A discographic profile of the popular Puerto Rican-born sonero and percussionist.
Profile: Frankie Vázquez by John Child (John_Child@descarga.com)
Efrain Vázquez, 6 Jan. '58, Salinas, Puerto Rico; raised in Guayama, P.R.) Rising
sonero and percussionist (conga, timbales, clavé, maracas, güiro and campana). Started
as a conguero with his own band, Los Generales, playing in his father's restaurant;
whilst filling-in temporarily for the group's unreliable lead singer, he proved to be
better and more popular so switched to lead vocals; thereafter he's combined singing
and playing percussion. Relocated to NYC '77. Made recording debut on the Al Santiago
production Fuego '77
'78 on Alegre by the young band of the same name; Al's liner note described Frankie
as "keen, energetic and peppy"; he provided coro and sang lead voice on the cut "Nueva
York"; his cousin David Sánchez handled the remaining lead vocals. Fuego '77 lasted
two years. He then spent two years with Sonido Taiborí (Sánchez sang coro on Johnny Ortiz y Taiborí
'79 on Fania with lead singer Tito Nieves; founder Ortiz, a prominent Puerto Rican
composer, subsequently departed), one and a half years with Orquesta Calidad and intermittently
worked for three years with Orquesta Metropolitana co-led by the revered güiro/timbales player Osvaldo "Chi Hua Hua" Martínez. He participated in a tribute to the
recently deceased Chi Hua Hua c '83-4.
He joined Wayne Gorbea's Conjunto Salsa for five years, providing lead vocals and
güiro to Sigan Bailando
'86 on Wayne Go. Accompanied Conjunto Salsa's mus. dir./ bassist Harry Justiniano
and conguero Angel Justiniano in a move to the Bronx-based charanga Charanson led
by pianist/ prod./ composer Héctor Serrano; he's with them on the Dec. '87 recording
of "Descarga (Around Midnight)," one of the highlights on The Montuno Sessions - Live From Studio "A"
'95 on Mr Bongo, and sings on their cassette single "Ese Gallo"/ "A Las Seis" '93
on Quénepa Productions. Spent five years with the band of pianist/arranger/composer/
producer Javier Vázquez (no relation to Frankie), whose CV incl. membership in La
Sonora Matancera and Ismael Rivera y sus Cachimbos. Performed on Javier Vázquez y su Sonora's
outstanding Ella Me Olivido
'90 on Cuco incl. the now deceased trombonist Jose Rodrigues (of Eddie Palmieri's
Conjunto La Perfecta fame) and violinist Pupi Legarreta guesting; Javier's brief
liner note compliments Frankie on his "brilliant work" on the album.
He replaced Herman Olivera as lead singer with Manny Oquendo & Libre Dec. '90, making
his UK debut with them at London's The Grand, Mar. '92, and album debut on Mejor Que Nunca '94 on Milestone. Sessioned on Angelo Vaillant's salsa romántica oriented Extasis y Dolor
'93 on Mivajo produced by Colombian pianist/arranger/composer Héctor Martignon
(taking time out from Ray Barretto's Latin jazz aggregation New World Spirit) with
three charts written by Javier Vázquez; Frankie sings lead vocals on seven of the
album's eight tracks incl. a cover of the '70s Nelson Feliciano classic "Cinta Verde." Was
featured singer with the "Héctor Lavoe Orchestra" '93 led by timbalero David Lugo.
Herman returned to Libre '95 to share lead vocals with Frankie; both figured in the
band's return visit to London (at The Forum, 27 Oct. '96) and on their Milestone follow-up
On The Move! (Muevete!) '96 recorded live at Bimbo's 365 Club, San Francisco, May '96. His nearly 10 year
tenure with Libre has been his longest serving stint with a band to date. Sessioned
on Jimmy Bosch's bandleading debut Soneando Trombón
'98 and follow-up Salsa Dura
'99, both on RykoLatino. Toured Europe with Bosch Dec. '98/ Jan. '99 (incl. a London
date at the Jazz Café on 16 Dec.) and July '99.
He has sung with the Lebrón Brothers for over three years, singing co-lead vocals
on Lo Mistico
'98 on Cotique. Teamed up with pianist, bandleader, composer and arranger Martin
Arroyo for the magnificent Los Soneros del Barrio
'99 on Rumbero by the band of the same name, who made their live debut at NYC's prestigious
venue S.O.B.'s on 22 Nov. '99. Others he has worked with include New Swing Sextet,
Moncho Leña, Tony González, La Sonora Matancera, Frankie Morales, Jimmy Delgado, Joe Cuba and Henry Fiol; he's seen performing with Fiol on "Changuería" and "Buscando
Una Melodía" on the video compilation by various artists Salsa Hits Vol.1
'93 released by the Paris based El Dorado Disques & Videos (licensed from Imagenes
TV, Cali, Colombia). Worked at the late José Mangual Sr.'s Cheveré Social Club on
116th St, El Barrio, NYC.
-This is a revised version of one of over 130 Latin music entries written by John Child (John_Child@descarga.com) for The
Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music, 2nd Edition, edit. Donald
Clarke; Penguin Books; 1998; 1524 pages; US$22.95, UK£16.99.
They are published on the Descarga website by kind permission of Mr. Donald Clarke.