Al discusses records he produced or compiled.
Column: The Other Side Of The CD
by Al Santiago
Looking over the Descarga catalog gave me much self-satisfaction and also a sense of accomplishment. To realize that about fifteen albums which I produced or compiled going back to the '60s have recently been re-issued on CD is very flattering to me. The product of my musical initiative and creativeness is still giving enjoyment to record collectors.
I remember when I produced Se Te Quemo La Casa (Orlando Marin, circa 1961),we were in the studio listening to sound effect records to find the sound of a fire-engine to use on the record. As good as those professional sound effect records usually are, we weren't happy with their sound of a fire engine. Then one of Marin's 4 trumpet players on the date...Wilson Cocolia Brigoni (to be exact) said, "Oiganmen, oiganmen" and took the mouthpiece out of his horn and started to imitate a fire engine. It was so convincing, we used it on the record. I also remember that a few months after the 45 or LP was released Orlando's vocalist (on the LP), Chivirico Davila, had a life threatening experience with his wife and son. Their apartment burned down and they barely escaped.
My Best of Cuba compilation was an unexpected assignment I got from Armada and Rodriguez during a vacation visit to Hialeah, Florida about 1977. I just dropped in to say hello when they requested I prepare it for them. They gave me about 80 LPs from their various labels and told me to pick the best 12 numbers from over 900 selections. It took about two weeks just to hear the 80 LP's once through. I am very meticulous and it took a long time to do. I also am very pleased, of course, that the LP has been very well received and is selling in numbers as a CD. Should we look forward to volume two?
In 1967 Tito Rodriguez called and threatened to sue me if I released his version of This Is An Orchestra (Esta Es Mi Orquesta). I was Staff Producer with Musicor Records at the time. Tito had the position previously and had now moved to Puerto Rico. The tape was unknown and being ignored in the Musicor tape vault. I was putting together some Victor Paz instrumentals - without Tito - LP's when I inadvertently stumbled onto the tape. What a pleasant surprise — imagine an unreleased Tito Rodriguez LP? Wow! As I heard it I recognized that it was virtually a word for word translation of the Stan Kenton original. I guess Tito had not gotten clearance with the music publisher and wanted to avoid a law suit. His solution was to threaten me with litigation. He never served me any papers. I released the LP and today it is a CD. The Kenton estate was probably never aware of the plagiarism.
I will continue to write of my memorable career and current opinions if your response encourages me. By the way, in the late 50's I wrote a column for Farrandula magazine titled The Third Side of the Record. I look forward to your comments and questions if any.
Please write c/o the Descarga Newsletter.