Every generation has had its share of heroes. They’ve appeared in books, newspapers, television, radio and even on phonograph records. That being said, it seems hard to believe that it has now been 22 years since the untimely passing of Frank Machito Grillo. He (and his music) certainly qualifies as a musical hero that has spanned several generations. ...MORE >
Every generation has had its share of heroes. They’ve appeared in books, newspapers, television, radio and even on phonograph records. That being said, it seems hard to believe that it has now been 22 years since the untimely passing of Frank Machito Grillo. He (and his music) certainly qualifies as a musical hero that has spanned several generations.
The year is 1968, and after having recorded Mucho Mucho Machito on United Artists in 1965 and Machito Goes Memphis on RCA in 1967, Machito is without a recording contract. United Artists had declined to pick up the option in Machito’s contract. What’s more, RCA wasn’t satisfied with the sales of the Memphis album and decided to drop him. George The Vampire Goldner, who was the creator of Tico Records in 1951 (before his co-partner Morris Levy, Roulette records mogul, forced him out of the Latin recording business through a buyout in 1957), discovers that Machito cannot find anyone to record his music or orchestra. Goldner, on the other hand, had created his own new Latin label called Cotique, based in Connecticut, where he had experienced success making “radio” hits. So without any hesitation, he immediately sought out Machito and they both sat down and worked out a deal to record an album.
George was a big fan of Machito. He had seen the band perform at the Palladium, Palm Gardens, La Conga and Cubop City during the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, and as a result, he would call Machito Mr. Soul because of the excitement that his voice and orchestra would instill in all those who listened. He’s got it; everytime he sings and that band plays, the sound is a thrill, George would say. So Goldner set out to capture that thrill on his label. However, he felt that Machito needed a big radio hit. He suggested using Joey Pastrana (one of Cotique’s hit makers/bandleaders) as a composer, delegating him to write some songs for this project. Machito objected. George then quickly pointed out the success his label was having; he wanted to promote Machito’s name to the younger public. After thinking it over but with some trepidation, Machito agreed, and the songs were created.
One month later, the recording (which was later to be called “Soul of Machito” by Goldner) is finally scheduled. Frank Colón (longtime Puente arranger) and Héctor de León (La Lupe’s genius) were hired to create the arrangements. After much promise, however, the initial recording session proved to be poor. Cotique had been using Regent Sound Studios to record their artists. But Machito’s band was just too big for Regent, and the sound quality suffered as a result. After a few takes on a song, the band was dismissed and the session canceled. Although there was much disappointment, Goldner was not about to allow this project to escape his grasp so easily. He then booked Bell Sound, a larger studio, and the following week Machito was back to work.
The songs that George had commissioned Pastrana to write were recorded and considered successful. Graciela chipped in on the album and sang two tunes. The orchestra’s performance was excellent. José Curbelo, A & R man gave his approval. Curbelo, of course, had achieved his notoriety with his own band in the 1940’s where interestingly enough, both Tito Puente and Tito Rodríguez worked together. The mission was accomplished. The Machito orchestra would finally be back on the radio and in record stores again. Goldner had captured that exciting sound and was beaming. Machito, elated with his new record, was thrilled with the opportunity to reach out to that younger audience Goldner had described. Once again, we, the fans, were treated to a wonderful collection of new tunes and performances by this legendary hero of Latin music.
Let’s go back in time now and take a trip down memory lane. As you listen, you might find that your heart will flutter, your feet will move and your fingers will snap. Why? Well after all, why not? That’s what the “Soul Of Machito” does...........
Don Palmer – Alto Saxophones
Danny Turner - Alto Saxophones
Mario Bauza - Alto Saxophones
Jose “Pin” Madera - Tenor Saxophones
Stanley Bronstein -Tenor Saxophones
Leslie Johnakins - Baritone Saxophone
Victor Paz - Trumpet
Nilo Argudin - Trumpet
Alfredo “Chocolate” Armenteros - Trumpet
Roy Burroughs - Trumpet
Mike Rios - Piano
Evaristo Baro - Bass
Julian Cabrera - Conga
Chino Pozo - Bongo
Frank Colon - Timbales
Chorus - Machito, Felo Brito, Graciela
Producer - George Goldner
Recorded at - Bell Sound Studios N.Y.C. 1968
Engineer - Neal Ceppos
Arrangements – Frank Colón (“Ahora Si”, “Mango”, “Au Revoir”, “Ritmo Melon”, “Donde Aprendiste”, “Cuatro Patas”), Hector ”Cabeza” DeLeon (“Que Musica Mas Linda”, “El Santo En Nueva York” )
Musical Director - Mario Bauza
Artists & Repertoire - Jose Curbelo