It’s the premiere funk and soul label in the country: Brooklyn’s Daptone Records, known for a string of great records from the likes of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Charles Bradley, Budos Band, Amy Winehouse and many others.
Now you can add one of Richmond’s coolest groups to the list. The lovely and talented Miramar, known for its gorgeous update of romantic Latin American boleros, has a new 45 on Daptone that came out this week. One of the principal singers and songwriters, Rei Alvarez (from Bio Ritmo fame) will be deejaying a party at Steady Sounds records from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday. You can also buy the 45 at Plan 9 (I saw it by the counter) and other fine local stores.
Even more impressive, keyboardist Marlysse Simmons (Bio Ritmo) was eight months pregnant when she did the session in the middle of her last semester of grad school in NYC. She filled Style in by email on how the collaboration came about
I went to live in NY for a bit, decided to get my masters in composition and got connected with pianist/composer Arturo O'Farrill, who at that time was at Brooklyn College. I knew a ton of people thru the years of playing in NY with Bio Ritmo and Miramar and also via Chicha Libre / Barbes Records family that released Miramar's first album and thru that network met Giancarlo. Producer Giancarlo Luiggi -- percussionist/promoter/founding member of Antibalas--is part of the extended Daptone family. He is originally from Puerto Rico with ties to Ponce, PR the same town Rei (and Jorge) are from. (Random!)
Anyways, Giancarlo and I became friends. He is a big fan of Bio Ritmo and Miramar and long story short, he is helping Daptone produce some projects and proposed Miramar. So I presented a couple of unreleased demos previously recorded at Minimum Wage and they were approved! Then I found out I was pregnant so it became a priority to get in the studio before I left NY so two weeks before I returned to RVA - and a month before Desi was born - we recorded at Daptone Studios. I got to plays some super cool vintage organs, on loan from the other producer (keyboardist extraordinaire) Victor Axelrod [ed note: also known as Ticklah] Rei and Laura Ann sang their hearts out (as usual) Rei also played drum set, Cameron Ralston played bass , Hector Barez played percussion and Bryan Vargas on guitar who is our usually guy (also a founding member of Antibalas)
Having heard the two songs, I can say you definitely want to own this 45. The A Side – “Salida” and B-side “Urgencia” are amazing. Beautiful, hypnotic music with great duet singing by Alvarez and Laura Ann Singh, and a host of cool-sounding vintage instruments. The entire Bio Ritmo and Miramar family are quite simply full of musical artists that, for me, make the Richmond music scene special. These are groups that would stand out in much bigger cities, but who have chosen to live here and grace us with their art. If I ever own a vintage jukebox like Paul from Millie's, I'm throwin' this mother on there.
Miramar's official release party and live show is happening May 19 at the Dark Room and you can expect a cool new video sometime soon, too. Keep an eye out.