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Masters At Work

Related: house music - MAW biography by Tim Lawrence - New York music - Kenny Gonzalez - Louie Vega - Nuyorican Soul

Nuyorican Soul (1997) - Nuyorican Soul [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Masters at Work: 10th Anniversary Pt.2 (1996 - 2000) [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Masters at Work: 10th Anniversary Pt.1 (1990 - 1995) [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]


Masters At Work is the house music production and remix team of Kenny 'Dope' Gonzales and Little Louie Vega. They first worked together using the name (which had originally been loaned to a mutual friend Todd Terry) in 1990.

They have also produced music together under the names MAW, KenLou, River Ocean, and Nuyorican Soul.

Their Nuyorican Soul project sees them working extensively with real (as opposed to sampled or synthesized) musicians, in a variety of styles including Latin, disco, jazz, etc. Musicians who took part in this project include Vincent Montana Jr., Roy Ayers, George Benson, Jocelyn Brown, Tito Puente, and members of the Salsoul Orchestra. The self-titled album released by Nuyorican Soul in 1996 included original tracks as well as cover versions of songs by the performers they were working with, such as "Sweet Tears" (Roy Ayers), and "Runaway," originally sung by Loleatta Holloway with the Salsoul Orchestra, here sung by India, featuring musicians from the original recording of 1977.

MAW have a history as remixers, having recreated tracks for various acts both inside and outside the world of dance music. Some of the artists remixed by the two producers include Madonna, Donna Summer, Janet Jackson, Jamiroquai and Earth Wind & Fire. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masters_At_Work [Aug 2006]


They met when dance music was beginning to sound stale and injected it with a decade's worth of inventive vitality. They surfed through the category-ridden nineties as if the confining notion of genre was just an illusion. They transcended fashion by remaining true to an eclectic musical A-to-Z that opens with Africa Bambaataa and ends at the Zanzibar. And even though they've been collaborating for ten years, they're as prolific today as they've ever been.

'Little' Louie Vega and Kenny 'Dope' Gonzalez are New York's original Masters at Work. A unique urban species, they have listened to and absorbed the cross-cultural sound waves of Roy Ayers, John 'Jellybean' Benitez, George Benson, Jocelyn Brown, Chic, Celia Cruz, the Fania All Stars, Bruce Forest, Larry Heard, Loleatta Holloway, Tony Humphries, Jazzy Jay, Marshall Jefferson, Fela Kuti, Hector LaVoe, Larry Levan, David Mancuso, Eddie Palmieri, Tito Puente, Red Alert, the Salsoul Orchestra, Todd Terry and many more. Their record collections may have been hellish to organise, but by bringing these variegated pasts into an avant-gardist present Gonzalez and Vega have managed to negotiate the precarious sand dune of the dance music industry with such ease and originality that they must now be considered alongside the elite of contemporary dance music remixers. --Tim Lawrence, liner notes to Masters at Work: 10th Anniversary Pt.1 (1990 - 1995) [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Fela Kuti

MAW Presents a Tribute to Fela

"Expensive Shit" / "Zoe" Cat. No: MAW 027
Release: JAN. 1999

"A Tribute To Fela", boasts a list of accomplished musicians who can hold their own when it comes to throwin' down, especially for Fela. The tribute features three cuts; "Expensive Shit" on the A-side, "Zoe", and an accapella version of "Expensive Shit" bringing it on the B-side. MAW did right by bringing Latino legend, Luisito Quintero in on the project. He rips the percussion down on "Expensive Shit". Quintero holds his own and carries heavy weight and keeps the fast paced rhythm steady. Wunmi, an accomplished vocalist in her own right, sings lead. She keeps this Fela cover air-tight, as if she penned the original vocals herself. Her sound and delivery is crisp as well as sharp. Dave Valentin flows on flute. He flutters against a barrage of beats and verbal expressions that transform "A Tribute To Fela" into a cut that's sure to make you want to sweat it out on the dance floor. Also, John Wheeler blows the trombone like there's no tomorrow, while John Scarpulla blasts holes through his one-man saxophone section which include both tenor and baritone horn play.


  1. Stop and Listen 5 [CD, Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    Favourites of Louie and Kenny
    Disc: 1 1. Troubled Girl - Karen Ramirez 2. Melting Pot - Boris Gardner 3. Thousand Fingered Man - Candido 4. Burnin' - Pepe Braddock 5. Wishin' You Were Here - Blaze 6. Beau Mot Plage - Isolee 7. When You Touch Me - Taana Gardener 8. Je Ka Jo - Joe Claussell 9. Puerto Rico - Eddie Palmieri Disc: 2 1. Rude Movements - Sun Palace 2. Seventh Heaven - Gwen Guthrie 3. Number Uno - Cleptomaniacs 4. Coro Miyare - Fania All Stars 5. Saudabe Vem Correndo - Jazz Samba Encore 6. See Line Woman - Nina Simone (my Godmother!) 7. Getcho Soul Togetha Pt.1 - Breakestra 8. Getcho Soul Togetha Pt.2 - Breakestra 9. 2F4U - Slum Village 10. Slowly Surely - Jill Scott 11. Time Is Running Out - Doug E.Carn

  2. Mad Styles & Crazy Visions (1998) [CD, Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    With three cd's crammed with the best disco/house-music you can track down out there, this easily competes wih the best compilations I've heard this year. Put your trust in MAW's "Little" Louie Vega. He knows his music, and as soon you drop one of the cd's (one mix-cd and two with selected full tracks, with names like Glasgow Underground, Simply Red and The Sunburst Band) you'll know that I'm right in awarding 'Mad Styles and Crazy Visions' the full five stars it deserves. For hot summer nights and chilly winter parties; A little expensive, this compilation, but what can you expect! It's made by a master at work! -- Erlend Hogstad for amazon.com

  3. Our Time is Coming (2002) - Masters At Work [CD, Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    Founders of the "Nuyorican sound," Masters at Work, a.k.a. "Little" Louie Vega and Kenny "Dope" Gonzalez, were the most revolutionary house production team of the '90s, so imitated that their innovations are now clichés. Latin percussion, joyous vocals, and natural drum beats are MAW trademarks, levitating dance floors with the band's infectious feeling of ecstasy and energy. If ever there was a massive dance floor filler, it was MAW's 1997 record, Nuyorican Soul, and now, Our Time Is Coming. With cameos by Patti Austin, James Ingram, and Stephanie Mills, the album doesn't break new ground. It simply proves that MAW still write/remix great songs that are more organic and soulful than any current house offerings. Highlights include the Afrobeat-tinged "MAW Expensive (A Tribute to Fela)," Mills's gospel fire on "Latin Lover," and Roy Ayers's glorious vibes solo on the title track. Taking credit for saving a WTC life in "Michelle's Message" is totally crass, but MAW handle even that with style. --Ken Micallef for amazon.com

  4. Masters At Work presents West End Records: the 25th Anniversary Mastermix [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    In celebration of West End Record's 25th Anniversary, West End records announces the release of Masters at Work presents: West End Records (the 25th Anniversary Edition Mastermix).

    Venezuelan Zinga Son 1 (2004) - Los Amigos Invisibles

    Venezuelan Zinga Son 1 (2004) - Los Amigos Invisibles [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

    Although four years passed since their previous album, these Latin playboys are always up for a party, and The Venezuelan Zinga Son Vol. 1 is no different. Produced by New York house music producers Masters At Work, the band's third domestic album is filled with upbeat salsa ("Esto Es Lo Que Hay" is a riot), soft Brazilian grooves, spacey funk, disco, rock and lounge. They roll it all together into street party of good vibes, sexy beats and lecherous thoughts (see track 14), but what keeps the Brooklyn-based sextet out of gutter is that it's hard to find fault when the insidious jams cause you to stop thinking and start dancing. Interestingly, the album seems to ride the arc or raging party: it starts on a promising but mellow tip, then loosens up in the middle part, then rides it out until there’s nothing left to give. Los Amigos' best effort yet, Zinga is all-purpose fun. --Tad Hendrickson, Amazon.com

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