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12/26/99

A discographic profile of the popular Puerto Rican-born sonero and percussionist.


Profile: Frankie Vázquez by John Child (John_Child@descarga.com)

VÁZQUEZ, Frankie

(b 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.



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