Joe Bataan & The I Like It Like That Orchestra

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Joe Bataan & The I Like It Like That Orchestra


Bataan has a particularly compelling anecdote from 1968 that tells of his epiphany that what he was doing musically was right.


There was a boat ride party for a neighbourhood school and I guess they wanted a Latin band to play to represent all the Hispanic kids but then all the American kids were like, ‘No we want something soulful’ – they wanted Kool & The Gang. So the the decision makers were like, ‘We’ll get Joe Bataan because we’ll get a bit of both!’” Bataan’s slightly husky New York accent flows like syrup with big chunks of honeycomb in it.


So we played that boat ride and I will never forget when we played The Riot Song for one hour straight and the boat was actually rocking from side to side as we did a conga line that snaked back and forth along the boat. That was the first and only time I have played a song for an hour straight,” explains Bataan.


Bataan is particularly up beat as he chats to your correspondent. The reason for this particularly jovial mood is simple, it’s nice weather where he is in New York.


Well today it is quite mild, we had a few days there where it was really chilly where it went down to the 20s but today we’re lucky, I think it’s about 39F (3C) so it’s comfortable,” tells Bataan as he describes the ambient temperature in New York before he asks, “What’s the temperature over there [in Australia]?”


It is 28C , which converts to about 85F. When the conversion is explained to Bataan he cracks into extended warm laughter and then sums up the topic with, “Get out of town! I love it! So I guess when we get there in March it will really be hot?” In March, Bataan is out here for WOMADelaide, the world music event in Adelaide that takes place from Friday March 9 to Sunday March 11.


It is understandable why Bataan, even after over 40 years, is still super stoked about playing his music and that is because over his long fruitful career he as evolved through over ten different genres of music.


When the boogaloo came along, Joe Bataan was there. Then I took a little trip and got into some trouble so I went back home.” Bataan is referring to some trouble with the law as back then he was involved in a street gang but he bucked a life of crime and stayed in music. He continues, “Then I started doing Latin soul and that became big. Then I got into disco when no one was thinking about disco. Then I followed that through to the ’80s and started doing rap music and no one thought that was going to go anywhere. They thought I was crazy so I brought out II which was probably one of my biggest records that was mostly rap and disco!”


Bataan now goes deeper into the introduction of rap music into what he was doing and explains that happened well before rap even had a name.


After the first little interruption in my career I came back to New York and there was this new sound that nobody had a name for it. And Grandmaster Flash was right there at the start before any one was making records like Arika Bambataa and Zulu Nation. Grandmaster Flash was like King Kong back then as far as spinning records in clubs. He was at the forefront of the music. What he was doing and what I started doing was just so exciting back then!”