“Irresistible” is more than just the title of this album by Ray Barretto. More importantly, it was that unseen force that pulled at him, tempting him to try something completely different from what he was accustomed to . “Irresistible”, which was released in 1989, also would mark the end of his association with Fania Records. ...MORE >
“Irresistible” is more than just the title of this album by Ray Barretto. More importantly, it was that unseen force that pulled at him, tempting him to try something completely different from what he was accustomed to . “Irresistible”, which was released in 1989, also would mark the end of his association with Fania Records.
At the time of its release, the Latin music market was inundated with what has come to be known as salsa romántica, a style that featured the singer upfront, singing tunes based on romantic themes built on a more slick and laidback sound that lacked the punch the salseros were use to hearing during the 1970s. Gone were the days of the sonero, soloist and the moñas; this was all about the voice and the message of love and desire being delivered. This style was something most musicians of Barretto’s era were unaccustomed to since it was the dancer that had always been their main focus. Of course, the romantic theme was not new to this music; it always shared the stage with social commentary and the double entendre, among many other themes. However, during this period it was the only thing driving the market.
Barretto had built a solid career on taking chances. He always seemed to be at the right place at the right time. In fact, luck helped launch his recording career and began when on that fateful night when Charlie Parker tapped him on the shoulder and invited him to stay on stage at the Apollo Bar. An A&R guy at Prestige records, Esmond Edwards, happened to be in the audience that night and invited him to record with Red Garland the very next day. Barretto was not one to let an opportunity pass him by and jumped at the opportunity.
Barretto approached the recording project with an open mind. He recruited musicians that had been playing with him throughout the 1980s and assigned the task of arranging seven of the eight tunes to his pianist, Ricky González. The eighth tune was an arrangement of “Night in Tunisia” by Angel Fernández. This particular arrangement was completed years prior to this recording for a concert in California where Barretto’s band would share the stage with the legendary Dizzy Gillespie. Unbeknownst to the musicians involved, this tune was a sign of things to come.
“Irresistible” features five tunes in the romántica style, a tribute to Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, birth place of Barretto’s parents as well as two instrumental tunes. The album produced three tunes that received a lot of radio play (“Llámame”, “Aguadilla” and “Irresistible”). A note of interest: this recording was initiated with the band’s former vocalist, Ray Saba. Saba, who was experiencing personal problems at the time, became a distraction and was replaced. His vocals would eventually be recorded over by lead singer Carlos Torres, who would also finish the recording. Overall what you have here is a recording that was representative of what was happening musically during the time of its release. However, this particular style was not enough to conquer the musical appetite of a musician such as Barretto. Unwilling to compromise his musical integrity, he would eventually dedicate the rest of his artistic life to that music that first captured his imagination—jazz. It’s no wonder that the recording ends with the band’s rendition of “Night in Tunisia”.
Towards the end of his life, Barretto started to reevaluate his musical contributions. During his last year he had been contemplating the recording of two projects, a jazz recording as well as a Latin recording with a sound reminiscent of his earlier days with Fania and one that would have brought him back to the label. In the end, the Latin project would never take off. In a way it was appropriate that he ended his musical career with the music that helped launch him, but it would have been great hear him in a Latin setting once again.
Ray Barretto - Congas, Director
Ricky González - Piano, Synthesizer
Salvador Cuevas - Bass
Carlitos Soto - Bongo
Pablo Nuñez - Timbales
Jimmy Delgado - Timbales
Hector “Bomberito” Zarzuela – Trumpet
Chris Anderson – Trumpet
Wilson Torres – Trumpet
Steve Gluzband – Trumpet
Angel Fernández – Trumpet
Norman Hogue and Jimmy Bosch – Trombone
Pucho Matos – Tres (“Aguadilla”)
Lead Vocal – Carlos Torres
Chorus - Danny Sánchez, Carlos Torres, José Soler, Felo Barrios, Adalberto Santiago, Ray Saba
Producer – Ray Barretto
Executive Producer – Jerry Masucci
Recorded at – Key Productions, Inc.
Engineer – Irv Greenbaum
Arrangements – Ricky González, except “Night In Tunisia” by Angel Fernández
Original Album Design and Artwork – Drago
Original Album Photography – Ed Brown