Joe Bataan has always been a favourite of Jazzanova. His unique blend of latin, soul, funk and jazz is an inspiration, not only for Jazzanova.
Bataan was born in 1942 to a Filippino dad and Afroamerican mother in Spanish Harlem, New York. In this vibrant melting pot of vast cultural influences he soon developped his own style and became one of the biggest star of the booming boogaloo scene. With his hits for the imprint, he helped Fania Records to become the biggest Latin label by the late 1960’s and founded Salsoul Records in 1974, which he later sold to the Carye brothers. In 1982, after recording 10 albums and numerous singles, he retreated from his music career. Only in 2005 he came back with an new album and is touring since then on a regular basis.
Throughout this all, Bataan’s signature song has remained one of his earliest: “Ordinary Guy,” first recorded back in 1966. An original composition, the song bespeaks Bataan’s around-the-way demeanor and self-perception. For all his career highs and lows, he’s remained, at the core, just an ordinary joe: “It’s been my moniker for a long time. You know, hey, I’m an ordinary guy. Don’t expect anything else. I mean, that’s me, and I’ve always been that way.” He recorded at least four versions of it over the years and is also a great entry into appreciating how he innovated the whole Latin Soul genre.
The rework by Jazzanova, with newly recorded vocals by now 70-yeras old Bataan, is much more than just an update of this timeless classic. The swining back groove is a modern interpretation of 60’s soul/funk that takes you back to the golden days of Motown, Stax and Fania. The fantastic drum break in the middle of the track and the kinky rhythm guitar licks as well as the lively bass (provided by Jazzanova live band members Arne Jansen and Paul Kleber) are so right on the money that probably even Booker T. & The M.G.’s wouldn’t have done a better job.