Ray Santiago, "Pa'que nadie me olvide," CD, TL-13826.10
Review: Pa'que Nadie Me Olvide
by Chico Alvarez
This is my first CD review for the Descarga Newsletter and I can’t think of a better person to bestow such an honor upon than pianist Ray Santiago, who has been tinkling the ivories now for more than twenty years. If the name somehow sounds familiar to you, it should. You may think you recognize him when you hear his frenzied montunos race alongside Ray Martinez’ tumbaos. And if the music on this CD conjures up some memories of the old Saoco group, it would not surprise me. You see, Ray was a founding member of that group. His style, hard-driving yet tasty, is sure to satisfy any fan of straight-ahead Cuban dance music.
However, unless you’ve lived (and danced) in the city of Brooklyn, it’s unlikely that you have ever been exposed to this energetic and creative musician. With this CD, all that will dramatically change. And, if you are one of those folks who are really thirsting to hear good Cuban salsa—a là New York City—then this one’s for you. It contains eight no nonsense tunes, full of positive messages, and some great singing by both Abe Rodriguez and Julian Llanos, as well as great arrangements by former Saoco founder William Millan and keyboard giant Oscar Hernandez, among others. The often used verb exciting is the only way I can describe the rhythms laid down by former Saoco member Ray Alcantara, popular New York deejay Jose Clausell and pianist David Forrestier (heard here on bongos). Trombonists Leo Pineda and Reynaldo Jorge shine throughout this recording, as do all the members of the group.
This is Ray’s second recording as a leader, and if he doesn’t screw with the formula, chances are there will be many more like this one. I dig all the selections, but particularly pleasing to me are “Huerfanito” (which features Ray on piano solo), “Montaña,” “Genial Compositor,” and the title track, which is a smoker. So, here it is. Check it out for yourselves. Ray Santiago may not be getting any airplay on the megabucks station, but he’s still a winner.