapes that arrived at his NYC studio one morning. As the DJ himself explains, “When the carrier came to my place with all these boxes, I had an Indiana Jones moment, like when he opens the treasure chest and the glow of gold light shines up on his face.” The new sound being his infamous history as New York’s leading DJ of the soulful house scene. Responsible for some of the best deep and soulful house NYC has heard, Claussell’s Sunday night Body & Soul DJ gig is one of the most legendary house parties of the 90s. Former owner of the landmark record store Dance Tracks, and long associated with the house labels Spiritual Life and Ibadan, they all reflect his deep love for and his eclectic and multicultural taste in dance music. Much of the global dance movement can be traced back to Claussell’s highly percussive style that incorporates Latin, African, Brazilian and other world rhythms with elements of jazz, rock, disco, and live instrumentation.

The first CD also displays Joe Claussell’s approach to the music, creating an epic journey from Africa and across the Atlantic to New York. As the DJ quotes, “I wanted to mix it live so you get more of a human feel from it, to stay true to the texture of this music. And I really wanted it to reflect on the process of working on this whole project”. Moving from the opening track “African Fantasy” – with its jungle-inspired sounds, melismatic flute (taken from the original multi-track) and jazzy-Latin piano solos to the final song, “Me Voy Ahora”, reflect Claussell’s sheer genius in recreating a fresh new sound, whilst retaining the original features of the 70s archive material.

The second disc features nine classic Fania tunes from Lou Perez, Celia Cruz, Eddie Palmieri, Ray Barretto and more – all re-worked with the Joe Claussell touch. The deluxe CD set also comes with detailed album notes where each track is described in detail by Claussell himself that display his distinct passion for his musical treasures. Yet again, this is another musical mirth that never becomes tiresome on the ears. In fact, it’s sheer level of production as well as complex and carefully considered use of styles and sounds gets even better the more you open your ears to Claussell’s legendary skills.

Artist: Various Artists
Album: Hammock House Africa Caribe Produced + Mixed by Joaquin “Joe” Claussell
Label: Fania Records
Release: 17th May 2011

You can buy Hammock House Africa Caribe from Amazon and iTunes.

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