|Back To My Roots|
|Dance, Dance, Dance|
|On Our Way To Tomorrow|
|Johnny's No Good|
|Es Un Demonio Ella|
|Mambo Rock (Theme from "Salsa")|
|Joe Cuba's Latin Hustle|
The years between the late '60s and the mid-'70s were a very special time for the neighborhood of New York known as the Spanish Harlem, or El Barrio. A new generation of American musicians, most of them of Puerto Rican origin, were influenced by rock, psychedelia, funk, disco, r&b and the tropical formats of the Spanish speaking Caribbean. It was an exciting time for music, and El Barrio was fertile ground for the creation of a new sound: salsa, boogaloo and Latin Soul exploded like a shooting star.
Latin Disco is the more genre-specific of the discs, with lushly orchestrated dancefloor scorchers by Orquesta Novel and Louie Ramírez.
|You Need Help|
|Everybody's Got Soul|
|Pantaloncitos Calientes (She Got To See What She Got To Get What She Wants)|
|I'm Gonna Get To You Yet|
|There You Go|
|I Got The Feeling (Tengo Sentimiento)|
|Kool It Here Comes The Fuzz|
The man who reputedly became the most widely recorded conguero in jazz, Ray Barretto was born in Brooklyn in 1929. He decided to become a musician after hearing Chano Pozo playing with Dizzy Gillespie on the groundbreaking Latin jazz track “Manteca.” After ousting Mongo Santamaría from Tito Puente's band in 1957, he became one of the most requested musicians of the time, performing with the house bands of the Prestige, Blue Note and Riverside labels-- all at the same time. He branched out as a bandleader in 1961, and the following year became the first Latin artist to score a Billboard Top-20 hit with the song “El Watusi.” After signing with the Fania label, he recorded a string of progressive minded albums, culminating with the monster Latin funk hit "Together (Juntos)," an anti-racism anthem sung by Barretto himself.
MONGUITO SANTAMARIA ¬- YOU NEED HELP
The son of Afro-Cuban conga hero Mongo Santamaría, Monguito should not be confused with the vocalist of the same who recorded with Johnny Pacheco. He released three killer albums, beginning with the boogaloo heavy Hey Sister and culminating with En Una Nota. The most requested of the three is Blackout, which still sells for about $100 in the collector's market. Performed by Ronnie Marks, "You need Help” is culled from that record.
JOE BATAAN ¬- I'M SATISFIED
Born in 1942 in Spanish Harlem, Joe Bataan turned to music after a spell in jail for driving a stolen vehicle. Credited for his contribution in starting the Latin soul craze of the late '60s, he enjoyed a string of hits such as “Ordinary Guy," “Gypsy Woman” and “Subway Joe.” The heavy funk track “I'm Satisfied” was included in the 1970 LP Sweet Soul, and also released as a limited edition 45 rpm promo. In 1995, Bataan returned to the music industry after 20 years of working with juveniles in correctional facilities throughout New York. Ten years later, 30 years after his last album had come out, he released an album titled Call My Name.
CAFE ¬ - IDENTIFY YOURSELF
Café's obscure, self-titled 1974 LP on the Vaya label is something of a mystery. Produced by Ray Barretto, the record fuses Latin funk with rock and salsa. A highlight is the instrumental “Identify Yourself,” arranged by bandleaders Daniel Zaremba and Jeff Chaumont.
FLASH AND THE DYNAMICS ¬- EVERYBODY¹S GOT SOUL
A psychedelic funk group led by George Espada, Flash and the Dynamics released only one album, which is highly sought out. Released on the Tico label, The New York Sound included the track “Everybody's Got Soul,” one of the rawest slices of Latin funk ever heard. After the band split up, Espada worked as a professional wrestler before becoming a Republican district leader in the East Harlem area.
GILBERTO CRUZ - ¬ HOT PANTS (SHE GOT TO USE WHAT SHE GOT TO GET WHAT SHE WANTS )
Taken from the 1971 album Chanchullo on the Tico label, Gilberto Cruz's version of James Brown’s "Hot Pants (She Got To Use What She Got To Get What She Wants)” is a perfect fusion of Latin and funk. Pressed as a flexidisc in limited quantities, Chanchullo has eluded Latin funk collectors for years. It was Cruz's debut, and it featured Sammy Ayala on vocals, Vincent Prudente on trombone, Junior Vega on trumpet, Andy Vega on vibes, Ray Armando on drums, Teddy Vatapool on bass, and Willie Rodríguez on congas.
MONGO SANTAMARIA ¬- BLACK DICE
No Latin funk compilation would be complete without a Mongo Santamaría track. During the '70s, the percussionist recorded at least one killer funk track per album. “Black Dice” is from Live at Yankee Stadium, which also featured a much sampled drum break on “Coyulde.” Ramón 'Mongo' Santamaría was born in 1922 in Havana, Cuba. After moving to the U.S. in the '50s, he played with Tito Puente and scored a national hit with his version of Herbie Hancock's “Watermelon Man.” He is also known as the composer of the Latin jazz standard “Afro Blue.”
HARVEY AVERNE ¬ - DYNAMITE!
What a treat. Harvey Averne's amazing “Dynamite!,” coupled with the previously unreleased “Stablishment” (yes, the spelling is correct.) Averne began his career as an accordionist, learned to play the vibes from Larry Harlow, and then recorded a series of crossover albums for Fania Records in the Latin soul, funk and boogaloo genres. Later, he founded his own label, Coco Record. “Dynamite!” is culled from the 1968 session The Harvey Averne Dozen.
TNT BOYS -¬ I'M GONNA GET TO YOU YET
The TNT Boys were Tony Rojas and Tito “Big T” Ramos. They recorded a series of albums for Cotique in the late '60s and early '70s before disbanding and launching reasonably successful solo careers. Tito Ramos had a massive hit with “Big T,” from the album Where My Head Is At on Fania Records, whereas Tony Rojas recorded for Rico Records. ”I'm Gonna Get To You Yet” is from Símbolos Sexuales / Sex Symbols on Cotique. This 1969 album also featured the “Tighten Up” soundalike “Música Del Alma,” as well as the heavy descarga “Jala Jala.” It is still regarded as their rarest LP.
FANIA ALL STARS ¬- THERE YOU GO
The Fania All Stars featured a mixture of bandleaders and musicians from the Fania Records stable in a series of concerts from 1968 onwards. The band's first couple of albums, Live At The Red Garter, Volumes 1 & 2, were slow sellers. Live At The Cheetah, Volumes 1 & 2, on the other hand, became the biggest selling concert albums ever produced by one Latin group. In 1974, Latin Soul Rock bucked the trend with one side recorded live, this time at Yankee Stadium, and the other one devoted to studio recordings. It is from this side that we chose a cover of Edwin Starr's “There You Go.”
RALFI PAGAN ¬- LA VIDA
Vocalist Ralfi Pagán was raised on the lower East side of New York, and was a key part of the '70s salsa movement. He released four albums with Fania, most of which contained ballads such as the Bread cover “Make It With You.” “La Vida" is taken from the psychedelic funk album I Can See.
CHOLLO RIVERA AND THE LATIN SOUL DRIVES ¬- I GOT THE FEELING/TENGO SENTIMIENTO
Produced by Cotique label boss George Goldner, the only release by Chollo Rivera and the Latin Soul Drives is a classic slice of Latin soul and boogaloo. This version of James Brown's “I Got The Feeling” has been on DJ want lists for a long time. The record itself sold poorly, even though it was pushed heavily by New York's leading Latin DJ Dick Ricardo Sugar, who wrote the liner notes of the original LP.
SEGUIDA ¬ - FUNKY FELIX
Latin rock big band Seguida released two albums with Fania during the '70s-- both produced by Larry Harlow. Entitled Love Is....Seguida, the first one contains “Funky Felix,” along with other Latin funk, rock and soul tracks. Released in 1976, On Our Way To Tomorrow embraced the burgeoning New York disco sound and is an underrated gem. After 30 years of inactivity, the band recently reunited to record Seguida III for its own, independent label.
JIMMY SABATER ¬- KOOL IT
Legendary timbalero Jimmy Sabater was featured on what is considered by many to be the first salsa record ever: Joe Cuba's Stepping Out, from 1962. He was born in New York to Puerto Rican parents and grew up in the same neighborhood as Tito Puente and Willie Bobo. Sabater was an essential part of the Joe Cuba group until 1979-- he even wrote the smash “Bang Bang.” From the 1970 Tico LP El Hijo De Teresa, we chose the heavy funk instrumental “Kool It.” Sabater is still active in music, currently performing with the Spanish Harlem Orchestra.
AZUQUITA Y SU ORQUESTA MELAO ¬ - GUAJIRO BACAN
Luis Camilo Argumédez Rodríguez was born in Panama and nicknamed Azuquita (Little Sugar) at the beginning of his career, his voice is as sweet as sugar. He lived in Puerto Rico and trained with legendary sonero Ismael Rivera before moving to New York, where he became a key member of the Fania Records family. Culled from the 1975 album Pura Salsa on the Vaya label, “Guajiro Bacán” is a slow burning funk number. The LP was produced by Bobby Marín and featured Kako, Mauricio Smith, Louie Ramírez, Adalberto Santiago, Jimmy Sabater, Steve Berrios, and Joe Beck.
|Good Times (Como Vamos A Gozar)|
|To Be With You|
|Dance, Dance, Dance|
|On Our Way to Tomorrow|
|My Love Supreme|
|Johnny's No Good|
|Es Un Demonio Ella|
|Mambo Rock (Theme from "Salsa")|
|Joe Cuba's Latin Hustle|
Latin disco was the logical step forward following the emergence of Latin funk, which had evolved from boogaloo and Latin Soul. Throughout the '70s, the musicians and DJs who grew up in New York were exposed to a variety of influences. When the disco era reached its apex, it was inevitable that the Latin scene would be influenced by it. The Fania label was at the forefront of this hybrid, with musicians such as Tito Puente, Louie Ramírez and Joe Bataan leading the way. El Barrio: Latin Disco includes anthems by the movement's heavy hitters, as well as lesser known gems and rare grooves.
LA CHARANGA 76 – GOOD TIMES (COMO VAMOS A GOZAR)
Formed in 1976 by Cuban güiro player Felipe Martínez, and featuring the vocals of Hansel Martínez & Raúl Alfonso (who would later become the famous duo of Hansel & Raúl), Charanga 76 is known mostly for its Latin versions of disco hits. Listening to their unique take on McFadden & Whitehead’s “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now” and Chic’s “My Forbidden Lover” was a real eye opener for me back in the '80s. It is only fitting that the opening track of this compilation would be the Latin disco gem "Good Times."
JIMMY SABATER – TO BE WITH YOU
Born to Puerto Rican parents in the heart of El Barrio (Spanish Harlem) between 112th Street, 5th & Madison Avenue, Jimmy Sabater was taught percussion by Willie Bobo and Tito Puente. He helped form the Joe Cuba Sextet in 1954. Even though it was named after Gilberto Calderón - or Joe Cuba, as he was known in the music world - the group was very much a unit. It was hastily named just before a show by Catalino Rolón, a promoter at the legendary Palladium ballroom, when he was told that the band had still to be named. Jimmy Sabater was the combo's timbalero. In 1962, he was offered the chance to sing the track “To Be With You,” because he had a better English accent than the band's lead vocalist, one José ‘Cheo’ Feliciano. Sabater stayed with Cuba for 23 years, working also with such luminaries as Eddie Palmieri, Tito Puente, Johnny Pacheco and Tito Rodríguez. This heavy disco version of “To Be With You” was produced by Bobby Marín and released in 1976. It features a great break around the first third of the track, becoming a staple for disco and hip hop DJs all over the world.
ORQUESTA NOVEL – DANCE, DANCE, DANCE
Led by Afro-Cuban pianist Willie Ellis, Orquesta Típica Novel was formed in New York City during the '60s, performing mostly as a charanga and boogaloo group. Its debut album, Do the Boogaloo, came out in 1967 on the Fonseca label. The orchestra released a series of records with TR, before signing with Fania in the mid '70s and shortening its name to Orquesta Novel. Notable members have included Eddie Drennon, Ray Maldonado (the brother of Ricardo Ray), Alfredo ‘Chocolate’ Armenteros, Jimmy Bosch, Mauricio Smith, Néstor Torres, and Louie Ramírez. The 1980 session Novel Invites You To A Novel Experience was devoted entirely to the disco sound. A cover of “My Cherie Amour” on this album has been used by the likes of Dimitri from Paris and other electronica heavyweights. Here, we decided to include a less obvious choice - the Eddie Drennon composition “Dance Dance Dance,” which will work up a storm in any dancefloor.
SEGUIDA – ON OUR WAY TO A BETTER TOMORROW / MAMBO ROCK
Formed from the ashes of two high school bands from the South Bronx - Latin Soul Inc. and Devoshun - Seguida was brought together by Randy Ortiz, a local arranger and rock bassist. He led the band together with percussionist Angel Nater Jr. and guitarist Louie Pérez. Support slots with Willie Colón, Ray Barretto and Larry Harlow led to a deal with Fania Records. Seguida's critically acclaimed debut, Love is..., was released in 1974 and contained the crossover hit “Mambo Rock.” The song would become the theme tune to Izzy Sanabria’s Salsa television show, which featured Seguida as the house band. After touring with Sly & the Family Stone, War and Crown Heights Affair, the band embraced the emerging disco sound on its sophomore effort, On Our Way To Tomorrow. We've picked the album's title track - a killer song. Seguida has recently reformed, releasing Seguida III on its own label.
LTG EXCHANGE – WATERBED
The lineup of LTG Exchange included Bruce Slade (congas, vocals), Melvyn Barton (bass, vocals), Walter Chiles (keyboards, vocals), Víctor Santos (drums, vocals), and Kevin Beverley (Guitar). The group is known for its two hits: “Corazón,” a cover of the Carole King standard, and the sublime “Waterbed.” Originally released by Fania Records in 1974, it was later extended at Bell Sound Studios, NYC, for a 12” release on Disco International. This limited edition is now a highly prized collector’s item, selling for large amounts of money on internet auction sites.
MILTON HAMILTON CRYSTALISED – MY LOVE SUPREME
Milton Hamilton was a music teacher at the Third Street Music School Settlement, confusingly located on East 11th Street, New York, when he formed Yambú with colleague Ramón Rodríguez. Their self-titled 1975 debut was a heady mix of Latin, soul, jazz, rock and disco - enjoying a hit with a “hustle” version of Bobby Hebb’s “Sunny.” This record is sought after by beat junkies for the massive break on “Hippopotamus.” It was also a groundbreaking part of the jazz-dance scene with DJ Bob Jones making “A New Thing” one of his biggest dancefloor tunes. In 1976, Milton formed his solo group, Milton Hamilton Crystalized. He released the great Disco Madness album, featuring “My Love Supreme” and covers of “Poinciana” and “Theme from Mahoghany.” “My Love Supreme” was released on 7” format and immediately hit the Billboard disco charts. There is also an extremely rare promo 12” DJ Copy with the full 5.10 minutes version of the tune.
LOUIE RAMIREZ – BAD LUCK / SALSA
Legendary bandleader, percussionist, pianist, composer, arranger and producer Louie Ramírez barely needs an introduction for anyone with even the slightest interest in Latin music - he is a living legend. During the '50s, he played with Joe Loco, joining the Joe Cuba group the following decade. Louie was the arranger and timbalero on the classic Jazz Espagnole album by Sabú Martínez. He was co-leader of the Alegre All Stars with Charlie Palmieri, Kako and Al Santiago - as well as staff producer and arranger with the Fania group of labels, and president of Alegre Records throughout the '70s and '80s. Louie caught the disco bug and recorded a great album titled A Different Shade of Black. It was released in 1976 on Cotique. The album featured contributions from Bernard Purdie, Cornell Dupree, Johnny Rodríguez, Randy Ortiz, Marty Sheller, and Sonny Bravo, and it is famed among record collectors for the funky “Do It Any Way You Wanna.” Here, we have included the smooth disco grooves of “Bad Luck” and “Salsa.”
TITO PUENTE – WATU WASURI
Taken from the 1974 Tico album Tito Unlimited, “Watu Wasuri” was one of the earliest disco flavored records to emerge from New York. Tito played virtually all of the instruments on this recording - the only other credit went to producer Joe Cain. He performed vibes, piano, electric piano, mellotron, tambourine, marimbas, organ, tympany, cowbells and assorted percussion. Born in the Bronx to Puerto Rican parents in 1923, Puente formed The Piccadilly Boys in 1948 and spearheaded the '50s mambo craze, which reached an apex in 1956 with his classic LP Dancemania. Puente would record over 100 albums, enjoying his biggest hit with Santana's ubiquitous version of his composition “Oye Como Va.” Sadly, he passed away in 2000.
W.R.L.C. – JOHNNY’S NO GOOD
The sole album that W.R.L.C. released on the Fania imprint came out in 1975, featuring soft rock and disco versions of classic Fania songs: Willie Colón’s “Che Che Colé” and “Jazzy,” and Johnny Pacheco’s “Acuyeyé.” The disco version of Joe Bataan’s “Johnny’s No Good” is an overlooked guitar groover. The band featured Slim Pezin (guitar), Lucien Dobat (drums), Mamhoud Houari (sax), Patrick Bourboin (flute), Pierre Honoré (bass) and Michel Deverc (violin).
FAUSTO REY / LARRY HARLOW – ES UN DEMONIO ELLA
Made at a time when a growing number of Dominicans were migrating to New York, this collaboration between Latin legend Larry Harlow and the Dominican Republic's Fausto Rey was probably geared towards that market. The album is largely forgettable, with the exception of a disco version of “Devil Woman” - made famous in the UK by Cliff Richard. The track's killer breakdowns would fit in nicely on any dancefloor today.
JOE BATAAN – CALL ME
Taken from the unreleased LP Bataan in San Frantasia, “Call Me” is a cool disco inspired number. It can also be found as the b-side of the “Latin Soul Square Dance” 45 rpm single. Born in Spanish Harlem in 1942, Bataan is credited as a Latin Soul pioneer - fusing Afro-Cuban rhythms with R&B, he came to prominence in the mid '60s with the hits “Gypsy Woman” and “Ordinary Guy.” In the '70s, he recorded a series of excellent albums for Fania, finding the time to produce artists on the Ghetto label and co-found the innovative SalSoul label. It was with SalSoul that he enjoyed a top-10 European hit with the crossover rap-disco track “Rap-o Clap-o.” After spending 20 years counseling juvenile delinquents, he returned to the music scene with a new album, and continues touring to this day.
LOU PEREZ – AFRO HUSTLE
Of the 15 albums that Lou Pérez recorded under his own name, De Todo un Poco is by far the most famous one. Why? Simply because the title track was used in the movie Dirty Dancing. Sad but true. Also included on this album was the uptempo disco bomb “Afro Hustle.” Recorded in 1977, it featured Cuban pianist Ricardo ‘Eddy’ Martínez, Cuban conguero Cándido, and other notable players.
JOE CUBA – JOE CUBA’S LATIN HUSTLE
Joe Cuba formed his group in 1954 and experienced instant success using English lyrics over Latin beats. A pioneer of the boogaloo sound with the hit single “Bang Bang,” he went on to record a number of albums for various Fania related labels. Cocinando La Salsa was the first LP that Cuba recorded for Tico after it had been taken over by Fania co-founder Masucci. He asked Joe to make "a blockbuster salsa album” - and Cuba delivered on all fronts, including stunning tracks like “Ataca de Nuevo” and “Quinteto Sabroso.” The track included on this compilation has a boogaloo/disco feel, featuring the drumming of Alphonse Mouzon. Other notable musicians include Sonny Bravo, Jimmy Sabater and Louie Ramírez.
|Do You Feel It (Tu Lo Sientes)|
|Johnny's No Good|
|Brother, Where Are You?|
|Either You Have It Or You Don't|
|The Main Man|
|New York Soul|
|Si Dame Tu Amor|
|Calle Luna Calle Sol|
|Que Se Sepa|
|Puerto Rican Soul|
|Red Garter Strut|
|Measure For Measure|
El Bestial Sonido is the best album in the catalogue of music by Ricardo Ray and Bobby Cruz. It is a must-have for fans of Los Durísimos. Most would agree that in its early New York days, the orchestra saw some of the finest musicians of salsa and jazz. Trumpeters Adolphus Doc Cheatham and Pedro Chapparo, and timbal player Mike Collazo are excellent examples. What is truly indisputable is that the most astounding lineup of the Richie Ray Orchestra was the very one that recorded "El Bestial Sonido" in 1971, confirming what everybody already knew: the best instrumentalists in the history of salsa have been Puerto Rican. El Bestial Sonido de Ricardo Ray & Bobby Cruz is a classic because of the orchestra’s masterful and irresistible interpretations, Bobby Cruz and Miki Vimari’s vocals, and the band’s successful repertoire, which was certainly one of the most stimulating and perfectly balanced of all time. It was musical success that consecrated Richie as the most multifaceted pianist, arranger, composer, and orchestra director of his genre. You only need to hear the first bar of Sonido Bestial to appreciate Richie’s savvy in creating a tapestry of rhythms combining the jala-jala, guaguancó, jazz, and classical music in a solo that evokes the influences of formal European music, with ingenious variations on the melodies of Stravinsky and Bach. Aside from achieving cultural transcendence by integrating distant musical forms, El Bestial Sonido is an album with unquestionable sociological value. In 1971, the country was tormented by the boricua blood being spilled throughout Vietnamese jungles in a conflict that enshrouded hundreds of Puerto Rican families in grief and polarized the country on the question of whether to support the United States in the Vietnam War. Richie Ray and Bobby Cruz strived to console their boricua brothers with the song “Guaguancó Triste” by Rubén Blades. This is a song of hope, with an exceptional arrangement that combines the guaguancó, classical music, the boogaloo, the bomba, and the jala-jala. Even today, the lyrics strike a chord in the hearts and minds of the boricua people: Para ti traigo mi guaguancó Triste es su canto sabor a llanto y a soledad. Puedo oír ecos de un pregonar que hablan de penas y de esperanzas lloran por la tierra mía porque se lleven contentos... At a time when many criticized the superficiality of salsa, Richie and Bobby proved with Blades' composition that they could use music to make people dance – or to make them reflect on life. Another great example is the band’s version of a ballad with hints of soul, blues, and bolero: "Fire and Rain" by James Taylor. Interestingly, this is one of the first songs in the band’s repertoire that alludes to God, the Supreme Being, to whom they would dedicate their talents officially in 1976, beginning with the album Rican/Struction Señor asómate y contempla mi afán Tendrás que ayudarme a otro día afrontar Sólo en mis sueños tengo tranquilidad Es un martirio volver a despertar... However, like other great musicians of the time, Richie and Bobby also paid homage to yoruba deities on countless occasions and, prior to their transformation, they paid tribute to the Saint with Pablito El Indio Rosario’s guaguancó number “Cha cha huele Changó,” at a time when musicians were trying to survive in an atmosphere of jealousy, lies, and hypocrisy. The contributions from Mañengue Hidalgo on the congas, Manolito González on the bongo and hand bell, and Charlie on the timbal are extraordinary. With El Bestial Sonido, Richie and Bobby also stepped to the forefront by being the first to adapt romantic ballads to the genre. One example is Joan Manuel Serrat’s popular song “Señora,” which the band performed without montuno or a refrain. In the band's version, Bobby, a singer influenced by Rafael Chivirico Dávila, reaffirmed –as he did in "Fire and Rain"– that he could shine in other genres. His duet with Miki Vimari in the bolero version of the immortal tango number “Volver” by Carlos Gardel and Alfredo Lepera confirms this. Bobby’s countermelody is exquisite, and in the first few bars of both “Volver” and “La Vimari,” Miki –who had previously collaborated with the band on the albums In Orbit and El Diferente– captures a sensual bossanova that leads into a beautiful son. After Richie's experiments with female vocalists such as Nydia Caro and Carmen Soto, it was clear that Miki was the singer this orchestra had been looking for. Thirty-five years after its original release, El Bestial Sonido de Richie Ray & Bobby Cruz is a must-have, an album worthy of the attention of music lovers around the world. Most importantly, it is an album radio stations should play for younger generations to enjoy. Credits Ricardo Ray: Piano, arrangements, chorus, countermelody Bobby Cruz: Lead vocals, chorus, arrangements Miki Vimari: Vocals, chorus Ismael “Cocolía” Rodríguez: First trumpet Ismael “Maelo” Rodríguez: Second trumpet Manolito González: Bongo, cowbell, timbalitos José “Mañengue” Hidalgo: Conga Charlie “El Pirata” Cotto: Timbals Mike “El Che” Amitin: Bass Recording Director: Johnny Pacheco Producer: Ricardo Ray y Bobby Cruz Recorded at: Ochoa Recording, San Juan, P.R. Engineer: Pedrito Mixed by: Fred Weinberg Original Cover Photo: Maurice Seymour Original Cover design: Izzy Sanabria Written by Jaime Torres Torres “El Bestial Sonido” es el mejor disco de la trayectoria de Ricardo Ray & Bobby Cruz. Es un album obligado para los fanáticos de Los Durísimos. Nadie duda que durante sus primeros años de trayectoria en Nueva York por la orquesta de Richie Ray desfilaron los mejores músicos de la salsa y el jazz. Los trompetistas Adolphus Doc Cheatham y Pedro Chaparro, junto al timbalero Mike Collazo, son buenos ejemplos. Lo que sí resulta indiscutible es que la versión más aplastante de la orquesta de Richie Ray fue precisamente la que grabó “El Bestial Sonido” en 1971, confirmando –como se sabe- que los instrumentistas de mayor virtuosismo en la historia de salsa han sido puertorriqueños. El Bestial Sonido de Ricardo Ray & Bobby Cruz es un clásico por la magistral e irresistible interpretación colectiva de la orquesta, por las vocalizaciones de los cantantes Bobby Cruz y Miki Vimari y por su exitoso repertorio, ciertamente uno de los más excitantes y mejor balanceados de todos los tiempos. Fue el suceso musical que consagró a Richie como el pianista, arreglista, compositor y director de orquesta más polifacético de su género. Baste escuchar el primer corte “Sonido bestial” para apreciar la sapiencia con que Ricardo combina, como una acuarela de ritmos, los patrones del jala-jala, el guaguancó, el jazz y la música clásica, con un solo que evoca las influencias del repertorio formal europeo, con variaciones muy ingeniosas de las melodías de Stravinsky y Bach. Aparte de su trascendencia cultural al integrar formas musicales distanciadas hasta entonces, El Bestial Sonido es un disco de un valor sociológico incuestionable. En pleno 1971 el pueblo era atormentado por la sangre boricua derramada en las selvas vietnamitas en un conflicto que cubrió con el manto del luto a cientos de familias puertorriqueñas y polarizó al país en torno a la discusión de si debía favorecer o desfavorecer la guerra de Estados Unidos contra Vietnam. Richie Ray y Bobby Cruz intentaron consolar a sus hermanos boricuas con la composición “Guaguancó triste” de Rubén Blades. Un canto de esperanza, en un arreglo excepcional que combina el guaguancó, la música clásica, el boogaloo, la bomba y el jala jala, cuya letra hoy resuena fuerte en la conciencia boricua. Para ti traigo mi guaguancó. Triste es su canto sabor a llanto y a soledad. Puedo oír ecos de un pregonar que hablan de penas y de esperanzas lloran por la tierra mía porque se lleven contentos... En una época en que muchos criticaron la salsa por su pobre contenido, Richie & Bobby demostraron con la canción de Blades que se podía tocar para bailar y para reflexionar sobre la vida. Otro buen ejemplo es la versión de la balada con matices del soul, el blues y el bolero “Fire & Rain” de James Taylor, curiosamente una de las primeras canciones de su repertorio en que aluden a Dios, el Ser Supremo al que a partir de 1976, ya de manera oficial, consagrarían sus talentos con el lanzamiento del disco “Reconstrucción”. Señor asómate y contempla mi afán Tendrás que ayudarme a otro día afrontar Sólo en mis sueños tengo tranquilidad Es un martirio volver a despertar... Sin embargo, Richie & Bobby, como otros grandes músicos de la época, también le cantaron a las deidades yorubas en una decena de ocasiones y, previo a su tranformación, con el guaguancó “Cha cha huele Changó” de Pablito El Indio Rosario le rindieron honor al Santo en un tiempo en que los músicos intentaban sobrevivir en un ambiente de mucha envidia, mentira e hipocresía. La ejecución percusiva de Mañengue Hidalgo en las congas, Manolito González en el bongó y la campana y de Charlie en el timbal es extraordinaria. Con El Bestial Sonido Richie & Bobby también marcharon a la vanguardia al ser los primeros que adaptaron a su género éxitos de la balada romántica, como la popular “Señora” de Joan Manuel Serrat, una versión sin montuno y estribillo donde Bobby, un cantante que se desarrolló influenciado por Rafael Chivirico Dávila, reconfirma –como lo demostró en “Fire & Rain”- que posee el sentimiento y el fraseo para brillar en otros géneros. Su dúo con Miki Vimari en la versión bolerística del inmortal tango “Volver” de Carlos Gardel y Alfredo Lepera así lo sustenta. La segunda voz de Bobby es exquisita y Miki, quien ya había colaborado en los discos In Orbit y El diferente, demuestra no sólo en “Volver” sino en “La Vimari”, en sus primeros compases una sensual bossa nova que desemboca en un sabroso son, que después de los experimentos de Richie con féminas como Nydia Caro y Carmen Soto, era la cantante y corista que necesitaba la orquesta. 35 años después de su lanzamiento, pues, El Bestial Sonido de Richie Ray & Bobby Cruz es un disco obligado digno de la atención de los melómanos del mundo. Y lo más importante, un álbum merecedor de la difusión de los medios radiales para el provecho de las nuevas generaciones. Créditos Ricardo Ray: piano, arreglos, coros y segunda voz Bobby Cruz: vocalista principal, coros, arreglos Miki Vimari: vocalista y coros Ismael “Cocolía” Rodríguez: 1 trompeta Ismael “Maelo” Rodríguez: 2 trompeta Manolito González: bongó, cencerro y timbalitos José “Mañengue” Hidalgo: congas Charlie “El Pirata” Cotto: timbales Mike “El Che” Amitin: bajo Director de grabación: Johnny Pacheco Producido por: Ricardo Ray y Bobby Cruz Grabado en: Ochoa Recording, San Juan, P.R. Ingeniero: Pedrito Mezcla por: Fred Weinberg Foto original de carátula: Maurice Seymour Diseño original da caratula: Izzy Sanabria Escrito por Jaime Torres Torres
Willie Rosario Y Su Orquesta
|El Bravo De Siempre|
|La Esencia Del Guaguanco|
|Soy Tan Feliz|
|La Cuesta De La Fama|
|Besame La Bembita|
|By The Time I Get To Phoenix|
|Periodico De Ayer|
|Un Amor De La Calle|
|Hacha Y Machete|
|Calle Luna Calle Sol|
|Todo Tiene Su Final|