A new 15-track CD produced by DJ Louie Vega and his Masters at Work partner Kenny Gonzalez should be occasion to celebrate. Vega is one of the giants of underground house music, a turntable mixer fierce, explosive, and soulful. With Gonzalez, he has forged a ton of house-music classics, including several sung by India, his wife and a big Latin soul star in her own right.
But celebration there’ll be none, for there is no turntable work on Our Time Is Coming. Its songs follow the pattern of MAW’s Nuyorican Soul, a mellow album of piano and guitar, Latin rhythms, soft female vocals, and wistful melodies that feels more like background music than like the main act. Even the reasonably energetic tracks here — "MAW Expensive (a Tribute to Fela)," Lynae’s "Life Is But a Dream," and "Latin Lover," by the unjustly forgotten Stephanie Mills, a 1970s disco diva — cry out for a Vega mix: leaping quick-cuts, in-your-arms overlays, delirious echo blends. Without them, the set lacks drama. If your thing is Rickey Henderson without stolen bases, or Kobe Bryant without slam dunks, you might understand, and even like, Our Time Is Coming. But I suspect this CD will be left to those club DJs into whose fierce house sets at least some of MAW’s Nuyorican songs can be made to fit.