The prolific discography of legendary bandleader and Fania Records co-founder Johnny Pacheco is usually associated with his two favorite singers: Celia Cruz “La Reina” and Pete 'El Conde' Rodríguez. It was with La Reina and El Conde that he enjoyed his biggest hits. ...MORE >
The prolific discography of legendary bandleader and Fania Records co-founder Johnny Pacheco is usually associated with his two favorite singers: Celia Cruz “La Reina” and Pete 'El Conde' Rodríguez. It was with La Reina and El Conde that he enjoyed his biggest hits.
But Pacheco has always been unusually eclectic, a man in love with all kinds of music, willing to experiment restlessly by working in a variety of settings. He recorded albums with veteran flutist José Fajardo; former Sonora Matancera vocalist Celio González; and also with one Angel Luis Silva Nava, aka Melón, the Mexican sonero who gained worldwide recognition as half of the duo Lobo y Melón.
Formed in 1958 by Silva and Carlos Daniel Navarro Pulido ('Lobo'), Lobo y Melón encapsulated the huge influence that Afro-Caribbean music had on Mexican popular culture.
Cuban artists like Pérez Prado and La Sonora Matancera were extremely successful in Mexico, and latin genres like the mambo and the cha cha cha were quickly assimilated by local musicians. The result was a sweeter sound, a beguiling combination of Afro-Cuban fervor and infectious pop (one of Mexico's most venerated orchestras, the endearing Sonora Santanera represents this tropi-pop mystique in all its glory.)
The first LP by Lobo y Melón contained the song "Amalia Batista," a huge hit which eventually gained them fame outside of Mexico, with frequent performances all over the U.S. Unfortunately, the duo would end its partnership over creative differences-- a decision that Melón would eventually regret. In 1971, following a Los Angeles tour, they simply said goodbye to each other at the Mexico City airport. Lobo y Melón had ceased to exist.
Pacheco met Melón in 1964, when the Mexican duo performed at the Palladium for the first time. They encountered each other again in 1975, when members of the Fania All Stars were in Los Angeles recording the California Jam sessions. Recognizing Melón's expressiveness as a sonero, Pacheco invited him to record with him in New York.
Llego Melón was an instant hit when it was released in 1977. Listening to this remastered edition, it is easy to understand why.
The album opens with "Don Toribio Carambola," song popularized by a composition by Catalan singer/songwriter Peret, pioneer of the genre known as rumba flamenca. Pacheco's inventive arrangement boasts the kind of irresistible nasal coros that define so many of his recordings. It also demonstrates how the salsa explosion of the '70s was able to assimilate a dizzying variety of styles, from rumba flamenca and bossa nova to tango and funk, into its own, unique vision.
In 1995 in a interview with Marry McMasters, Melón said that it took short time to record the nine tracks of this album. He shines on two slow numbers, the velvety "Esto Sí Se Llama Querer" and the plaintive "Nuestra Cita," demonstrating his versatility as a performer. A composition by Melón himself, "Quiero Llegar A Puerto Rico" is notable for its fusion of old fashioned Cuban conjunto sensibility with a charming intro of doo-wop styled vocals.
But the record's tour de force is the eight-minute long closing track "Solo Estoy," an extended jam boosted by Pacheco's acrobatic flute soloing, swinging coros and an implacable piano tumbao courtesy of Sonny Bravo.
Llegó Melón, an excellent recording match with the feeling of freshness and creative innovation generated in this classic album.
Johnny Pacheco – Leader, Flute, Minor Percussion “Guiro”
Sonny Bravo – Piano
Eddie Rivera – Baby Bass
Luis “Perico” Ortíz – Trumpet
Héctor “Bomberito” Zarzuela – Trumpet
Johnny “Dandy” Rodríguez – Congas
Luis Mangual – Bongos, Cowbell
Héctor Casanova – Maracas
Charlie Rodríguez – Tres Guitar
Harry Viggiano – Tres Guitar
Lead Singer – Luis Angel Silva Nava “Melón”
Chorus – Johnny Pacheco, Ramón Rodríguez
Producer – Johnny Pacheco
Recorded at – La Tierra Sound Studios, N.Y.C.
Sound Engineer – Irv Greenbaum, Jon Fausty
Musical Arrangements – Luis “Perico” Ortíz, Sonny Bravo, Edwin Rodríguez, Johnny Pacheco
Original Album Photography – Lee Marshall
Location – Grocery Store at 9th Avenue
Original Album Design – Ron Levine