How do you follow up the success of Hommy, a Latin Opera? It took me months of research at the home of René López to find the compositions I was looking for. I had decided to focus exclusively on the kind of songs that my orchestra felt most comfortable playing-- Cuban son and guaguancó. René had the largest collection of Cuban music in New York City and was gracious enough to help me find the best possible songs for this project. Cuban bandleader Arsenio Rodríguez and his disciples were my musical idols. My band was at its peak of popularity, as was the salsa movement, both in New York City and Puerto Rico. ...MORE >
How do you follow up the success of Hommy, a Latin Opera? It took me months of research at the home of René López to find the compositions I was looking for. I had decided to focus exclusively on the kind of songs that my orchestra felt most comfortable playing-- Cuban son and guaguancó. René had the largest collection of Cuban music in New York City and was gracious enough to help me find the best possible songs for this project. Cuban bandleader Arsenio Rodríguez and his disciples were my musical idols. My band was at its peak of popularity, as was the salsa movement, both in New York City and Puerto Rico.
All of the arrangers were hand picked by me for this album. I had discovered that Lewis Kahn played the violin and was very interested in incorporating the charanga style together with my trademark combination of trumpets and trombones-- we did this by adding two violins to the usual lineup. At the same time, Junior González was quickly learning the correct style of singing Cuban son and charanga. We rehearsed for months, and then went to the Good Vibrations studio with my favorite new engineer, Jon Fausty, on November 26 and 27 of 1973.
We recorded the songs as a real group. Only the violins, Cuban tres and vocals were overdubbed. It was our first time recording on 16-track tape. The wonderful coristas on this session were Yayo el Indio, Marcelino Guerra and Adalberto Santiago. The master himself, Johnny Pacheco, played the Cuban flute. Milton Cardona and Gene Golden added batá drums. Junior González did a fine job on vocals, and played maracas and güiro as well.
The opening “No Quiero” is one of my favorite songs on this album. The catchy counterpoint rhythm breaks against the brass. The wonderful tres solo by Harry Vigiano together with Charlie Miller’s flute shows you what son montuno is all about.
A song by Arsenio, "La Cartera” had been recorded a few times before me. It was the addition of the violins and the Sam Burtis arrangement that made this version different. This was my biggest hit, spawning the judío maravilloso nickname. Arsenio was called el ciego maravilloso and when Adalberto heard the piano solo being recorded, he yelled “ahora viene el maravilloso.” Junior replied: “el judío maravilloso.”
Also by Arsenio, “Popo Pa’ Mí” is based on a santería chant. Eddie “Guagua” Rivera performs an extraordinary bass solo.
“No Hay Amigo” is a wonderful guaguancó sparked by Junior’s vocals. Arranger Mike Gibson creates the illusion of a big band, while Eddie Colón’s timbales keep the song moving with intensity.
“Suéltame,” composed by Ismael Rodríguez, is another example of how great a son montuno can be. The trumpet of Ray Maldonado and Charlie Miller stand out here.
“El Paso De Encarnación” has been one of my favorite songs since I first heard Orquesta Aragón in Cuba during the '50s. With the addition of violins in my band, I was now able to record this wonderful song in real charanga mode.
“Wampo” was first recorded by my mentor Tito Puente. A wonderful afrocubano song. We named Tony Jiménez "Wampo" after this recording. The trumpet solo by Charlie Miller is outstanding.
“Silencio” is the closing track here. It starts as a son montuno and ends up going faster and faster as the batá drums take you into a world of spiritual possession.
In retrospect, Salsa is probably one of my best albums-- a must for listening or dancing. I hope you enjoy this classic recording.
Pablito Rosario – Bongo, Paila, Güiro
Anthony “Tony” Jiménez – Tumbadora
Edwin Colón – Timbales
Eddie “Guagua” Rivera – Bass
Junior González – Maracas
Reinaldo Jorge – Trombone
Lewis Kahn – Trombone, Violin
Ralph Castrella – Trumpet
Charlie Miller – Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Flute
Ray Maldonado – Trumpet
Larry Harlow – Piano
Vocals – Junior González
Producer – Larry Harlow, for Passing Clouds Music, Inc
Executive Producer – Jerry Masucci
Recorded at – Good Vibrations Sound Studios, NYC. November 26 and 27, 1973
Engineer – Jon Fausty
Musical Arrangements – Larry Harlow, José Luis Cruz, Mike Gibson, Sam Burtis, Eddie Martínez
Original Album Photography – Francisco “Pancho” Ogarrio
Special thanks to:
Yayo El Indio, Adalberto Santiago, Marcelino Guerra – Coro
Harry Vigiano – Tres, Guitar
Johnny Pacheco – Flute
Milton Cardona – Batá
Gene Golden - Batá
René López – Research