Harvey Averne - 1969 – The Harvey Averne Dozen
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Let’s face it, this is Harvey Averne’s best album! The definition of Latin Soul crossover.
With a number of instrumental renderings of pop and soul classics, with a few tracks of his own composition, all of them all with a great and proud loud ‘Latino con Soul’ feeling!
This is one of the most sought alter Latin Soul albums of all ages –the original album costs about 200$!– and that’s only because of one thing: this is Harvey’s best recording made at the same time that he was producing Ray Barreto’s ‘Acid’.
Genious Marty Sheller handles the arrangements, and thats always a guarantee. That’s why the album reaches the classic status of Marty’s work with Mongo Santamaria and of course the voice of Kenny Seymour, formerly of Little Anthony and the Imperials.
The first single off the album was “Never Learned to Dance“, an energetic cooker that remains one of Fania’s fiercest dance tunes of the late ’60s.
A1 Never Learned to Dance 2:57
A2 Dynamite 2:34
A3 Girl That I Love 3:09
A4 I Feel Fine 3:08
A5 Central Park 2:30
A6 The Beat Goes On 3:04
B1 Can You Dig It 3:16
B2 Accept Me 2:41
B3 Why Can’t We Really Be Free 3:02
B4 Lullaby From Rosemary’s Baby 2:55
B5 Goin’ Out of My Head 3:10
B6 Gotta Do My Number 2:56
By the time Averne was fourteen he was a professional musician. During the mid 1950’s through the 1970’s he appeared in hundreds of reviews and shows, at such popular New York venues as the Boulevard Night Club (Queens), The Palladium Ballroom, Lincoln Center, The Village Gate, Jules Podell’s Copacabana, Roseland Ballroom, Harlem’s Apollo Theatre, The Cotton Club, Carnegie Hall, Basin Street East, The Cheetah and The New York Academy Of Music, as well as Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom, Coliseo Roberto Clemente in Puerto Rico and the famed Hollywood Palladium. He found steady work and much inspiration during these years, appearing with such notables as Don Rickles, Tom Jones, Tony Bennett, Harry Belafonte, James Brown, Jerry Butler, The O’Jays, Richard Pryor, The Main Ingredient, Grover Washington Jr, Al Green and Frankie Crocker, among others. In addition to the New York cabaret and club circuit, he performed with his own band “Arvito & His Latin Rhythms” in the Catskill Mountain Resort Area (also known as the Borscht Belt, or the Jewish Alps), a popular vacation spot for New Yorkers since the 1920s.
He worked there from 1950 through 1963, as well as in Long Island’s Lido Beach and Long Beach, a strip which was known for its private beach clubs and hotels. He brought his fiery dance rhythms into the Malibu Beach Club, Colony Beach Club, The Coral Reef, The Monaco, The Sands and The Shelbourne. These venues drew thousands of day-tripper/ members who arrived early to enjoy their cabanas, beaches, pools and tennis courts. Later in the evening, the patrons would dress up elegantly for dinner in the restaurants and take in star-studded shows in the nightclubs. The aforementioned clubs offered such big-name performers as Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Jackie Mason, Mal Z. Lawrence, Al Martino, Buddy Hackett, Hines, Hines and Dad; as well as the popular Latin bands of Tito Puente, Machito, Tito Rodriguez, Eddie Palmieri, Larry Harlow, Joe Cuba, La Playa Sextet and of course Arvito & His Latin Rhythms. All of these stars performed regularly at both the beach clubs and the Catskill resort hotels. Curiously, it was amidst all of this showbiz glitz that Harvey’s love for Latin American music and culture further manifested itself.
A prolific songwriter in his own right (over fifty of his songs have been recorded), Averne wrote most of the material for his newly formed group “The Harvey Averne Dozen”. Their album “Viva Soul”, for Atlantic Records included the top selling hit “My Dream” as well as the often recorded and sampled “You’re No Good”, both of which are Averne-Sheller compositions.
A second album for the Fania label, the self-titled “Harvey Averne Dozen” included Averne compositions “Accept Me”, “Can You Dig It” and the international dance hit “Never Learned to Dance”. It also included the movie theme “Lullaby from Rosemary’s Baby” (Harvey’s recording was subsequently sampled by Big Daddy Kane on his track “Rest In Peace”).
He changed the name of the group to “The Harvey Averne Band” for the Fania release “Brotherhood” (1970). This album included various Latin crossover hits such as “Lovers”, “Come Back Baby”, “Come On And Do Me” and the pop hit “Central Park”. Around this time he began reinvesting his songwriting success into producing, and after years of hard work as a musician he was able to make the transition.
Harvey turned his back on his artistic career, but he would enjoy even greater success as producer and owner of his own Coco Records label. Fittingly, his recordings from the late ’60s and early ’70s are treasured by collectors.