Forty years ago on the evening of 26 August, the Fania All-Stars emerged onstage at the legendary Cheetah club in New York and proceeded to single-handedly unleash the musical phenomenon known as the Salsa Explosion of the '70s. The show, which included such classic tropical jams as 'Anacaona' with a fiery Cheo Feliciano on vocals, and the playful 'Quítate Tú,' was recorded and released as the two LP set 'Live At The Cheetah,' and under the direction of founder Jerry Masucci, was filmed, the footage laying the foundation for a feature length movie documenting the burgeoning salsa movement.
The resulting film, 'Our Latin Thing,' has been something of a collector's item during the past decades. Now, a remastered edition of both the movie and its associated music is being released by Fania.
Directed by celebrated documentary filmmaker Leon Gast, 'Our Latin Thing' captures the sweaty fever of that 1971 show at the Cheetah. The cast of salsa stars, including Héctor Lavoe, Larry Harlow and Johnny Pacheco among many others, look natural and spontaneous, seemingly unaware of the cameras surrounding them both on stage and in the studio. Gast also captures a sense of life in the Spanish Harlem, adding texture to a film that acts like a virtual time machine, sending the viewer right into the lightning-in-a-bottle moment when salsa was born.