Head Spins: Majica and Mano P, from WDNA's Latin Jazz Quarter

This past August, Head Spins gave you the goods on WDNA DJ Gene de Souza, whose Café Brazil show has been heating up the local radio waves every Sunday for the past seven years. But de Souza's show is not the only hot action coming out of the true-blue independent station's Coral Way studios each week. In fact, his road to Rio leads directly to the Latin Jazz Quarter, another sizzling offering found Sundays on the dial at 88.9 FM.

Indeed, Latin Jazz Quarter is one of WDNA's signature shows, and it runs seven days a week at various times. But we're here now to hype the Sunday-night edition, broadcast from 8 to 11 p.m., which is hosted by Majica and Mano P, arguably the genre's most formidable power couple.

And, yes, Majica and Mano P are indeed a couple, legally hitched since 2002. The two were brought together by their band, the Baboons, a 16-year-young enterprise whose Evolution was Miami New Times' "Best Album of the Past 12 Months" back in 1999. The band veers seriously Latin, but it goes more for the funk than the jazz.

Majica and Mano P: They're crazy for Cachao.
Majica and Mano P: They're crazy for Cachao.

Majica and Mano P save that for their radio show, which encompasses Latin jazz from its auspicious beginning to its far-flung present. Majica says the idea is "to bring you around the world in 180 minutes every week." And around the world they go, finding strains of Latin jazz everywhere from Iceland to South Africa, Uruguay to Japan.

"We want to bring people outside the normal parameters and show that Latin jazz is ever-evolving, always mixing with new scenes," Mano P says. "And the Latin jazz from the Congo is going to be very different from, say, the flamenco jazz in Spain."

Tune in any given Sunday evening and hear just how the genre has branched off and expanded over the decades. But though Majica and Mano P seem intent on ferreting out what's new and now, they never ignore the originators. Tito Puente, Machito, and Cachao always get their due, as do early adopters such as the Fania All-Stars.

The twosome even goes one further, and each Sunday at the stroke of 10 p.m., they get into a segment called "International Ellington." A boisterous and almost devotional part of the program, it shows the Latin side of Duke, both then and now. Ellington's "Caravan" in many ways was a precursor to much Latin jazz to come, and according to Mano P, there's never a shortage of collaborators and interpreters to feature each week.

When Majica and Mano P aren't tripping the world fantastic, they're throwing down sounds grown right here in the Magic City. And sometimes they're slipping up the coast and tipping off listeners to the latest from New Yorkers such as Michel Camilo, Pucho and the Latin Soul Brothers, and Pancho Sanchez, whom Mano P calls "the Woody Allen of Latin jazz."

Of course, none of what these two do could ever be done anywhere else but on WDNA, which is still Miami's only truly independent station. They're both longtime fans of the station — they still recall having their minds blown by the diverse array of music it airs. They also seem way more than grateful for the opportunity to add to the beautiful cacophony. And if the strength of Majica and Mano P's relationship is any indication, the beautiful cacophony is damn happy to have 'em.

Majica and Mano P's top five:

1. "Got Myself a Good Man," Pucho and the Latin Soul Brothers

2. "Caribe," Michel Camilo

3. "Bacalao Con Pan," Irakere

4. "Soul Makossa," Fania All-Stars with Manu Dibango

5. "Caravan," Hiromi

 
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