Grooves & Samples #5: Nil’s Jazz Ensemble – Reflexiones / Somos Nada (1976)

Grooves & Samples #5: Nil’s Jazz Ensemble – Reflexiones / Somos Nada (1976)

Grooves & Samples is a weekly dive into old dusty crates of jazz, funk, soul and beyond.

This week I want to take your ears to my beloved ancestral land of Peru, and the most sought after groove based Peruvian record of all; Nil’s Jazz Ensemble‘s self titled 1976 LP. The album features some of the most talented musicians and composers of the time playing a mouthwatering blend of latin jazz funk. 

During the 60s and 70s in Peru, rock music dominated the country and precious few musicians experimented with funk or jazz. There are only a few well known groove based recordings from that time period in Peru, and none of them were major commercial successes. However, many of those records are now sold for hundreds of dollars between collectors and have become highly revered examples of latin jazz/funk fusion.

Nilo Espinosa’s 1976 one off record with Nil’s Jazz Ensemble, featuring Black Sugar’s Chino Figueroa on keys, is probably the most recognized album of all Peruvian jazz/funk. The LP featured some slamming covers of American tunes as well as stunning original compositions. “Reflexiones” is a massive tune which erupts into explosive saxophone and keyboard performances from both Nilo and Chino, a must-hear for any latin jazz enthusiast.

Usually we just showcase one song, but today I simply have to mention two songs from this album. The second tune is something that has bothered me for quite some time. The first time I listened to this album, when the song “Somos Nada” came on, I instantly turned my head to the turntable and stared in stunned silence. I swear the song has a part which sounds remarkably similar to something from the Mario series of video games. I can’t put my finger on exactly what Mario song it sounds like, but I’m fairly certain there is an uncanny resemblance. I’d like to reach out to the ears of our readers to help me investigate this conundrum, does this 1976 rare Peruvian jazz song emulate the sounds of an iconic Japanese video game? Let us know what you think!

Kamir Hiam (USA) has been obsessed with hip hop culture since discovering rap as a child in the mid 90s. As curator of The Find's Stay Thirsty podcast, he is an obsessive crate digger, always looking for more dope music. Other hobbies include travel, reading, fitness, and science.