THE PULSE OF NEW YORK CITY
“Watch me now, Feel the groove”
This edition of The Soundtrack Of A Photograph is all about the pulse of a New York City that I feel is disappearing gradually under the weight of overdevelopment and a societal desire to have no inconvenience whatsoever. The photographs I am including here remind me of a grittier, not always so nice, not always so safe time in our recent history. The soundtrack for these photographs comes from a legend of the New York music scene, a pioneer of funk and an influence on hip hop. He had the ability to switch gears between a Latin groove to a hard rocking sound within the same song. That music was not a part of my musical landscape growing up, or so I thought until years later when I began listening to it because of a personal connection to the man.
When my sisters and I were growing up, our Dad would regale us with stories of “this musician” he used to know at one of his jobs in the early 1960’s. His name was Jimmy Castor, and he was a saxophone player, as a black and white press photo Dad had of one of Jimmy’s early groups The Casals showed. On the New York scene Jimmy had already had a bit of a career already. Like so many others, Jimmy began as a doo wop singer, recording the song I Promise To Remember in 1956 with his group Jimmy & The Juniors which was later covered by Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers. In fact, Jimmy filled in for an increasingly troubled Frankie at one point. But probably a typical story of most budding musicians, Jimmy was working a day job, which is how he came to know my father and playing music by night. Though Dad had growing up (and still possesses) a wonderful collection of classic early rock and roll 45’s, I think by his own admission, he did not really care for the style of music Jimmy was playing at the time. In any case, Jimmy’s star was about to shine bright in just a few years time, while my dad moved on to marriage and fatherhood.