Jammin’ the Melting Pot: Mambonick in New York City

At Harlem Spirituals, we love when history and music collide. Latin-Yiddish Jazz is the epitome of jamming the melting pot here in New York City. One of the reasons New York City offers such a diverse cultural landscape undoubtedly stems from the role that the harbor-city played in welcoming the various waves of immigration throughout the years. We were telling you all about this in our previous article on the Lower East Side. To this day, the incredible diversity of the people of NYC is an aspect that fascinates many tourists, artists and writers. Read on to see why.

Hybrid genres, or fusions, are extremely common in the Big Apple. When Latin Jazz legend and Jewish Brooklyn native Larry Harlow is asked how he got involved with mambo musicians, he replies, “because the girls followed the mambo. And if you didn’t know how to dance, they wouldn’t look at you” (New York Times, March 2014). But what started out as a pick-up line evolved over the years into a deeper and more enduring artistic collaboration. Yiddish Latin music, or Mambonick, quickly spread from East Harlem to become one of the most prominent Jazz genres of the 1950’s in New York City.

Above: Larry Harlow, nicknamed “El Judìo Maravilloso”, the Marvelous Jew, playing one of his hits from his Latin Grammy nominated album.

Mambonick is just one of the reflections of the affinities between ethnic groups that happen in New York! There are many more cross-cultural encounters to explore in NYC. If you don’t know where to start, check out the classic Italian/ modern Japanese fusion restaurant Basta Pasta in Downtown Manhattan! We absolutely love it. To find out more on the history of Jazz in New York and the role that it played for the city’s inhabitants, join us on our Soul Food and Jazz tour every Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays! if you are interested in finding more to do in New York City, search through our complete range of tours, attractions and activities. We can also tailor-make programs specifically to match your desires and budgets. Harlem Spirituals is the ideal one-stop-shop to simplify your planning! Find more information on www.harlemspirituals.com or contact us at info@harlemspirituals.com.

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