Fania All Stars
Live In Puerto Rico, June 1994 DVD
(Fania Codigo 509702),
Fania Records celebrated its 30th anniversary in 1994. For this grand occasion, JerryMasucci was able to reactivate his musical monster, the legendary Fania All Stars, afternearly five years of official inactivity. In June, the All Stars set off on an Anniversary Tour with three concerts in San Juan, New York and Miami. All three concerts were filmed andrecorded, but the original get together concert in Puerto Rico was the one officially released in 1995 on both CD/cassette and limited edition VHS versions.
For these concert series, Masucci was able to reunite most of its key members, includingthe original Fania Six rhythm section (Johnny Pacheco, Ray Barretto, Bobby Valentín, Roberto Roena, Papo Lucca, and Nicky Marrero), Larry Harlow (returning to the lineup after more than ten years), Yomo Toro, Pupi Legarreta, and singers Celia Cruz, Cheo Feliciano, Pete El Conde Rodríguez, Ismael Miranda, Adalberto Santiago, Ismael Quintana, and SantosColón. Founding members Héctor Bomberito Zarzuela and Reynaldo Jorge were also onboard for this tour, heading a powerful brass section with the legendary Juancito Torres and his protégé Ito Torres on trumpets and long-time members Leopoldo Pineda and Lewis Kahn.
As special guests, Fania recruited the inimitable Eddie Palmieri for the San Juan and NewYork concerts, while the Miami concert was augmented with the performances of the King himself, Tito Puente, and powerhouse drummer, percussionist, pop diva Sheila E. Another Fania icon, legendary trombonist, singer Willie Colón, joined the band for the New York gig. Local disc jockey Nestor Galán opens this album introducing the orchestra, later joined bythe official emcees for the tour: master dancer Aníbal Vázquez and, returning officially to the lineup, the one and only Izzy Sanabria, who also does the artwork and photo montage for this release. A stunning ten-minute version of Ray Barretto’s megahit “Quítate La Máscara” with Adalberto on vocals starts the fireworks, with the master conguero himself soloing and singing at the same time. Palmieri’s medley “Puerto Rico/Adoración” is next, introduced by an a-capella solo by Yomo Toro on cuatro and featuring Quintana’s powerful voice. From Pacheco’s own repertoire,“Azuquita Mami” is next, a vehicle for El Conde’s prowess as a singer and dancer, featuring a generously long piano statement by Papo Lucca. Ismael Miranda, a man whose voice continuously defies age, brings his own “Borinquen Tiene Montuno”, this time with former boss Harlow on the piano spot and Pupi on violin.
Cheo Feliciano revisits an old tune from his late 1960’s repertoire with Palmieri, “Busca Lo Tuyo”, with the madman himself back on piano. Finally, the queen herself, Celia Cruz, enters the stage with a new tune written for the occasion,“Bombelé”. It’s on this track where Pacheco’s flute finally takes the spotlight for the first time that night. But the night was far from over: an unprecedented three-piano summit between Palmieri, Lucca, and Harlow was the climax for this concert. Building from individual piano solos (Palmieri brings for the occasion a sketch of what later would become his Latin jazz song Doña Teresa) and going through an improvised guajira, the band leaps into an anthological version of “Vámonos Pa’l Monte”, with Quintana back on board and all three pianists trading bars. Marrero, who rose to the occasion that night as the self-proclaimed Fania All Stars’ time clock, finally gets a chance to stretch out here as well. But yet another climactic moment brings the show to a memorable closing as the All Stars reunite on stage for a heartfelt tribute to another fellow member, Héctor Lavoe, as this concert series coincided with the first anniversary of his decease. Relive and enjoy! (BP, 2012-05-30)
Pete "Conde" Rodriguez
Hector "Bomberito" Zarzuela ...others
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