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John Child
John was born in London in 1950. By the late '70s he had become disillusioned with the Anglo-American pop/rock music he grew up with. His first trip to the Caribbean in 1979 with his Trinidadian wife, Helen, opened up whole new musical vistas for him and marked the beginning of an ongoing passion for two music genres: put simply, these are salsa and calypso. During the following 20 years, John's forays in search of live Latin music, records and literature took him to New York, Caracas (Venezuela), Paris, Puerto Rico and Miami.

In 1986 he became involved in writing entries on Latin music/salsa/Latin jazz and calypso/soca for The Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music , initially published in 1989. In the acknowledgements to the first edition, the editor, Donald Clarke, described John as "one of those rare fans who turn out to be better journalists than many who belong to the union." Between 1994 and early 1997 John revised his previous entries and wrote new entries for the second edition of The Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music, published in October 1998, making a total contribution of 150 entries.

From the beginning of 1991 to early 1992 John wrote the Latin music/salsa entries for the four volume Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (published in 1992) - amounting to over 80,000 words and including some of the largest entries in the multi-volume work.

For national BBC Radio 2, John wrote and provided recordings for the six-part series Kaiso! Calypso, broadcast from 7 February to 13 March 1996, and special Kaiso! Christmas, broadcast on Christmas Eve 1996. The shows were presented by Trinidad-born Trevor McDonald, Britain's most famous and most popular TV newscaster. In 1990 John started helping produce, research and prepare special features for numerous editions of Tomek's Aracataca - the UK's first 100% authentic Latin music radio show - for Jazz FM, Kiss FM, Festival Radio and All Nations Radio. In addition to having been an occasional guest on Aracataca, John has guested on Gerry Lyseight's world beat radio show Planet Mambo on BBC Greater London Radio (GLR).

Despite his extensive encyclopedia work, John scrupulously repels being labelled an "expert." "I try to live in accordance with the adage: 'the more you know, the more you realise there is to learn'," he insists. But what about his title el sabio? "That was a nickname lightheartedly bestowed upon me by Tomek in the early Jazz FM days of Aracataca. I suppose some people may not realise that I use it purely in a tongue in cheek way."

A frequent visitor to Trinidad for the annual Carnival season, John is currently - if somewhat erratically - collaborating on a Calypso Who's Who with Alaska-based calypso fanatic Ray Funk.

John's introduction to his personal recommendations:

Whilst it has been a privilege to be asked to recommend 25 albums (plus a video), it has not been an easy job. I was invited in 1994 to prepare my top 25 Latin albums for the book The Top 1000 Albums Of All Time published by Guinness. At the end of the day the editor only included choices from mainstream popular music genres. I could have just recycled this list, but I was conscious of a couple of things. Firstly, it contained many essential albums that you'd advise would-be purchasers that they simply must have in their collections. Secondly, I've noticed there are parts of the Descarga catalog largely untouched by recommendations. So I set myself a twofold mission:

- to concentrate on albums I personally enjoy and often listen to; and

- to penetrate parts of the Descarga catalog so far unvisited by other contributors.

I was 100% successful on the first count, but just couldn't leave out some key titles already recommended by others. The task left me with a profound sense of guilt about the many names and albums I'd left out. However I comforted myself with the thought that many of my Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music entries being carried by the Descarga website make album recommendations.

My list is heavily dominated by salsa dura (hard salsa), salsa y control (restrained yet swinging salsa) and salsa swing. The latter terms seems to have only been coined recently, and I use it as an appropriate tag to describe, for example, the type of robust swinging salsa that came out of centres like Puerto Rico, New York, Venezuela and Colombia during the early to mid-'80s before the salsa romántica trend took hold. However I don't want to be construed as suggesting that salsa swing was only restricted to this period.

John_Child@descarga.com

Here are some reviews by John Child

Andy Harlow, Sorpresa La Flauta
CD (Vaya VS-14),Released 1972;Re-Issued 2006;
[Only a few left in stock. Once it's gone, it's gone. - Ed. ]
**Classics Revisited**
Sorpresa La Flauta, the 1972 solo debut by reeds and vibes player, composer and arranger Andy Harlow on Fania's subsidiary Vaya label garnered a gold disc and spawned "La Lotería", the company's biggest selling 45 rpm to date. His older brother, the already established bandleader, Larry Harlow, produced the album and recommended that Andy adopt a trombanga sound and eschew his main instrument, the sax, to play flute in the band's two 'bones and flute frontline. Talking in detail about the making of the album with me for the Descarga.com piece Interview with a Salsa Brother, Andy revealed sidemen and specific arranger credits omitted from the original vinyl release. These are also given below. "The recording was very well planned up front. We spent a lot of time selecting tunes and assigning arrangers. Larry, Ismael (Miranda) and I did it together," said Andy. "It was a tremendous break for me and I really put all my energies into it." This is clearly evident from this lovingly remastered reissue, and as Andy adds in his liner notes: "This classic hard driving New York salsa dura from the '70s can be enjoyed by a whole new generation of salsa lovers as well as my own generation."
Very Highly Recommended.

Category: Salsa/Son => Salsa: Classic 1960s Or 1970s New York
ORDER TL-12895.10 CD Add to My Shopping Cart

Arsenio Rodriguez Y Su Conjunto, Arsenio Rodriguez Y Su Conjunto, Vol. 2
CD (Ansonia 1418),Released 1966;Re-Issued 1999;
**Classics Revisited**
Arsenio founded the Cuban conjunto format in the 1940s containing two or three trumpets. However, unlike some of his imitators who have tended towards a conservative defence of "orthodoxy", the master himself was an experimentalist. For example, on this mid-'60s New York recording he uses a trumpet / sax combination in his conjunto, which features the legendary Marcelino Guerra and a young Santiago Ceron on vocals. Typically there are no personnel credits given for the sidemen, but thanks to the lead singers, René "El Látigo" Hernández is identified as the pianist, who takes masterfully succinct solos on "Jugando Al Silo", "Sueltala", "Quiero Mucho A Mi Suegra" and "No He Visto A Caridad". The album is replete with soloing from the sax and trumpet players and from Arsenio on tres. For instance, check out the stunning sax solos on "Necesito Una Mujer Cocinera" and "Jugando Al Silo". I have long speculated about who plays the sax and takes the trumpet solos. A likely candidate for the latter is trumpeter Alfredo "Chocolate" Armenteros. Percussionist, drummer and leader Bobby Sanabria thinks the mystery saxophonist could be either Gene Jefferson or Mauricio Smith. This is essential stuff.
Highly recommended.
Category: Salsa/Son => Son, Guaracha, Guajira=> Cuba
ORDER TL-1728.10 CD Add to My Shopping Cart

Bobby Valentin, Siempre En Forma
CD (Bronco 120),Re-Issued 1995;
**Classics Revisited**
The title Siempre En Forma, Always On Form, was no exaggeration in 1981 because Bobby Valentín's output during the previous decade had been of an unrelentingly high standard. This was singer Rafael (Rafú) Warner's second album with Bobby's orchestra, and the source of his first major hit, the wonderful "Cuando Uno Se Enamora" composed by Henry Arana, which is worth the price of the CD alone. Rafú had left Impacto Crea after their album Impacto Crea 1981 '80 on Vaya to join Bobby's existing frontline vocalists Cano Estremera and Johnny Vázquez on 1980's Bobby Valentín (aka El Gato) on Bronco. Siempre En Forma also spawned "Que Te Pasó" and " La Tinajita", two of the many hits Cano had during his six-year tenure with the orchestra, and Johnny's hits "No Me Conoces" (also by Arana), "El Prendedor" and "Tu Rica Boca". Bobby's arrangements and production were as authoritative as ever. Johnny retired in 2002 after 27 years and 15 albums with the organization, while Cano went on to record a significant solo body of work and is still active. After making another four albums with Bobby between 1983 and 1988, Rafú departed and assumed an unconvincing romantic image to pursue a brief and undistinguished solo career with the soft salsa erótica albums Usame (1989) and Entrégate (1990), both on Sonotone. He re-launched his solo career in 2003 with A Mis Amigos on Performance, on which he got back to the serious business of making robust swinging salsa.
Highly Recommended.
Category: Salsa/Son => Salsa=> Puerto Rico
ORDER TL-8620.10 CD Add to My Shopping Cart

Charanga De La 4, Lo Mejor De La Charanga De La 4
CD (SAR/Guajiro 1006),Released 1989;
Back in stock...
**Classics Revisited**
Roberto Torres produced five Charanga De La 4 albums for SAR in New York before he took the label to Miami in the mid-'80s. This "best of" compilation collects seven tracks from four of the New York albums released between 1979 and 1983 and one from the first of four Miami productions to date issued between 1986 and 1997 (see the track listing for more details). In my view, the material from the New York period is superior. From the outset Charanga De La 4 was characterised by the anonymity of its musicians, and only the arrangers and/or director were ever credited, which I also provide below. The first six Charanga De La 4 vinyl albums only contained four extended tracks each, and the eight cuts compiled in this anthology range in length from just under six minutes to over 11 minutes, totalling nearly an hour of solo studded bliss. If salsa heaven has a soundtrack, Charanga De La 4 are certain to figure prominently.
Highly recommended.
Category: Dance Traditions => Charanga
ORDER TL-10592.10 CD Add to My Shopping Cart

Charanga La Tapa, Charanga
CD (SAR/Guajiro 104),Released 1981;Re-Issued 1994;
**Classics Revisited**
Here are six glorious extended cuts peppered with solos that you can really lose yourself in. Messrs. Martínez and Alfonso (otherwise know as Hansel & Raúl) did a wonderful job on the production. The session is packed with luminaries like Gilberto "El Pulpo" Colón on piano, Puente's stalwart bassist Bobby Rodríguez, tres player Charlie Rodríguez and percussionist Mike Martínez; together with Héctor "Tempo" Alomar and Tony "Pupy Cantor" Torres, the vocal duo on Libre's early albums. However, there is no credit given for the arrangements. Particularly outstanding is the blistering rendition of Eddie Palmieri's "Vamonos Pa'l Monte", featuring keynote solos from El Pulpo and timbalero Charlie Santiago. The original vinyl issue of Charanga La Tapa in 1981 on the Neon label only contained the four tracks "Vamonos Pa'l Monte", "El Platanal De Bartolo", "Papa Montero" and "Oriente". I'm not wholly convinced that the Charanga La Tapa personnel recorded the bonus cuts "Presente Y Pasado" and "Macorina". I suspect they are possibly previously unreleased material from Charanga De La 4 sessions. Never the less, you get a total playing time of 56 sublime minutes!
Highly recommended.
Category: Dance Traditions => Charanga
ORDER TL-13412.10 CD Add to My Shopping Cart

Charlie Palmieri, Pachanga At The Caravana Club: Charlie Palmieri And His Charanga La Duboney
CD (Alegre 8040),Released 1962;Re-Issued 1999;
[Only a few left in stock. Once it's gone, it's gone. - Ed. ]
**Classics Revisited**
Even though Charanga La Duboney's first album was Let's Dance The Charanga! '60 on United Artists (reissued as Echoes Of An Era on West Side Latino), I regard Pachanga At The Caravana Club as their unofficial debut, because it has all the excitement and freshness of an inaugural release. The story goes that Charlie was obliged to break his contract with United Artists when the company insisted that he record Hawaiian music! This was because the contract of Tito Rodríguez, who signed with the label in 1960, stipulated that he would be the only artiste to record Latin music for them. Charlie and Charanga La Duboney switched to Al Santiago's Alegre Recording Corp. They made Pachanga At The Caravana Club and two other albums for the label between 1961 and 1963, and contributed two tracks to 1961's Las Charangas, which also featured the charangas of Johnny Pacheco and José Fajardo. The tracks "Como Bailan La Pachanga", a pachanga composed by the "King of the Merengue" Dioris Valladares, and "La Pachanga Se Baila Asi" (co-written by Joe Quijano and Palmieri), were both hits in Farándula magazine's New York Latin Top 15 in May 1961. Charlie takes notable solos on "Charangona" and "El Baile Nuevo", written by his younger brother Eddie. There's a great violin solo, presumably by José "Chombo" Silva, on "Pachanga Sabrosa", also penned by Eddie. Charlie's composition "El Brinco Loco" really rocks, as does his self-penned opener "Bronx Pachanga U.S.A.". Albums don't come more classic than this!
Highly recommended.
Category: Dance Traditions => Charanga
ORDER TL-17279.10 CD Add to My Shopping Cart

Chocolate Armenteros, Y Sigo Con Mi Son — Lo Mejor Vol. 2
CD (SAR/Guajiro 1013),Released 1982;Re-Issued 1991;
**Classics Revisited**
The hoo-ha caused by the deserved international success of the trademarked Buena Vista Social Club over the last decade has eclipsed the significance of a number of major US-based Cuban artists. One example is trumpeter Alfredo "Chocolate" Armenteros, a prominent name during the era of Cuban music Buena Vista nostalgia harks back to, and who actually performed with legends such as Septeto Habanero, Arsenio Rodríguez and Beny Moré, among others. He took up residence in New York in 1960, and after working as a sideman with numerous luminaries, including Machito, Larry Harlow, Eddie and Charlie Palmieri, he became a bandleader in 1974. In 1979 he became a house musician with SAR and the related Guajiro and Toboga labels, recording with Roberto Torres, Papaíto, Henry Fiol, and many others including the SAR All Stars. In addition, he fronted a conjunto with a trumpet / trombone frontline for three beautiful típico Cuban LPs, Prefiero El Son (1980), Y Sigo Con Mi Son (1980) and Chocolate Dice (1982), all produced by Torres and predominantly arranged by Alfredo Valdés Jr. The three albums are compiled on Lo Mejor De Chocolate Vols. 1 & 2, but without any personnel details. Despite using the title and artwork of Y Sigo Con Mi Son, volume two only contains two tracks from the original vinyl release that also marked the US recording debut of the talented Cuban sonero and composer Fernando Lavoy. The remaining six tracks are Chocolate Dice in its entirety, featuring Afro-Cuban virtuoso Alfredo Rodríguez on keyboards, tres maestro Charlie Rodríguez, trombonists Jimmy Bosch and Lewis Khan and vocalist Charlie Romero, who has recorded with Conjunto Candela and Ray Martínez's Sabor Criollo. All the material conforms with the SAR policy of stretched-out numbers with plenty of spaces for improvisation. Though far from Buena Vista Social Club proportions, Chocolate receives recognition in the recently issued DVD The Cuban Swing: Tribute To The Legend Chocolate Armenteros, Live In Puerto Rico (Mundo Libre, 2006), the first release he has headlined since 1998.
Very highly recommended.
Category: Salsa/Son => Son, Guaracha, Guajira
ORDER TL-11794.10 CD Add to My Shopping Cart

Conjunto Candela, Conjunto Candela, Vol. 2
CD (Combo 2003),Released 1977;Re-Issued 1997;
**Classics Revisited**
An alumnus of the bands of Kako, Mon Rivera and Johnny Pacheco, pianist Héctor L. Castro organised Conjunto Candela in the early 1970s. Thanks to Sonny Bravo, I learnt that he was referred to as "Piano de la Cientodiez" because he lived on New York's 110th Street. Over the years, membership of the two-trumpet conjunto included bassist Victor Venegas (1932-2006), percussionist Luis Mangual, tres player Charlie Rodríguez, conguero Arturo Rafael Puerto "Papo" (a nephew of Arsenio Rodríguez) and singers Carlos Santos, Héctor Casanova and Nestor Sánchez (1949-2003). The group made two albums under Castro's leadership, Conjunto Candela (1976) and Conjunto Candela, Volume Two (1977), both for Ralph Cartagena's Combo label. Raphy Marzán, who replaced Chucky López as the bongo player on volume two, and also received a credit on the album sleeve for "business", subsequently became the leader of the group. Charlie Romero and Luis "El Tirano" Rodríguez, one of my favourite singers, who has performed with Bobby Quesada, Héctor Rivera, Louie Cruz and Johnny Pacheco, among others, share lead vocals. The eight songs include a bolero and merengue. Rubén Blades, who wrote the hit "Amor Pa' Que" from Candela's first album, penned the opening cut "Negro Cimarron" for volume two. Other standout tracks are the Luis Rodríguez composition "Mi Son" and "A Los Santos" written by tres player Tony Vélez. The set closes with the jazz inflected "Gozaremos De Verdad" featuring a nice solo from Victor Venegas.
Highly recommended.
Category: Salsa/Son => Salsa
ORDER TL-17101.10 CD Add to My Shopping Cart

Conjunto Candela, Conjunto Candela 79
CD (SAR/Guajiro 4005),Released 1981;Re-Issued 1994;
**Classics Revisited**
Back in stock!
Originally founded by pianist Héctor Castro in the early '70s, Conjunto Candela's bongosero Raphy Marzán had assumed leadership by the time Conjunto Candela 79 was made. Apart from Raphy, the only member remaining from the group's previous album Conjunto Candela, Volume Two (Combo, 1977) was Luis "El Tirano" Rodríguez, who shares lead vocals with the smoky-voiced sonero Miguel Quintana (1930-2004). The album's five extended son montunos and a guajira are arranged in the SAR/Guajiro house style, probably by pianist Alfredo Valdés Jr., though there is no arranger credit given. Presumably it's Alfredo who takes the solos on "Mayari" and "Enamorada Guajira". The group went on to make one more album, El Sabor Del Conjunto Candela/86 (Laslos, 1986) with Charlie Palmieri guesting, which has yet to be reissued.
Highly recommended.
Category: Salsa/Son => Salsa
ORDER TL-13171.10 CD Add to My Shopping Cart

Fania All Stars, Live at the Cheetah Vol. 2
CD (Fania Codigo 509103),Released 1974;Re-Issued 2011;
**Classics Revisited**
The first salsa records I acquired were by the Fania All Stars, and among the first handful of their albums I purchased were Live At The Cheetah, Vols. 1 & 2 (1971), Live At Yankee Stadium, Vols. 1 & 2 (1975) and Live (1978). They blew me away and fueled a passion to dig deeper into the Fania catalogue and its history. Among the items I have collected is a 1973 account of the early years of the Fania All Stars by Fania Records co-founder Jerry Masucci, in which he said the following about the Cheetah gig: "We held the concert on a Thursday night (26 August 1971). The Cheetah held 2000 people and no one thought we would sellout. But the night of the concert 4000 people squeezed into the Cheetah and the lines outside stretched around the block. Volumes 1 and 2 of Live At The Cheetah, which were recorded that night, became the biggest selling Latin albums ever produced by one group from one concert." The Cheetah concert was filmed and formed the backbone of the electrifying documentary Our Latin Thing (Nuestra Cosa), which premiered in New York on 19 July 1972 and played a key role in launching salsa on the worldwide stage.
Very Highly Recommended.
Category: Salsa/Son => Salsa: Classic 1960s Or 1970s New York
ORDER TL-5758.10 CD Add to My Shopping Cart

Fernando Lavoy, Fernando Lavoy Y Los Soneros
CD (SAR/Guajiro 1032),Released 1982;Re-Issued 1994;
**Classics Revisited**
In 1982, he took star billing on the follow-up Fernando Lavoy y Los Soneros and composed half the songs, including the fantastic mellow groove "Cójelo Suave" and upbeat mover "No Vuelvo Contigo". Fine piano solos from Juan González Jr distinguish both tracks.. The album kicks off in brisk form with "No Voy A Dormir", on which Juan González unleashes a tasty ornate trumpet solo. He also solos on "Cójelo Suave", where his trumpet work veritably oozes sabor, the Miguel Matamoros tune "Pegaditos" and Fernando's third composition "No Vuelvo Contigo". The Juan González penned track "Arrolle Bailando" showcases a tour de force solo from conguero Roberto Borrel topped and tailed by soaring, layered trumpet lines.
Fernando relocated to Miami, where he sessioned as a chorus singer during the remainder of the '80s. In 1989 he returned with the yet to be reissued Fernando Lavoy Con El Conjunto Dinastiadiez on Don Mateo / Codiscos, recorded in Bogotá, Colombia and Miami. Musically, the album was one of the strongest salsa releases of the year and spawned "La Perrita De Vicente", another tune popular with Colombians. In the mid-'90s he was murdered in a case of mistaken identity.
Fernando Lavoy y Los Soneros is well performed, arranged and produced, and come highly recommended.
Category: Salsa/Son => Son, Guaracha, Guajira
ORDER TL-13629.10 CD Add to My Shopping Cart

Fernando Lavoy, Los Soneros
CD (SAR/Guajiro 1019),Released 1981;Re-Issued 1994;
**Classics Revisited**
Born in Havana, Cuba, in 1950, talented sonero and composer Fernando Lavoy (nicknamed "El Montunero") arrived in the USA in 1980. That year he was introduced on Alfredo "Chocolate" Armenteros' Y Sigo Con Mi Son on SAR performing extended interpretations, arranged by Cuban pianist Alfredo Valdés Jr., of six songs associated with the Cuban bands Sonora Nacional and Conjunto Bolero, the original versions of which were all included on the collection Sones, Rumbas y Guaguancó issued by the Cuban state label Areito. The six cuts from Y Sigo Con Mi Son are collected in the highly recommended anthologies Lo Mejor De Chocolate Vol. 1 (1990 on SAR) and Y Sigo Con Mi Son - Lo Mejor Vol. 2 (1991 on SAR).
In 1981 Fernando made notable contributions to SAR All Stars Recorded Live In Club Ochentas, Album 1 and SAR All Stars Interpretan A Rafael Hernández; also highly recommended. The same year, Fernando made Los Soneros, the first of two albums for SAR with the band of the same name. Los Soneros were one of the few aggregations to record for SAR (and the allied Guajiro, Toboga and Neon imprints) not comprised of the label's house musicians. Their musical director, arranger and trumpeter was Juan González, who had been first trumpeter with the legendary Cuban band Conjunto Casino. He had also worked with Conjunto Saratoga and pianist Luis Santí and directed Conjunto Musicuba de Tejedor. The CV of the band's bongo player, Juan Méndez, features names like Roberto Faz, Orquesta Rumbavana, Johnny Pacheco and the SAR All Stars. Emulating Conjunto Casino, Los Soneros featured four trumpets, rhythm section (piano, bass, conga, bongo) and voices, with the addition of tres guitar. Both albums followed the SAR policy of stretched-out numbers with plenty of spaces for improvisation.
Fernando wrote half the tracks on the rock solid Los Soneros, including "Refréscate La Memoria", which became a hit in the Colombian market. Juan González takes soulful solos on this track - his horn braying a la Chappottín -, "Mi Son Sandunguero" and the other two Lavoy penned numbers, "Guaguancó Pa'l Mundo" and "Mulata, Sé Que Te Gusta". On the outstanding "El Timbero Mayor", Fernando's soneos glide effortlessly over the powerful, insistent coro voices and the precision trumpet section fire volleys of cascading phrases. "El Mensajero" provides a platform for a masterful conga solo.

Category: Salsa/Son => Son, Guaracha, Guajira
ORDER TL-13169.10 CD Add to My Shopping Cart

Grupo Fascinación, Salsa Vice
CD (Rico Records 910),Released 1986;Re-Issued 2006;
**Classics Revisited**
Salsa Vice was Fascinación's third and final album for Ralph Cartagena's Rico Records label and not reissued until now. As with the band's second release Tiburón (1985), current Spanish Harlem Orchestra trumpeter Pete Nater and pianist / arranger Roberto Navarro directed the recording. Johnny Rivera and the excellent Alfredo "Tito" González share lead vocals and experienced sidemen Eddie Montalvo and Sal Cuevas occupied the conga and bass chairs respectively. Rivera departed to join Conjunto Clásico and following two albums with them, signed with Ralph Mercado's RMM label to pursue a successful solo career. Standout cuts include "Bandolera" arranged by the revered José Febles. The remaining charts were written by Navarro and baritone sax player Vincent Vélez Jr.. Navarro teamed up with José "Kokie" Colón, a composer and guitarist who possessed another vital ingredient: money. They organised the band Típica '88, which included the Fascinación personnel Pete Nater, Ivan "Palomita" Conde, Tito González, Eddie Montalvo, Sammy "Timbalón" Pagán and Lionel Román for the superb En La Feria De La "Salsa" (Cotona Records, 1988), which has yet to be reissued. Fascinación briefly reformed in the mid-'90s and there is talk of a reunion. Let's hope so. A word to the wise: grab all three Fascinación CDs!
Highly Recommended.

See also:
Fascinating Sounds
Tiburón
All have great sound, and are highly recommended.
Category: Salsa/Son => Timba
ORDER TL-22174.10 CD Add to My Shopping Cart

Grupo Fascinación, Tiburón
CD (Rico Records 906),Released 1985;Re-Issued 2006;
**Classics Revisited**
Tiburón is the follow-up to Fascinating Sounds (Rico Records, 1983) by this electrifying young New York salsa band, and not reissued until now. Key founder members, trumpeter Pete Nater, currently a member of the Grammy winning Spanish Harlem Orchestra, and pianist / arranger Roberto Navarro, acted as the album's recording directors. Navarro arranged the outstanding title track co-written by lead singer Johnny Rivera and the late Ivan "Palomita" Conde, Fascinación's tres guitarist and known for his distinctive timbre as a coro singer. Palomita takes notable tres solos on "Tiburón" and "Cosas De Mi Tierra", arranged by today's leading salsa pop producer Sergio George. Sammy "Timbalón" Pagán took over the bongo chair on Tiburón and the band's final Rico outing Salsa Vice (1986). You should really scoop-up all three Fascinación CDs, but if you can only manage one, start with Tiburón.
Highly Recommended.

See also:
Fascinating Sounds
Salsa Vice
All have great sound, and are highly recommended.
Category: Salsa/Son => Timba
ORDER TL-22173.10 CD Add to My Shopping Cart

Grupo Fascinación, Fascinating Sounds
CD (Rico Records 902),Released 1983;Re-Issued 2006;
**Classics Revisited**
This exciting young New York salsa band of the '80s was distinguished by good musicianship, enthusiastic attack and some great arrangements. Their 10-piece line-up featured a frontline of three trumpets and baritone sax. They recorded only three albums, Fascinating Sounds (1983), Tiburón (1985) and Salsa Vice (1986), all on Ralph Cartagena's Rico Records label, which have not been reissued until now. Core founder members included trumpeter Pete Nater, currently a member of the Grammy winning Spanish Harlem Orchestra, pianist / arranger Roberto Navarro, who worked previously as the musical director of the Ray Barretto spin-off band Guararé, baritone sax player / arranger Vincent Vélez Jr., tres player / corista Ivan "Palomita" Conde and bassist Abiud "Humpy" Troche. The band's lead singer for four years was future salsa romántica star Johnny Rivera, who had earlier recorded with Los Rodríguez. Richie Bastar, the son of the legendary percussionist and bandleader Kako who later joined El Gran Combo in 2001, plays bongo and cowbell on Fascinating Sounds. Standout cuts include "Siembra", arranged by Louie Cruz, and "El Campesino", arranged by José Madera. Be wise, don't just buy one Fascinación CD, purchase all three!
Highly Recommended.

See also:
Tiburón
Salsa Vice
All have great sound, and are highly recommended.
Category: Salsa/Son => Salsa
ORDER TL-22172.10 CD Add to My Shopping Cart

Grupo X, Food For Your Latin Soul
CD (Loft 0002),Released 2006;
Formed in 1996 by trombonist/composer Jonny Enright, UK-based Grupo X fuse the hard-edged sound of '60s and '70s Latin New York with contemporary British urban soul to create Latin soul for the 21st century. Over the years the band have supported the West Coast-based percussionists Johnny Blas, Bobby Matos and Jack "Mr Bongo" Costanzo, Cuban pianist Alfredo Rodríguez, vibes legend Dave Pike, and salsa dura's trombonist-in-chief Jimmy Bosch, who described the band as "totally kick ass"; truly an endorsement of their world-class calibre. Grupo X are at the top of their game on Food For Your Latin Soul, the much-anticipated follow-up to their highly rated debut album X-Posure (Loft Recordings, 2001). Packed full of 11 original compositions, one of highlights for me is "Que Suene La Banda", co-penned by Jonny and the track's lead vocalist Carlos Peña. Taking the lion's share of lead vocals is UK house star Lisa Millett, whose compelling voice puts the soul into the Latin soul. Co-writer of seven cuts is the band's timbalero Jimmy Le Messurier, a bandleader in his own right (check out his 2002 CD Salsa Feeling by Jimmy Le M & La Clave Londres on International).
Add Grupo X's tasty fare to your Latin diet.
Highly recommended.
Category: Salsa/Son => Salsa International
ORDER TL-21682.10 CD Add to My Shopping Cart

Henry Fiol, Fé, Esperanza Y Caridad
CD (SAR/Guajiro 1012),Released 1990;
**Classics Revisited**
Fe, Esperanza y Caridad was Henry's 1980 solo debut on the SAR label, formed the previous year by Sergio Bofill, Adriano García and singer, bandleader, percussionist and composer Roberto Torres, who produced the project. And what a band?! Alfredo Valdés Jr. on piano, Alfredo "Chocolate" Armenteros on trumpet, plus Puerto Rican tres guitar virtuoso Charlie Rodríguez; with bassist Russell "Skee" Farnsworth (who'd worked with Ricardo Ray in '60s) arranging the six extended tracks. Included is Henry's sublime rendition of "Oriente", composed by one of his idols, the Cuban sonero Cheo Marquetti (1909-1967), and featuring a delicate piano solo by Valdés Jr.. Re-listening to the album reminded me of my Descarga.com interview with Sidestepper's Richard Blair in 2000, who described Fe, Esperanza y Caridad as "absolutely devastating", and went on to say: "There's an English engineer friend of mine who's a big big fan, he's not into salsa, but he played that record every day for a week, just for the sound of it. And they are as heavy as any Led Zeppelin record." Exactly.
Category: Salsa/Son => Salsa
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Ismael Miranda, Asi Se Compone Un Son
CD (Fania 437 / 509043),Released 1973;
[Only a few left in stock. Once it's gone, it's gone. - Ed. ]
In 1973 singer Ismael Miranda split from Orchestra Harlow, taking three of Larry Harlow's sidemen with him to his own newly formed Orquesta Revelación. His Fania debut with the band, Así Se Compone Un Son, was a big hit and is one of his finest solo albums to date. Personnel included several future prominent salsa names, such as timbalero Nicky Marrero, tres guitarist Nelson González and pianist Oscar Hernández, currently leader of the Grammy winning Spanish Harlem Orchestra. "I was 18 years old and we recorded one album and worked our butts off for about one year," recollected Oscar in New York Latino in 1991.
Very highly recommended.
Category: Salsa/Son => Salsa: Classic 1960s Or 1970s New York
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Ismael Quintana, Ismael Quintana
CD (Vaya 30),Released 1974;Re-Issued 1995;
[Only a few left in stock. Once it's gone, it's gone. - Ed. ]
**Classics Revisited**
Sonero, composer and hand percussionist Ismael "Pat" Quintana was a founder member of Eddie Palmieri's Conjunto La Perfecta, with whom he has done some of his finest work. He made two previous solo albums for United Artists, Punto y Aparte '71 and Dos Imágenes '72, but switched to the Fania subsidiary Vaya to re-launch his solo career with the album Ismael Quintana in 1974. He composed half of the material including the hit "Mi Debilidad", featuring a fine piano solo from Mark "Markolino" Dimond, who also plays on Quintana's composition "Triago La Llave" and "Mai Biandita", written by Tite Curet Alonso. Papo Lucca plays piano on the remaining five tracks, and solos on "La Blusita Colora", arranged by Bobby Valentín, who also wrote the charts for "Mi Debilidad" and "No Lo Dejes Asi". Further solos are taken by trombonist Barry Rogers ("Mi Debilidad"), tres player Harry Viggiano ("Triago La Llave"), guest conguero Ray Barretto ("Tambo [Me Acompaña El]") and Luis "Perico" Ortiz ("Mai Biandita"). This CD is a must-have.
Highly recommended.
Category: Salsa/Son => Salsa: Classic 1960s Or 1970s New York
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Johnny Cruz, Ray Ramos & Johnny Cruz: El Rey Del Son Montuno
CD (Tiffany Records 893143),Released 2014;
Editor's Note: the below review from John Child was originally posted for the release of (now discontinued) "Salsa De Puerto Rico Para El Mundo Entero" cd. However, the comments provided seems to apply, to a good extent, to this new release...
"Mellow voiced Ray Ramos is one of my favourite singers. Sadly underrated, this Nuyorican sonero and gifted composer got a significant break in 1978 when he was recruited to the popular William Millán y Saoco, providing co-lead vocals to their last three albums. He went on to form a trumpet-led sonora with a distinctively subtle and swinging style, releasing five albums between 1983 and 1993. I was fortunate to see Ray Ramos y su Sonora perform a memorable gig at Manhattan’s Copacabana in October 1987. 'Salsa De Puerto Rico Para El Mundo Entero' compiles 10 tracks from the Saoco releases 'Curare' (1978), 'Papa Montero' (1979) and 'El Quinto' (1981) and six cuts from Ray’s first two solo albums on Yuma Records: 'Ray Ramos y su Sonora' (1983) and 'Salsa Tracks' (1985). (I provide this information as the CD insert is typically sparse.) 'Salsa Tracks' has been Ray’s most successful album to date, figuring in the Billboard salsa chart in ’85 and spawning the hit 'Leal' (the opening track on this compilation). During the mid-’90s 'Leal' enjoyed renewed popularity in the Colombian market, both at home and abroad." (John Child, 99/00 Catalog)
Category: Salsa/Son => Salsa
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La Charanga America, The Very Best
CD (Combo 2042),Released 1985;Re-Issued 1998;
**Classics Revisited**
After two yet to be reissued albums for Top Hits (TH), Comiendose A Nueva York (1980) and Charanga America (1981), Charanga America continued with two LPs on Ralph Cartagena's Combo label: Y Algo Mas (1983) and The Very Best (1985), both reissued in 1998. Contrary to the impression given by the title, The Very Best is not a compilation but an album in its own right. Three members of the Maysonet clan participated in the session: founder / leader George on conga, his misses Margie on vocals and son Elliot on timbales. Eminent names involved in the project were singer Jorge Maldonado, violinist / arranger Eddie Drennon, violinist Anthony Blea and pianist / arranger Roberto Navarro, taking time out from Grupo Fascinación, of which he was a founder member. Navarro and Drennon shared the arranging chores, with the latter writing the charts for the outstanding cuts "Conquista Mayor" and "Chiquilla Perfecta" as well as nicely reworking The Doors and José Feliciano hit "Light My Fire" for the charanga format. Navarro impresses with his chart for the swinging "Pentagrama De Amor". Fans of Drennon's soloing skills will not be disappointed by his outings on "Corre Pinto" and "Mi Tierra", both arranged by Navarro. While still active, Charanga America currently only have one other album after The Very Best to their name: 1989's Siempre Con Sabor! on El Abuelo, also featuring Elliot Maysonet. In 2005 Elliot fronted The Salsa All Stars on Mi Puerto Rico (Sabrosura Records), which he co-produced with Pablo "Chino" Nuñez.
Highly recommended.
Category: Dance Traditions => Charanga
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La India De Oriente, La India De Oriente
CD (SAR/Guajiro 4004),Released 1992;
**Classics Revisited**
No not Ms. Caballero, the young hip-hopper turned salsa-pop artiste known as La India, but singer Luisa María Hernández, who had just turned 60 when the phenomenal success of the SAR label briefly revived her career in the 1980s. Born in El Cobre, in the province of Cuba formerly known as Oriente, she became "La India de Oriente" at the beginning of the 1940s. She worked in radio and TV and performed with names like Trío La Rosa, Barbarito Díez, Celia Cruz and Julio Gutiérrez before relocating to the USA in 1960. She made two albums for the Gema label, Guajiras y Décimas and another with Julio Gutiérrez y sus Guajiros. Between 1980 and 1982 Luisa María recorded three wonderful albums for the SAR sister label Guajiro, ¡Desde El Cobre Con Amor!, La India de Oriente and Buenos Dias Africa, and sang lead vocals on one track in SAR All Stars Interpretan A Rafael Hernández '81 on SAR. Her final outing was La Reina de la Guajira '85 on the SAR descendant Caimán. The anthology La India De Oriente collects four tracks each from ¡Desde El Cobre Con Amor! and Buenos Dias Africa. Most of the SAR house band were on the sessions, including trumpeters Alfredo "Chocolate" Armenteros and Leonel Sánchez, bassist Marino Solano, bongosero Juan Méndez, tres player Charlie Rodríguez and conguero Alberto Valdés. Alfredo Valdés Jr. played piano and cast all the arrangements in the characteristic rootsy SAR mould of extended tracks with plentiful soloing opportunities. A mystery flautist, using the pseudonym El de la 7, played on ¡Desde El Cobre Con Amor! and someone called Raúl Sabor, which sounds like another false name, played flute on Buenos Dias Africa. Gorgeous stuff.
Highly recommended.
Category: Salsa/Son => Son, Guaracha, Guajira
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Laba Sosseh, Laba Sosseh
CD (SAR/Guajiro 1029),
**Classics Revisited**
Along with Mali's Boncana Maïga and Amadou Balaké, Senegalese singer and composer Laba Sosseh was an early pioneer of the tradition of Africans journeying to New York to record with Latin musicians. In 1980 he worked on Salsa Africana Vols.1, 2 and 4 with Monguito El Unico for Aboudou Lassissi's legendary Sacodis label. During the next two years the SAR label put out Roberto Torres Presenta A Laba Sosseh (SAR 1020; 1981) and Laba Sosseh (SAR 1029; 1982). Were they recorded concurrently or during different trips Sosseh made to the Big Apple? I don't know. All five albums are worthy additions to your collection, but I have singled out the 1982 release Laba Sosseh because of the inclusion of two of his trademark numbers: "Aminata", which he remade with Africando for 1998's Baloba! on Stern's, and "Diamoule Mawo", which Joe Arroyo reinvented as "Yamulemao" for his 1987 album Echao Pa'lante on Fuentes. There are no musician credits on the CD reissue, but several of the usual SAR All Star suspects are there taking solos, such as pianist Alfredo Valdés Jr., trumpeter Alfredo "Chocolate" Armenteros and tres player Charlie Rodríguez. Definitely highly recommended.
Category: Salsa/Son => Salsa
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Linda Leida, Con Sabor A Montuno
CD (SAR/Guajiro 1005),Released 1991;
**Classics Revisited**
One of those rarities in salsa, a woman singer, Linda Leida began her solo career in the mid-'70s with Aqui Esta Linda on TR Records, followed by Electricando Linda on TR in 1978 produced by Tito Puente, whose band she performed with for a brief period. "Tito always went through a period, every once in a while, where he would have a thing for having a female singing in the band. Most of the things that we performed with her were older arrangements to which Héctor Rivera had added saxophone parts," reveals Puente's former musical director José Madera, whose currently musical director of the Latin Giants of Jazz.
Born in Villas, Cuba, earlier in her career she sang lead vocals on the track "Afro Cha" (composed by Lou Pérez) on Willie Rosario's third album Latin Jazz Go Go Go (1964 on BMC and reissued on Neliz in 1998). Con Sabor A Montuno was Linda's third outing and the fifth release on the new SAR label co-founded in 1979 by Sergio Bofill, boss of the premier 10th Avenue Latin record distributor GB Records, Adriano García and Roberto Torres, who produced the album. Torres assembled a classic two-trumpet conjunto lineup for the date featuring trumpeters Chocolate and Lionel Sánchez, Papaíto (1925-2000) on bongo, Victor Trías on tres guitar and the legendary Lino Frías (d April 1983, NYC) on piano. Lino, who was also a composer and arranger, had retired from La Sonora Matancera in 1977 because of arthritis after 35 years with the great Cuban musical institution and this was probably his final recording session. Papaíto was a serving member of La Sonora Matancera at the time of the recording, having first worked with them in 1960. Befitting SAR's house style of stretching out Cuban son montunos, guajiras and guaguancos with plenty of space for soloing, the six selections on Con Sabor A Montuno include the classic son montunos "La Alegría Del Montuno" and "Oye Como Suena" by Pío Leiva (known as "El Montunero de Cuba"), and "Anita" by Compay Segundo and Lorenzo Hierrezuelo. Lino contributes exquisite solos to "La Alegría Del Montuno" "A Comer Chicharrón" and "Ay! Que Tiene El".
Linda made a further three albums, Linda Leida '80 on SAR, Linda Leida 1982 on Sacodis and Linda Leida y La Bahia '84 on Caimán, before she met an untimely end when she was murdered in the late 1980s. Highly Recommended.
Category: Salsa/Son => Son, Guaracha, Guajira
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Louie Ramirez, Tipico
CD (WS Latino 4098),Released 1973;Re-Issued 1998;
**Classics Revisited**
Originally released in 1974 on UA Latino (a division of United Artists), Típico (meaning typical, rootsy salsa) is one of Louie's strongest albums. The album contains two numbers he later recycled. "Feo Como El Oso" became "Feo Pero Sabroso" sung by Tony Vega on 1987's Louie Ramírez y Super Banda on Faisán Records, and the title track was wryly remodelled into the hit "Salsa Romántica" performed by Carlos "El Grande" Ferrer on Louie's El Genio (1989 on L & T Records). The jewel of the date is the first of two Arsenio Rodríguez covers on the album, "Tocoloro (Tocoro)", with a stunning violin solo from a young Alfredo de la Fé; the second is "Caminanate Y Labori". Unfortunately I have to return to my regular gripe about there being no personnel credits on the CD reissue, so I make amends below.
Highly recommended.
Category: Salsa/Son => Salsa: Classic 1960s Or 1970s New York
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Maña, ¡Por Fin…Maña! Comenzó La Fiesta
CD (Maña/RR 001),Released 2007;
The Bronx-based band Maña were co-founded in 2001 by New York salsa stalwarts Ray Rosado and Victor Maldonado. Ray is the longtime composer, arranger, chorus singer and hand percussionist with the Bronx-based pianist and bandleader Wayne Gorbea and Victor has played percussion with the likes of Gene Hernández' Orquesta Novedades, Yomo Toro, Tito Nieves, Miles Peña and Johnny Ray. "Maña's mission is to continue the salsa dura tradition, doing their part to keep it alive, with original material as well as covers," says Ray.
After a break of two days I listened to Por Fin for a third time, and discovered that "Azucaré" and " Comenzó La Fiesta", both written and arranged by Ray, had already insinuated themselves into my system. Then Ray's re-working of the Arsenio Rodríguez classic "Monte Adentro" hit me! Ray is a cunning fox, because the album is real grower, and this is the knack of his arrangements. They imperceptibly get under your skin. Maña's sound can be reminiscent of Wayne Gorbea, but that is no bad thing and not surprising in view of Ray's creative input to Wayne's bands over the years. Deep swing (to borrow Peter Watrous's apt expression) pervades.
There should put an advisory sticker on the CD case saying "Guaranteed to be addictive after just three plays!!" I'm going to put it back on again...
Very highly recommended.
(Read the complete unedited review here)

Category: Salsa/Son => Salsa
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Mario Ortiz, ¡Dejenme Soñar!
CD (Rico Records 909),Released 1986;Re-Issued 2001;
**Classics Revisited**
Oomph! Just listen to Mario Ortiz's relentlessly swinging arrangement of "Ella" and you'll want to buy ¡Dejenme Soñar! just on the strength of this track. But there are more highlights to come. For instance, check out the title cut composed by Ramón Rodríguez of Conjunto Clásico fame and the jamming "El Fieston", written by award winning composer Johnny Ortz, featuring a conga solo from Isidro Pérez. As usual, Mario wrote all the charts and retained the 15-piece line-up with four trumpets and four saxes he used on his preceding album Ritmo Y Sabor (Rico Records, 1985).
Very Highly Recommended.

See also:
Algo Diferent
Ritmo y Sabor
Vamos A Gozar
All have great sound, and are highly recommended.
Category: Salsa/Son => Salsa=> Puerto Rico
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Mario Ortiz, Ritmo Y Sabor
CD (Rico Records 907),Released 1985;Re-Issued 2001;
**Classics Revisited**
A fantastic swinging arranger and described as "one of the all-time great trumpet players" by his former first trumpeter, the great trumpeter, arranger, composer, producer and bandleader Elías Lopés, Mario Ortiz followed-up his 1984 hit Vamos A Gozar (Rico Records) with another outstanding album, Ritmo Y Sabor. Mario expanded the band from 13 to 15 pieces by adding another vocalist / hand percussionist and a baritone sax to his frontline of alto and tenor saxophone and four trumpets. Anthony Cruz and Primi Cruz again share lead vocals. No filler. Standout cuts for me include "Amor Estudiantil", "Me Quedare Solito" and "Lola". The band really lets loose on the last track with Mario taking a soaring trumpet solo. Very Highly Recommended.

See also:
¡Dejenme Soñar
Algo Diferente
Vamos A Gozar
All have great sound, and are highly recommended.
Category: Salsa/Son => Salsa=> Puerto Rico
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Mario Ortiz, Vamos A Gozar
CD (Rico Records 903),Released 1984;Re-Issued 2001;
**Classics Revisited**
In my 1999 top 25 review of Willie Rosario's Nuevos Horizontes '84 on Bronco, I described the album as belonging to an exciting period of robust swinging salsa in Puerto Rico dominated by various precision drilled dance bands. Well, the orchestra of trumpeter, arranger and producer Mario Ortiz, who died in November 1999, was one of the frontrunners. During the '60s, he led a 14 to l6-piece orchestra, called the All Star Band, and recorded with them on the Rico Vox and Remo labels. He participated in Kako's 1963 historic Latin jam session recording, Puerto Rican All-Stars Featuring Kako on Alegre, and in the '70s Puerto Rico All Stars albums. He also recorded for El Gran Combo's EGC label and Borinquen Records in the '70s. In the first half of the '80s, Mario appeared on four of Rosario's albums. He signed to Ralph Cartagena's Rico Records and scored a hit with his exceptional 1984 debut on the label, Vamos A Gozar. The 13-piece band on the album comprised of four trumpets, two saxophones (alto and tenor), bass, piano, timbales, bongo, conga and three vocalists. Mario wrote all the arrangements and played trumpet, as did his son, Mario Ortiz Jr.. Anthony Cruz and Primi Cruz shared lead vocals, and salsa superstar to be, Gilberto Santa Rosa, acted as artistic assistant and sang in the chorus. It's an all round strong album, however "La Gordita", "Los Soneros" and "Vamos" stand out as personal favourites. Mario went on to make a further six albums for Cartagena between 1985 and 1991, of which, Ritmo y Sabor (1985) and ¡Dejenme Soñar! (1986) are also definite must-haves. His prolific work as an arranger included charts for Roberto Roena's Apollo Sound, Julio Castro, Santa Rosa, Conjunto Clásico, Puerto Rican Power, Pedro Conga, Tony Vega, José Alberto, Ray de la Paz and Moncho Santana.
Very Highly Recommended.

(2004-05-28; revised November 2006)
See also:
¡Dejenme Soñar
Ritmo y Sabor
Algo Diferente
Category: Salsa/Son => Salsa=> Puerto Rico
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Markolino Dimond, Beethoven's V - Markolino Dimond & Frankie Dante
CD (Fania Codigo 509003),Released 1975;Re-Issued 2010;
When I used to help out in London’s specialist Latin record store Mr Bongo, I occasionally selected customers for what I called the 'Mark Dimond test' to measure how much of a hardcore salsa fan they were. If their response was along the lines of: 'Wow! I’ve gotta have this CD,' then it gave me a clue about what other titles to recommend. Dimond’s recording career was shortlived but priceless - comprised of only a couple of albums with Willie Colón, Héctor Lavoe’s debut LP, sessions on Ismael Quintana and Andy Harlow albums and three solo projects. 'Beethoven’s V' was his penultimate solo release, typified by his haunting, yet driving, two trombone/ one trumpet conjunto sound and exquisitely crafted piano solos. Dimond composed five songs and wrote all but one of the album’s tasty jazz inflected arrangements. Salsa music authority John Storm Roberts described him as a 'one of the finest younger generation pianists in salsa' in the UK’s Melody Maker in 1976. Shortly after this merited acclaim, according to several accounts, Dimond relocated to Florida, where he did not seem to be particularly active on the Latin recording scene. He sadly died in the late ’80s.
Category: Salsa/Son => Salsa: Classic 1960s Or 1970s New York
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Monguito, Lo Mejor De Monguito
CD (SAR/Guajiro 1002),Released 1991;
**Classics Revisited**
After arriving from Cuba (via Mexico), the Afro-Cuban sonero Monguito made his New York album debut on 1963's Primitivo on Roost singing lead vocals with the conjunto of the legendary Arsenio Rodríguez (see the Classics Revisited review). He went on to work with the likes of Johnny Pacheco's Nuevo Tumbao, Herbie Mann, Tico All-Stars and Larry Harlow before making four solo albums on Fania between 1967 and 1971. After a period of low output during the '70s, he made a major comeback in 1979 with Yo No Soy Mentiroso, the second release to come out of the newly formed SAR stable. This album marked the beginning of a highly productive five year period during which he worked on various productions for the Ivory Coast based Sacodis label and the SAR sister label Toboga. Lo Mejor De Monguito includes all six tracks from Yo No Soy Mentiroso, recorded when producer Roberto Torres and arranger Alfredo Valdés Jr. were creating the mould of the SAR house style of stretched-out tracks with oodles of space for soloing, and four cuts from 1982's Monguito El Unico on Toboga. In addition to Valdés Jr. on piano, other featured SAR All-Stars are trumpeter Alfredo "Chocolate" Armenteros, tres player Charlie Rodríguez and conguero Alberto Valdés. Monguito and Valdés Jr. adopted a similar style for the Sacodis productions, the reissue of which are eagerly awaited. In the meantime, lap this up.
Highly recommended.
Category: Salsa/Son => Son, Guaracha, Guajira
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Orlando Cachaito Lopez, Cachaito
CD (Nonesuch 79630),Released 2001;
**Classics Revisited**
By 2000, I was beginning to suffer from chronic Buena Vista Social Club fatigue syndrome. Then in the spring of 2001, along came this intriguing departure by their bassist, Cachaíto, to rekindle my enthusiasm. This was reinforced by seeing the maestro and his ensemble's outstanding performance at the first annual La Linea festival at London's Royal Festival Hall, to coincide with the album's release. It left me feeling even greater admiration for Nick Gold, the producer of Cachaíto; because the World Circuit supremo had successfully managed to shift the taste of BVSC patrons so that they were now getting excited about what was basically a jazz concert with Latin percussion (tinged with DJ culture, dub and other elements). Particularly exhilarating was an extended version of the track "Cachaíto in laboratory", featuring Dee Nasty on turntables and Magic Malik on flute. It was interesting to see Cachaíto and the crew at the second La Linea festival in April 2002, because one year on, the disparate protagonists - including James Brown's legendary sideman Pee Wee Ellis and Aswad's Bigga Morrison - had genuinely gelled together to create a seamless "new descarga" sound. So be sure to add Cachaíto to your CD collection, otherwise you'll be missing out on the genesis of an important experiment in Latin music.
Category: Latin Jazz => Afro-Cuban Jazz=> Cuba
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Orquesta Broadway, Paraiso
CD (Musical Productions 5-6266),Released 1981;
**Classics Revisited**
During 1980 and 1981 Orquesta Broadway personnel, including the group's musical director and flautist Eddy Zervigón and his brothers, violinist Rudy and pianist Kelvin, sessioned on various Roberto Torres productions for the SAR and allied Guajiro and Neon labels. So it is no surprise that some of the SAR flavour and approach spilled-over into 1981's Paraiso (Paradise) produced by Gonzalo Fernández, their fourth and final album for Harvey Averne's Coco label. Sadly this Musical Productions reissue retains neither the original artwork nor the musician credits, which I list below. A la SAR albums of the era, there are six extended tracks, of which "El Bailarin", composed by vocalist Felo Barrio and arranged by Gonzalo, is one of my all time Broadway favourites.
Highly recommended.
Category: Dance Traditions => Charanga
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Pete "El Conde" Rodriguez, Fiesta Con "El Conde" (Limited quantities)
CD (Fania 606),Released 1982;
[Only a few left in stock. Once it's gone, it's gone. - Ed. ]
**Classics Revisited**
I purchased Fiesta Con "El Conde" at the time of its release in 1982, and based on my initial listenings, I was dismissive of the album for the next 23 years. However I was recently caused to re-listen to it, and how wrong I was, because this sophisticated José Febles production is an absolute gem. Febles also arranges throughout and presumably plays trumpet, but I can't have my usual moan about the CD omitting the musician credits, because they were lacking from the original vinyl issue. The composers are credited and include first-rate Puerto Rican names like Tite Curet Alonso, Roberto Anglero, Johnny Ortiz, Kim de los Santos and Jossie León (of Orquesta La Solución). This was the last in Pete's series of solo albums for Fania, and as with the previous four, he used an Arsenio style trumpet-led conjunto. I try to avoid the expression "pushing the envelope", but this is exactly what Febles did on Fiesta Con "El Conde", and then some! Creative and complex arrangements; the occasional well considered solo; all topped-off by El Conde's rich and fluid voice. What more could you want? Clearly my taste wasn't refined enough back in '82.
Highly recommended.
Category: Salsa/Son => Salsa
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Puerto Rico All Stars, Tribute To The Messiah
CD (Combo 1906),Released 1979;Re-Issued 1993;
**Classics Revisited**
Combo's CD reissue of the third Puerto Rico All Stars album Tribute To The Messiah (originally released in 1979 on the Jason label) renders them a largely anonymous aggregation. Odd when you would think that the selling point of an all-star album is the presence of star names! Griping aside, the primary reason I chose to revisit this album is that it is essentially a tour de force by the incredibly talented Jorge Millet (deceased), who wrote all the charts and plays piano. Millet's arrangements of seven familiar Eddie Palmieri numbers imbue them with a completely fresh identity. Thanks to the lead vocalists, who are actually credited, calling out the names of musicians, it is possible to identify some of the outstanding soloists, for instance, Millet on "Busca Lo Tuyo" and "Justicia", trumpeter Juancito Torres on "Bomba Del Corazón" and "Justicia", timbalero Endel Dueño on "Puerto Rico", bassist Polito Huertas on "Oyelo Que Te Conviene" and bongosero Manolito González on "Justicia." Producer Frankie Gregory extracts fine performances from the six lead singers, including a 15-year-old Gilberto Santa Rosa rising to the challenge of interpreting "Busca Lo Tuyo", originally sung by Cheo Feliciano on Eddie's album Champagne (1968 on Tico). Lalo Rodríguez reprises "Oyelo Que Te Conviene", which he first recorded with Eddie on Unfinished Masterpiece (1976 on Coco).
Highly recommended.
Category: Salsa/Son => Salsa=> Puerto Rico
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Raphy Leavitt Y Orquesta La Selecta, Somos El Son
CD (Bronco 139),Released 1986;Re-Issued 1995;
**Classics Revisited**
This is another highlight from the mid-'80s era of roaring Puerto Rican salsa, to which, Willie Rosario's Nuevos Horizontes '84 on Bronco, Mario Ortiz's Vamos A Gozar '84 on Rico, Mulenze's Con Pocas Palabras Basta '84 on Bronco and Bobby Valentín and Cano Estremera's En Acción '84 on Bronco, also belong. La Selecta was organised in 1971 by pianist, arranger, composer and producer Raphy Leavitt, comprising of trombones and trumpets, rhythm section (conga, bongo, timbales, cowbell, güiro, bass, and piano), and voices (lead and chorus). The orchestra made nine albums for Borinquen Records between 1971 and 1979, and three for T H (Top Hits) Records between 1981 and 1983, before recording a pair of albums for Bobby Valentín's Bronco label in 1986 and 1988. Their Bronco debut, Somos El Son, was outstanding, and helped them garner Farándula magazine's Diplo award for "Band of the Year" in 1987. Raphy hired talented arranger / pianist Isidro Infante to write half the charts, with La Selecta founder member Sammy Marrero and Carlitos Ramírez (who joined in 1981) providing lead vocals. Notable cuts include "El Que No Abona", arranged by Julio "Gunda" Merced, and the title track arranged by Infante.
Category: Salsa/Son => Salsa=> Puerto Rico
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Ray Perez, Lo Mejor De Ray Perez
CD (Discomoda 9414),Released 1995;
Back in stock!
Purveyor of gritty, funky ’bones dominated salsa, pianist, arranger and composer Ramón ‘Ray’ Pérez was born on Christmas Day 1938 in Barcelona, Venezuela. He grew up listening to Cuban and Puerto Rican radio. He founded Los Dementes (The Demented) in La Trinidad, Maracaibo, Venezuela, and relocated the band to the nation’s capital, Caracas, in 1965. Over the years he has also led bands called Los Calvos, Los Kenya and Grupo Casabe. 'Lo Mejor De Ray Pérez' is an anthology of early hits including the classic 'No Salgas De Tu Barrio.'
Category: Salsa/Son => Salsa Colombia=> Colombia
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Rene Bloch Orchestra, Mambos & Pachangas
CD (Tumbadora Records 934569),Released 2010;
Contains the complete tracks from the albums "Mucho Rock" and "Mambos & Pachangas."
**Classics Revisited**
Born in Los Angeles of French Jewish descent, reeds player René Bloch was arguably "El Judio Maravilloso" of the West Coast Latin scene during the late '50s and early '60s. At age 17 he joined the Johnny Otis band and contributed a notable alto solo to the leader's first big hit "Harlem Nocturne" in 1945. Following stints with various swing bands, Pérez Prado recruited René as his band manager and lead alto player in 1952. After six years with Prado he departed and made his recording debut as the leader of an 18-piece band with Mucho Rock for the Andex label (10 tracks were later reissued as The Latin Moods of René Bloch on Famous). Don't be deceived by the title, because the contents comprise of mucho swinging big band mambo with a touch of cha-cha-chá, bolero and wa-pa-cha. Bloch's sound is distinct from Prado's and the only tracks that betray his apprenticeship with old Seal Face (Prado was nicknamed "El Cara de Foca") are "Frenesi" and, to a certain extent, "Raunchy" and "Cha-Cha-Stroll". Standout cuts include the mambos "Stop-When-Swinging", "René's Mambo", "Harry's At One" and "One More", all featuring velvety alto solos from René. Pianist Roberto Gil takes solos on "More Mambo" and "One More". One of the band's four-trumpet section solos on "Paul's Mambo" and the rollicking "Magitos", also featuring a timbales solo. Could this be from Willie Bobo?, who, along with Mongo Santamaría, are credited as members of the five-piece rhythm section. Willie and Mongo would have been part of Cal Tjader's seminal West Coast-based group at the time. Bloch, Gil and Paul López handled the arrangements. López, a prolific trumpeter, composer and arranger on the West Coast at the time who worked with Noro Morales, Jack Costanzo, Machito and others, wrote the bulk, weighing-in with 10 arrangements as well as nine compositions. Ironically, he is not credited as playing on the album. He went on to work on Bloch's next four albums between 1959 and 1962.
Highly recommended.
Category: Dance Traditions => Mambo, Cha Cha Cha, Pachanga
ORDER TL-24232.10 CD Add to My Shopping Cart

Richie Ray, Ricardo Ray Arrives / Comejen
CD (Disco Hit / Fonseca 2000),Released 1966;Re-Issued 1996;
**Classics Revisited**
Brooklyn-born Ricardo Maldonado Morales, better known as Ricardo or Richie Ray, teamed up with Puerto Rican-born Roberto Cruz Felicano (Bobby Cruz), seven years his senior, in 1963. After initially recording with vocalist/composer Bobby for Seeco Records, the multi-talented and inventive Ray made five albums for Fonseca Records in the mid-'60s. The duo recorded some of their very finest work during their period with the label. "Comején", the title track of Ray's 1964 Fonseca debut Ricardo Ray Arrives / Comején, was a hit. Co-written by Ray and Cruz, the number features a tasty piano solo from Richie. The album includes their first recording of the outstanding "Mambo Jazz", which the two performers later reworked. "Viva Richie Ray" is a driving descarga showcasing a jazz inflected solo from Richie, a powerhouse trumpet solo, I'd guess from Richie's younger brother Ray Maldonado, and a conga solo. "Brother Ray", described as a Monkey Twist is a Mongo Santamaría-style Latin-jazz-funk fusion piece written by Ray Maldonado, who went on to join Mongo's group in 1967. Considering it calls itself a guajira blues, Richie not surprisingly gives his piano solo a bluesy tinge on "El Mulato". This Ray-Cruz co-composition number shifts up a gear two-thirds the way through, and fades during an appetising trumpet solo. "Suavito", credited to the composer María A. Gómez, employs a similar tempo change trick midway through. A further solo from Ramón (Ray Maldonado) distinguishes the second part of the song. This album is undoubtedly a gleaming classic.
Very highly recommended.
Category: Salsa/Son => Salsa: Classic 1960s Or 1970s New York
ORDER TL-15492.10 CD Add to My Shopping Cart

Richie Ray, On The Scene With Ricardo Ray
CD (Disco Hit 1368),Released 1990;
**Classics Revisited**
Salsa's beatific duo, Richie Ray and Bobby Cruz, celebrated their 40th anniversary in 2003. After making their earliest recordings for Seeco Records, Ray signed with Fonseca Records. The five albums his orchestra made for the label during the mid-'60s contain some of the duo's strongest recorded work. Ray's Fonseca follow-up, On The Scene With Ricardo Ray, has a more restrained feel to it than its predecessor Ricardo Ray Arrives / Comején. Richie's ingenious piano soloing is again very much to the fore, as is his younger brother Ray Maldonado's trumpet playing. The jala-jala "Yenyere", co-written by Richie, is the most boisterous track with blistering trumpet pyrotechnics from Maldonado. Richie gives the Rafael Hernández standard "Cachita" a jazzy makeover. The extended cha-cha bembé "La Cuchara" features a funky solo from Richie - during which the coro shout "El Piano de Brooklyn" - followed by a brief bass solo from Russell "Skee" Farnsworth. The gem of the date for me is a delightful version of Bud Powell's "Parisian Thoroughfare", which changes midway through from a cool Latin jazz piece to a driving mambo. On The Scene is a solid gold classic.
Very highly recommended.
Category: Salsa/Son => Salsa: Classic 1960s Or 1970s New York
ORDER TL-11038.10 CD Add to My Shopping Cart

Ruben Blades, Bohemio Y Poeta
CD (Fania Codigo 509011),Released 1979;Re-Issued 2010;
"Before he became a movie star/Harvard lawyer/Panamanian politician, Blades made some terrific recordings for Fania, and this is one of them. Many folks now take him for granted, but his singing and wonderful songwriting place him in the pantheon of the greatest Latin artists." (George De Stefano, 94/95 Catalog)

Rubén had achieved superstar status in the salsa world when Fania decided to put out this anthology of his important early recordings made for the stable between 1975 and 1978 with Ray Barretto, the Fania All Stars, Willie Colón and Louie Ramírez. Essential, particularly if you don't own all the albums the tracks originate from.
Highly recommended.
Category: Salsa/Son => Salsa: Classic 1960s Or 1970s New York
ORDER TL-1998.10 CD Add to My Shopping Cart

Ruben Blades, Siembra
CD (Fania Codigo 502109),Released 1978;Re-Issued 2010;
The big one! Willie and Rubén's record-breaking bestseller Siembra made them a new force, with Blades' compositions "Pedro Navaja" (perhaps his most famous song: a reworking of "Mack the Knife") and "Plástico" (a critique of artificial and shallow lifestyles and a call for Latino unity, hope and freedom) proving that salsa need not be formulaic escapism.
Very highly recommended.
Category: Salsa/Son => Salsa: Classic 1960s Or 1970s New York
ORDER TL-280.11 CD Add to My Shopping Cart

Santiago Ceron, Tumbando Puertas: Luis "Perico" Ortiz Presenta A Santiago Ceron
CD (Salsa International 722),Released 1980;Re-Issued 1994;
**Classics Revisited**
I remember Tumbando Puertas being good, but when I went back to it: WOW! Perico was definitely at the top of his game when he produced and directed this solo debut project for the smoky-voiced Dominican, Santiago Ceron, who had relocated to New York in 1963. There he had worked with Arsenio Rodríguez (see the Classics Revisited review for Arsenio Rodriguez Y Su Conjunto, Vol. 2 on Ansonia), Pete "El Conde" Rodríguez, Johnny Pacheco, Tony Pabón and others, before the opportunity arose to make Tumbando Puertas. Perico assembled an impressive group of musicians for the session, including Héctor "Bomberito" Zarzuela and himself playing trumpet; Lewis Khan on trombone; Eric Figueroa, piano; Eddie "Gua Gua" Rivera, bass; Charlie Rodríguez, tres; Luis Mangual, bongo and campana; Angel "Cachete" Maldonado, conga; and Héctor Casanova and Ramón Rodríguez playing hand percussion and singing coro.
The repertoire of songs reflects the típico revival that was underway in 1980 by reworking classics such as Ignacio Piñeiro's "Lindo Yambú", featuring a shimmering tres solo by Charlie Rodríguez, and Los Compadres' "Vendedor de Agua", arranged by José Febles, which both became trademark hits for Ceron. In addition, Ramón Rodríguez and Charlie Rodríguez each contribute an original number composed in a typical style, "No Hay Amor" and "Bienvenido" respectively, for which Eric Figueroa wrote the charts. Tumbando Puertas went gold at the time, and Perico produced, contributed arrangements and performed on Ceron's next two releases, Navegando en Sabor '80 and Canta si va' Cantar '81.
Highly recommended.
Category: Salsa/Son => Salsa: Classic 1960s Or 1970s New York
ORDER TL-13527.10 CD Add to My Shopping Cart

The Salsa All Stars, The Salsa All Stars
CD (Salsa International 2007),Re-Issued 1994;
**Classics Revisited**
I sold another 'Alegre All-Stars' session to Ismael Maisonave, then president of Salsa Records, a division of his Mary Lou label. The session included a great composition and arrangement by Louie Ramírez, which I entitled 'Descarga de Cueros y Vientos' and 'Descarga en 'K'' written and arranged by Pupi Legarreta. The recording was in mono and I had to convert it to pseudo-stereo. I happened to go to Executive Studios owned by my old friend Gene Sayet, where he had a machine - a magic machine I call it - that you put a mono tape through and it came out fake stereo, but a fantastic fake stereo. And that Salsa All-Stars (1968) on Salsa Records is that fake stereo, and I have got compliments from people telling me that's the best mix I've ever done.
(Al Santiago talking to John Child in the mid-1990s)
Category: Salsa/Son => Salsa: Classic 1960s Or 1970s New York
ORDER TL-13176.10 CD Add to My Shopping Cart

Vladimir And His Orchestra, New Sound In Latin Jazz
CD (Alegre 8540),Released 1966;Re-Issued 1993;
[Only a few left in stock. Once it's gone, it's gone. - Ed. ]
"This is my idea of Latin jazz from the genre’s golden era (’50s and ’60s). The reissue CD gives the original release year as 1971. I disagree. The catalog number is consistent with a release around 1966. Commenting on the album’s boogaloo inspired number, Charlie Palmieri points out in his liner notes that: 'This album was done just as the Latin boogaloo trend erupted.' This also ties the record in with a circa 1966 release. Charlie’s lengthy notes explain that pianist/composer Vladimir Vassilieff hailed from Belgium. After relocating to Canada, then Boston, he led his own band in New York. Vladimir wrote and arranged the entire album, which features a serious lineup of cats including Bobby Rodríguez on bass, Mexican trumpeter Manny Duran, altoist/flautist Bobby Porcelli, timbalero Phil Newsum (of Orchestra Harlow fame) and vocalists Ismael Quintana and Santos Colón. My favourite cuts include 'Chonga,' 'Mambito' and 'St John’s Guaguancó,' which all swing like hell. New Sound In Latin Jazz used to be a rare Latin groove in the UK, changing hands for large sums of money. Even the Japanese limited edition vinyl reissue of the early ’90s retailed for about $50! Now it’s available for all at a reasonable price."
Category: Latin Jazz => Latin Jazz
ORDER TL-12839.10 CD Add to My Shopping Cart

Willie Colón, El Malo
CD (Fania Codigo 509112),Released 1967;Re-Issued 2011;
Willie's 1967 debut album El Malo for Fania marked the beginning of his carefully cultivated bad guy image that he sustained until the mid-'70s. The album's recording director, Fania co-founder Johnny Pacheco, bought Héctor Lavoe in to sing lead vocals. And of course, the pairing of Willie and Héctor turned out to be a winning combination. Highlights include the mambo jazz instrumental "Jazzy" and the title track.
Highly recommended.
Category: Salsa/Son => Salsa: Classic 1960s Or 1970s New York
ORDER TL-3524.10 CD Add to My Shopping Cart

Willie Colón, Siembra
CD (Fania Codigo 502109),Released 1978;Re-Issued 2010;
The big one! Willie and Rubén's record-breaking bestseller Siembra made them a new force, with Blades' compositions "Pedro Navaja" (perhaps his most famous song: a reworking of "Mack the Knife") and "Plástico" (a critique of artificial and shallow lifestyles and a call for Latino unity, hope and freedom) proving that salsa need not be formulaic escapism.
Very highly recommended.
Category: Salsa/Son => Salsa: Classic 1960s Or 1970s New York
ORDER TL-280.10 CD Add to My Shopping Cart

Willie Rosario, A Man Of Music
CD (Bronco 145),Released 1987;Re-Issued 1995;
**Classics Revisited**
Willie Rosario's crack lead vocal team of Gilberto Santa Rosa and Tony Vega departed after his previous album, the Grammy-nominated Nueva Cosecha (1986 on Bronco), so eyes (and ears) were trained on Willie and his young producer Humberto Ramírez to see if they would meet the challenge of maintaining the band's dazzlingly high standards on 1987's A Man Of Music. They did not disappoint, because the choice of songs, quality of arrangements and the calibre of lead vocalists Pupy Cantor (ex-Libre) and Josué Rosado are all spot on. This album also marked the introduction of material by the Venezuelan composer, singer and percussionist Alfreddy Bogado that he had originally written for the album La Calle (1985 on Sonotone; yet to be reissued on CD) by the septet of the same name. Here arrangers José Febles and José Lugo adapt "Poco A Poco" and "A Maina" from La Calle's instrumentation of trombone, violin, vibes, rhythm section and voices to Rosario's trademark four trumpet / baritone sax format to create two of the bandleader's classic hits. Willie further delved into the material on La Calle to cover the Bogado compositions "Si No Estas Conmigo" (arranged by Lugo) and "Te Regalo Esta Cancion" (arranged by Febles) on The Salsa Legend '88, and "Esta Cosa Mia" (arranged by Febles) on Viva Rosario! '90. Yet another track from La Calle, "Cualquier Cancion" composed by Chico Buarque, was arranged by Febles for Willie's 30th anniversary album Unique '89. So the moral of this brief tale is: get A Man Of Music, and while you're at it, treat yourself to The Salsa Legend, Unique and Viva Rosario!.
Category: Salsa/Son => Salsa=> Puerto Rico
ORDER TL-14034.10 CD Add to My Shopping Cart

Cano Estremera, Diferente
CD (Combo 2126),Released 1999;
"Alumnus of the sophisticated Puerto Rican salsa orchestras Mulenze and Bobby Valentín, sonero Carlos (Cano) Estremera first ventured out on his own in 1986. Two years later he topped the 'Billboard' tropical/salsa chart with 'Salvaje! 88' on his own CEG label. Bucking the salsa romantica trend, his subsequent four albums were largely overlooked. As suggested by its title, 'Diferente' marks a stylistic change. With the help of producer, pianist and arranger Eric Figueroa, he's taken on board the popular Victor Manuelle/Sergio George sound - and makes in really kick ass!"
Category: Salsa/Son => Salsa=> Puerto Rico
ORDER TL-17220.10 CD Add to My Shopping Cart

Francisco Buckley "Bush", Lo Mejor De Bush Y Su Nuevo Sonido ****
CD (Salsa International/Epoca 001 (OS6)),Re-Issued 1996;
"As with several other largely forgotten names, Bush y su Nuevo Sonido has got the international Colombian salsa market to thank for their raised profile during the ’90s. Two songs in particular, 'La Chola Caderona' and 'Mariana Soba,' became popular in the early ’90s and started appearing on Colombian various artists’ compilations of both dubious and legitimate origin. Both tunes - gems of raw and funky salsa - appear on this commendable collection. 'La Chola Caderona' was even covered by the Colombian band La Sonora Carruseles on their 1997 album 'Con Más Salsa…' on Fuentes/ Salsa Productions. This isn’t just a two hit compilation however, because there is plenty more for lovers of gritty and swinging salsa to enjoy on the CD. For the uninitiated, conguero Bush (real name: Francisco Buckley) founded his group in Panama in 1967 and recorded nine albums over the ensuing years. The lineup included various frontline combinations including two trumpets and violin. Just to prove their best material wasn’t all collected on 'Lo Mejor de Bush y su Nuevo Sonido, Volume 2' (TL-16619), released in 1998, is also very good."
Category: Salsa/Son => Salsa International=> Panama
ORDER TL-15289.10 CD Add to My Shopping Cart

Grupo Niche, Historia Músical, Vol. 1 & 2
CD (Combo 1932-1),Released 1988;
"Jairo Varela, who is Niche, treats his compositions as metamorphic creatures. This is understandable with bands who use numbers as jumping-off points for improvisation, but Niche is Colombia’s leading generator of tightly arranged dance music - only allowing the occasional space for a solo. Rather than tweak and enhance the arrangements of original recordings just for live performances, Varela takes the current incarnation of Niche into the studio to immortalise the new versions. 'Historia Musical' was Varela’s first comprehensive make-over job of 16 of his self-penned songs from the band's 1981 to 1986 repertoire - the second major overhaul was '12 Años' (Sony Tropical 80950/2) in 1993. This two CD set is distinguished by the wonderful plaintive voice of Puerto Rico’s Tito Gómez (ex- Sonora Ponceña, La Terrifica, Ray Barretto, etc) and presence of Venezuelan trombonist César ‘Albóndiga’ Monge, who transcribes Varela’s arrangement ideas. Albóndiga formerly directed Dimensión Latina, the band which catapulted Oscar D’León to fame in the early ’70s. After 'Historia Musical' most of the band walked-out on Varela and adopted the name Los Niches."
Category: Salsa/Son => Salsa Colombia=> Colombia
ORDER TL-4754.10 CD Add to My Shopping Cart

Jimmy Bosch, Salsa Dura
CD (Ryko 1007),Released 1999;
"Another album whose title accurately describes its contents. The smokin' follow-up to Jimmy's internationally successful solo debut 'Soneando Trombón.' Soneros of choice, Frankie Vázquez and Herman Olivera, provide lead vocals."
Category: Salsa/Son => Salsa
ORDER TL-17571.10 CD Add to My Shopping Cart

Orquesta Mulenze, Con Pocas Palabras Basta...
CD (Bronco 131),Re-Issued 1995;
"This was my introduction to these Puerto Rican champions of swinging, sophisticated jazz tinged salsa. The album was released during the height of the mid-’80s salsa swing era, being contemporary with swing classics like Willie Rosario’s 'Nuevos Horizontes' on Bronco and Mario Ortiz’s 'Vamos A Gozar' on Rico. The reissue of 'Con Pocas Palabras Basta…', their first on Bobby Valentín's Bronco Records, omits all the personnel credits provided on the original vinyl release. So here’s a little bit of detail on the album and background to the band. Mulenze is a salsa orquesta with a lineup of two trumpets, two trombones, rhythm section and three vocalists led by bassist/producer Edwin Morales (aka Edwin Mulenze). Over the years, Morales has more or less consistently shown exceptionally good - and hip - taste in the choice of material, commissioning of arrangers and selection of singers. The glorious voice of sonero Pedro Brull is a key delight of Mulenze. Brull sings magnificently on the outstanding track 'No Te Vayas Todavia,' written by prominent Puerto Rican composer Pedro Arroyo and arranged by ex-Willie Rosario pianist/arranger Javier Fernández. Fellow co-lead vocalist, Kenny Cruz, does a superb job on the title track. If, as I experienced, 'Con Pocas Palabras Basta…' gives you the Mulenze bug, you’ll want to collect all their releases."
Category: Salsa/Son => Salsa=> Puerto Rico
ORDER TL-14202.10 CD Add to My Shopping Cart

Papaito, Rinde Homenaje A A. Barroso
CD (SAR/Guajiro 1014),Released 1990;
"Renowned as a percussionist with the legendary Cuban musical institution La Sonora Matancera, Papaíto was given the opportunity to make five solo albums as a sonero for the prolific SAR label between 1979 and 1984. He demonstrated that he possesses an engaging bittersweet voice, which he effortlessly employs in his inspiraciones. His third release, 'Papaíto Rinde Homenaje A Abelardo Barroso,' a tribute to the great Cuban singer/composer Abelardo Barroso (1905-1972), was among one of the best to come out of the SAR stable. On the album, Papaíto fronts a small charanga augmented by a tres guitar. And what a charanga! Pupi Legarreta and Alfredo de la Fé, violins; Felo Barrio, timbales and coro; Roberto Torres, güiro and coro; Alfredo Valdés Jr., piano and arrangements; Alberto Valdés, conga; and Charlie Rodríguez, tres. I wonder who the celebrity flautist hiding behind the pseudonym 'El De La 7' was? I’m keeping my guess to myself. Papaíto and the band deliciously glide through six extended interpretations of songs associated with Barroso and La Orquesta Sensación, including 'El Guajiro de Cunagua,' 'En Guantánamo' and the Arsenio Rodríguez classic 'Bruca Maniguá'."
Category: Salsa/Son => Salsa
ORDER TL-10570.10 CD Add to My Shopping Cart

Ray Perez, Lo Mejor De Ray Perez
CD (Discomoda 9414),Released 1995;
"Purveyor of gritty, funky ’bones dominated salsa, pianist, arranger and composer Ramón ‘Ray’ Pérez was born on Christmas Day 1938 in Barcelona, Venezuela. He grew up listening to Cuban and Puerto Rican radio. He founded Los Dementes (The Demented) in La Trinidad, Maracaibo, Venezuela, and relocated the band to the nation’s capital, Caracas, in 1965. Over the years he has also led bands called Los Calvos, Los Kenya and Grupo Casabe. 'Lo Mejor De Ray Pérez' is an anthology of early hits including the classic 'No Salgas De Tu Barrio.' I’d bet that in addition to El Loco Ray, Perucho Torcat is featured on lead vocals. Although not in the Descarga catalog yet, 'Los Dementes/ El Tiempo Pasa,' 'Pero Mi Salsa Llegó' (Palacio 66651), 1995, is a commendable compilation of Ray’s later hits featuring singer Teo Hernández."
Category: Salsa/Son => Salsa Colombia=> Colombia
ORDER TL-14114.10 CD Add to My Shopping Cart

Tipica Ideal, Charangas! The Best Of Tipica Ideal
CD (WS Latino 4158),Released 1995;
"Arguably Típica Ideal’s 1976 album 'Vamonos Pa' Senegal/Para Bailar Y Gozar' stands at the junction between the earliest encounters between African and Latin musicians and the successful Africando series of collaborations in the 1990s. The album’s musical director was Cuban flautist Gonzalo Fernández, who collaborated with Senegal’s Le Grand Kalle and Cameroonian Manu Dibango on the historical1969 African Team album recorded in Paris. Among Ideal’s sidemen for the date was tenor saxist/violinist Jose 'Chombo' Silva, who later sessioned on the first two Africando albums. Furthermore, Ideal targeted their material at the African market and toured there. In fact I found my copy of Vamonos Pa' Senegal/ Para Bailar Y Gozar in Afric’ Music, a specialist African music shop in Paris. The album, their second on the Artol label, was arranged by co-leader and pianist Gil Suárez, an ex-Orquesta Broadway member. Providing co-lead vocals was fellow co-leader Victor Velázquez, who’d worked with Charlie Palmieri, Louie Ramírez, the Alegre All-Stars and others. In addition to Gonzalo, former Eddie Palmieri and Conjunto La Perfecta sideman George Castro played flute. Chombo contributed superlative solos to the standout Suárez compositions "Vamonos Pa’ Senegal" and "Para Bailar Y Gozar," on sax and violin respectively. While we await a separate reissue, these two songs and five other tracks from Vamonos Pa' Senegal/ Para Bailar Y Gozar have been compiled together with five cuts from Ideal’s first Artol album on the commendable ¡Charangas! The Best of Típica Ideal. (I provide all this detail as there is a paucity of information on the CD insert. Though there are some useful recording dates given.)"
Category: Dance Traditions => Charanga
ORDER TL-14172.10 CD Add to My Shopping Cart

Tito Rodriguez, Estoy Como Nunca
CD (WS Latino 4129),Released 1968;Re-Issued 1993;
"It’s not easy to pick just one of Tito’s many albums. However I’ve plumped for 'Estoy Como Nunca,' made for United Artists Latino only five years before his tragic death from leukemia prematurely curtailed his 34 year career. A monster big band line-up of four trumpets, five saxes, four trombones and five piece rhythm section, including future Libre leader Manny Oquendo, was assembled for the date with René Hernández and Ray Santos sharing arranging chores. And of course there’s the magnificent voice of Tito Rodríguez. 'He was just an incredible artist, a great vocalist. He was el sonero mayor,' stated Eddie Palmieri in 1988 in the 'San Juan Star.' (Eddie occupied the piano chair with Tito’s band from 1958 to 1960.) The album contains some of Tito’s finest numbers, such as the title track, 'Buscando La Melodia' (co-written by Marcelino Guerra), and one of the best versions of Guillermo Rodríguez Fiffe’s classic 'Bilongo,' all arranged by Hernández. Manny, fresh from a five year stint with Eddie Palmieri’s Conjunto La Perfecta, takes a stunning, yet succinct, bongo solo on 'Empego Naroco,' also arranged by Hernández. The recording quality is also top notch - well it sounds good on the Venezuelan vinyl pressing I picked up in Caracas in the mid-’80s."
Category: Dance Traditions => Mambo, Cha Cha Cha, Pachanga
ORDER TL-13995.10 CD Add to My Shopping Cart

Wayne Gorbea, Cogele El Gusto
CD (Shanachie 66013),Released 1997;
"How many albums do you know where every track is a gem? Well this is such an album. A longstanding exponent of what they now call salsa dura (hard salsa), pianist Wayne took his band Salsa Picante into the studio to make 'Cogele El Gusto' after a successful two month residency at Manhattan’s González y González club. Initially released in early 1997 on his own small Wayne Go label, 'Cogele El Gusto' became an instant hit in UK Latin clubs. Added exposure via airplay on specialist radio shows, rave reviews and high placings in various disc jockey charts - together with all-important word of mouth - propelled the growing ranks of Salsa Picante converts into record stores to demand the CD. Sadly lack of supply meant they walked out disappointed. Fortunately Shanachie came to the rescue in 1998 to give 'Cogele El Gusto' wider distribution. In March 1999 Wayne and Salsa Picante completed a sellout seven date UK tour, providing further testimony of their popularity."
Category: Salsa/Son => Salsa
ORDER TL-15876.10 CD Add to My Shopping Cart

Willie Rosario, Nuevos Horizontes
CD (Bronco 128),Re-Issued 1995;
"If Manny Oquendo & Libre are New York’s university for Latin music’s future luminaries, I would posit that the Willie Rosario band is the leading contender in Puerto Rico. Those graduating from his band have included singers Frankie Figueroa, Junior Toledo, Guillo Rivera, Primi Cruz and ’90s superstars Tony Vega and Gilberto Santa Rosa, pianist Alfredo Rodríguez, trumpeter/musical director David ‘Piro’ Rodríguez and trumpeter, arranger, composer and producer Humberto Ramírez. During the 40 plus years of Willie’s career as a bandleader, the mid-’80s were definitely a peak - and I believe 'Nuevos Horizontes' was the apex of this peak. There was an explosion of robust swinging salsa in Puerto Rico at the time dominated by the precision drilled dance bands of Rosario, Tommy Olivencia, Bobby Valentín and others. 'Nuevos Horizontes' epitomises the excitement of this era for me. However this is not to suggest the album sounds dated. Not at all. It sounds as fresh today as in 1984. Ironically Willie partly used 'Nuevos Horizontes' to pay homage to an earlier age of swinging Latin music by covering the classic mambos 'Chango Ta Beni' and 'Babarabatiri,' both given a thoroughly modern make-over. There is also a delicious cover of 'Lluvia' by Adalberto Alvarez, the Cuban composer leaders like Willie, Roberto Roena, Papo Lucca and Louie Ramírez were hip to at the time. We’re told salsa swing is on the return. If so, then this album deserves to become an icon of this revival."
Category: Salsa/Son => Salsa=> Puerto Rico
ORDER TL-14054.10 CD Add to My Shopping Cart



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