The date Friday, August 23, 1973, is an historic one for Latin music. That night, Jerry Masucci, the ultimate gambler, was the last man laughing as his most bizarre gambit to date became a total success— his Fania All Stars poured 40,000 screaming fans into the Yankee Stadium for an unforgettable night of superb music. If Fania Records’ super-band was already famous at the time (thanks to the famed Cheetah concert and the movie Our Latin Thing) this is the concert that made them a legend (the famous Cheetah club actually folded in 1974). That night, the All Stars were scheduled to play two sets. ...MORE >
The date Friday, August 23, 1973, is an historic one for Latin music. That night, Jerry Masucci, the ultimate gambler, was the last man laughing as his most bizarre gambit to date became a total success— his Fania All Stars poured 40,000 screaming fans into the Yankee Stadium for an unforgettable night of superb music. If Fania Records’ super-band was already famous at the time (thanks to the famed Cheetah concert and the movie Our Latin Thing) this is the concert that made them a legend (the famous Cheetah club actually folded in 1974). That night, the All Stars were scheduled to play two sets. The first set was a traditional one, aided by guests Mongo Santamaría, Jan Hammer, Jorge Santana, and Billy Cobham, who quickly proved to the crowd that they could play soul as well as rock. The second set, another daring Masucci gambit, was never completed, as a bloody conga duel battle between Ray Barretto and Santamaría prompted the frenzied audience to bypass the security barriers to make their way into the playing field and onto the stage, triggering the concert’s abrupt ending.
The orchestra had already gone through serious changes in personnel—now all the singers were either solo acts or bandleaders (or on the way to becoming both as part of the label’s expansion plans). On the other hand, a bitter internal controversy involving three of their main stars provoked one of the most important changes on the band’s roster—this was the result of the harsh breakup of Barretto’s band, with five of his musicians leaving to form Típica ’73. As a result, Barretto made it clear he did not want to share the same stage with Orestes Vilato, and threatened to leave the band if the latter remained in the lineup. Forcing Masucci and Johnny Pacheco to choose, they had no other option than to release Orestes, replacing him with another famous timbale virtuoso, Nicky Marrero. Adalberto Santiago, another departing Barretto member and Típica ’73 founder, chose to leave the All Stars in solidarity with Vilato, in spite of having Barretto, Pacheco, and Masucci’s green light to stay in the band despite not being a solo act (unlike the other departing members, Adalberto left Barretto’s band on good terms).
In another big move, Fania welcomes Ismael Quintana, the perennial Eddie Palmieri singer and now officially a solo act, into the lineup, with virtuoso Mongo Santamaría in as an invited guest. The rest of the lineup consisted of stellar bandleaders Willie Colón, Larry Harlow, Roberto Roena, Richie Ray, and Bobby Valentín; singers Cheo Feliciano, Bobby Cruz, Justo Betancourt, Hector Lavoe, Ismael Miranda, Santos Colón, and Pete El Conde Rodríguez; Yomo Toro on cuatro; trumpeters Roberto Rodríguez, Ray Maldonado and the legendary Victor Paz; and trombonists Barry Rogers and Lewis Kahn (the latter one in for Reynaldo Jorge). On November 1973, Fania reprises this concert in Puerto Rico, opening the new Roberto Clemente Coliseum. There were yet more changes for this concert: Luís Perico Ortiz was now aboard replacing Roberto Rodriguez, while this date marked the formal All Star debut of Celia Cruz (she didn’t perform at Yankee Stadium, actually). Although they repeat the same song lineup here from the Yankee concert, this other date was also filmed and recorded.
Finally, in 1975 Fania releases the long-awaited “Live At Yankee Stadium” albums. In spite of the title, material from the Puerto Rico concert, which resulted in better sound quality, was also included. In this first volume you’re holding right now, four of the five songs are actually from the Puerto Rico concert, which are “Pueblo Latino”, the only Yankee Stadium version appearing here. This album yielded the All Stars their first Grammy nomination. What’s more, in 2004, the Library of Congress awarded this double album as one of the 50 Most Important Albums of the 20th Century, along with Tito Puente’s Dance Mania, which was the only other Latin album on this prestigious list.
Johnny Pacheco – Leader, Percussion
Larry Harlow - Piano
Richie Ray – Piano (“Diosa Del Ritmo”)
Bobby Valentín - Bass
Nicky Marrero - Timbales
Ray Barretto – Congas
Roberto Roena - Bongo, Percussion
Yomo Toro - Cuatro
Roberto Rodríguez – Trumpet (“Pueblo Latino”)
Luís "Perico" Ortiz - Trumpet (except “Pueblo Latino”)
Víctor Paz - Trumpet
Ray Maldonado - Trumpet
Barry Rogers - Trombone
Lewis Kahn - Trombone
Willie Colón - Trombone
Lead Singers - Ismael Miranda, Héctor Lavoe, Pete “El Conde” Rodríguez, Justo Betancourt, Santos Colón
Guest Stars Courtesy of Vaya Records – Celia Cruz, Mongo Santamaría, Bobby Cruz, Cheo Feliciano, Ismael Quintana, Ricardo Ray
Masters of Ceremony - Symphony Sid, Izzy Sanabria, Dick Sugar, Paquito Navarro, Joe Gaines
Producers – Jerry Masucci, Larry Harlow
Recording Director – Johnny Pacheco
Recorded Live at- Yankee Stadium, New York and Coliseo Roberto Clemente, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Engineer – Alan Manger
Mixed - Good Vibrations Sound Studios
Mixing Engineers – Jon Fausty, Larry Harlow
Arrangements – Bobby Valentín (“Que Rico Suena Mi Tambor”, “Soy Guajiro”), Johnny Pacheco and Bobby Valentín (“Diosa Del Ritmo”, “Mi Gente”), Luís Cruz (“Pueblo Latino”)
Original Album Photography – Lee Marshall
Original Album Design – Ron Levine