Right from start, Fania Records and its subsidiaries exceeded everybody’s expectations. The label was created in 1964. It penetrated the market so successfully and became so popular at the international level that its executives decided to broaden its talent in order to reach an even wider audience. The result? The wildly successful Fania All Stars, a group that brought together several of the label’s most popular artists. This move would further solidify the label’s standing in the international music scene.
The Fania All Stars’ first concert, “Live at the Red Garter,” was a promotional experiment designed solely to test the waters. The all-star cast included Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri, Ricardo Ray, and Bobby Cruz, and resulted in a live double album. The experiment couldn’t have been more successful. In 1971, the band revolutionized salsa as a genre with “Fania All Stars at the Cheetah,” a concert that was filmed and recorded live. In 1973, following a successful tour, the band made its first appearance at Yankee Stadium in New York. The stars performed before countless fans that had caught the fever and were swooning in the presence of consecrated performers of the genre such as Willie Colón, Johnny Pacheco, Bobby Valentín, Ray Barreto, and Mongo Santamaría.This concert, too, was filmed and recorded live, and set the standard in the music industry.
The All Stars were on fertile soil, and they wasted no time in reaping the benefits. In 1974, they appeared live at the Statu Hai stadium in Kinshasa, Zaire, which was the scene of the movie “Fania All Stars Live in Africa.” In 1975, the band returned to Yankee Stadium, this time with such famous names as Celia Cruz, Héctor Lavoe, Justo Betancourt, Ismael Quintana, Cheo Feliciano, Ismael Mirando, Pete “El Conde” Rodríguez, Bobby Cruz, and Santos Colón. One after the other, the band continued performing in concerts that were just as successful and multitudinous: “Salsa,” “Live,” “Best Of,” "Live in Japan" (1976), and "Tribute to Tito Rodríguez,” which marked Rubén Blades’ first performance with the All Stars.
To properly celebrate the Fania All Stars’ 20th birthday and Fania Records’ 30th, the label has re-released two concerts: “Live in Africa” and “Live in Japan,” which propelled a successful tour across five continents and showed the identity of a created family that has spread its social, musical, and cultural message throughout the world.
Desde su inicio en 1964, el sello Fania y sus subsidiarias superaron todas las expectativas. Tal fue su penetración y demanda popular a nivel internacional, que se dio a la tarea de expandir sus talentos para una mayor difusión lo que motivo la creación de la llamada y exitosa “Fania All Stars”, que agruparía varios de sus más populares y acreditados artistas. Esto al mismo tiempo, le proporcionaría una proyección más ambiciosa en el panorama de la música internacional.
El primer concierto de la “Fania All Stars”, “Live At The Red Garter”, fue un intento con un único fin, sondear su proyección únicamente con carácter promocional en el que intervinieron: Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri, Ricardo Ray y Bobby Cruz, del que se derivaron grabaciones agrupadas en dos volúmenes.
El intento no pudo ser más exitoso, y en el año 1971 se produciría un trascendental acontecimiento que revolucionaría la industria de la Salsa como género musical, con la presentación del concierto denominado “Fania All Stars at the Cheetah” que fue grabado y filmado en vivo.
En 1973, después de cubrir una exitosa gira, hicieron su primera presentación en el “Yankee Stadium” de la ciudad de Nueva York, ante una multitudinaria audiencia de fanáticos contagiados con la presencia de consagradas estrellas del género como: Willie Colón, Johnny Pacheco, Bobby Valentín, Ray Barreto y Mongo Santamaría. El concierto fue igualmente filmado y grabado y constituyó un acontecimiento que marcaría pautas en la industria musical.
El terreno estaba abonado, en lo sucesivo se sucedieron otros exitosos conciertos: En 1974, se presentaron en el estadio Statu Hai, Kinshasa, Zaire, (Africa) que diera origen a la película “Fania All Stars Live In Africa”. En 1975, “Fania All Stars” volvió a presentarse en concierto en el “Yankee Stadium”. En esta oportunidad con la participación de destacadas figuras como: Celia Cruz, Héctor Lavoe, Justo Betancourt, Ismael Quintana, Cheo Feliciano, Ismael Miranda, Pete “El Conde” Rodríguez, Bobby Cruz y Santos Colón.
Cronológicamente se sucedieron otros conciertos no menos exitosos y multitudinarios: “Salsa”, “Live”, “Best Of”, “Live In Japan” (1976), “Tribute To Tito Rodríguez”, en el que participó e hizo su incursión en la agrupación, Rubén Blades. Para celebrar el vigésimo aniversario de la “Fania All Stars” como agrupación y el trigésimo de haberse constituido el sello “Fania”, reestrenó los conciertos: “Live In Africa”, y “Live In Japan”, que impuso una exitosa gira por los cinco continentes para mostrar la identidad de una familia constituida, que ha contribuido a expandir su mensaje social, musical y cultural en el mundo.
The 1989 album “Guasasa” is the last studio album for the Fania Six, the Fania All Stars offshoot created in 1976 by Columbia Records for marketing purposes. It features their rhythm section comprised of: Johnny Pacheco, Ray Barretto, Bobby Valentín, Roberto Roena, Nicky Marrero and virtuoso pianist Papo Lucca.
Clearly intended as a Latin jazz set, this album actually bears a more dance-oriented style (as in instrumental salsa, so to speak) as opposed to this band’s earlier, bolder California Jam date. While the former date was actually a real jam session, here they work with formal charts, calculated solo spots and a less-relaxed ambience that actually belies the laid-back feel of the album.
The main entrée on this album are definitely tracks number two and three. After the opener title track sets the mood with short solos from Barretto, Pacheco and invited guitarist Francisco Navarro, Fania Six’s version of Stevie Wonder’s “Why Can’t We Live Together”, superbly arranged by Bobby Valentín, builds in intensity before giving way to Lucca’s very first power display on keyboards (check out how he switches into synth drums at the end of his solo before giving way to Pacheco to bring things back home). The third track is their version of Grant Greissman’s classic The Sauce, which became famous in the 1990s via Chick Corea’s Elektric Band version, is redone here as “Los Seis Diferentes” (with the actual composing in the original LP credited to Pacheco and Jerry Masucci instead of Greissman). Luís Perico Ortiz cameos here in his first appearance with Fania since 1981, playing all the horn parts and delivering a short, gorgeous flugelhorn solo. After a re-quoting of the main theme, things shift into overdrive as Pacheco leads the jam, followed by another powerful solo, this time on piano, by Lucca (in my opinion, one of his all-time best).
The cover of Gypsy Kings’ “Allegria” appears on this album and that’s perhaps where the idea for this album came from. An actual outtake from Fania All Stars previous album, Bamboleo, where the horns actually don’t play, this track brings back Navarro as the main soloist (he was the guest performer on Bamboleo, by the way), followed by a big solo from Bobby Valentín. The cue for discovering this fact is actually listening to Nicky Marrero’s timbale tuning here. While the actual “Guasasa” session is the first recording ever where Nicky uses his current tuning, with the hembra (low) drum tuned in E-flat which back then was way higher than norm (and soon after that has slowly become the norm for most current timbaleros), in “Allegria” he’s still using the lower tones from the previous album.
The following three tracks were credited as “Fania All Stars” compositions. “The Click”, a sextet original not to be mistaken with Miriam Makeba’s same-titled super hit, serves as a laid back workout for the six main performers, with Pappo Lucca (this track’s arranger) serving himself a couple of extra solo bars on his showcase. “De Nuevo A La Carga” is the percussion feature of the set, with Barretto, Nicky and Roberto Roena stretching out with short solos, followed by three choruses with Pacheco’s flute in charge, all propelled by Bobby Valentín’s furious bass lines. Valentín, this track’s real original composer and arranger, actually re-worked this chart as an intro tune for his own band’s concerts featuring his own rhythm section (check his Live in Bellas Artes DVD on Bronco, for example). The closer “Quasedito” is this date’s most jazz-oriented track and an impressive feature for Lucca, Navarro and Pacheco.
Although lack of promotion affected this album’s outcome (besides the fact that Fania at that time, or even at their 1970s prime for that matter, never knew how to promote a jazz album), it became an impressive success in Japan. As a result of this, the Fania Six, billed as the Fania All Stars, returned to Japan for a very successful tour with guest flutist Dave Valentín.
Papo Lucca – Piano, Keyboards
Bobby Valentín – Bass
Ray Barretto – Congas
Roberto Roena – Bongos, Cowbell
Johnny Pacheco – Flute, Güiro, Maracas
Nicky Marrero – Timbales
Special Invited Guest:
Luís “Perico” Ortiz – Flugelhorn “Los Seis Diferentes”
Francisco Navarro – Acustic and Electric Guitar
Johnny Pacheco, Adalberto Santiago - ("Back To Charge", "The Click")
Johnny Pacheco - "The Six Different"
Producer – Jerry Masucci
Recording Director – Johnny Pacheco
Engineer – Irv Greenbaum
Arrangements – Lucho Servidio, Johnny Pacheco (“Guasasa”, “Los Seis Diferentes”, “Allegria”), Bobby Valentín (“Why Can’t We Live Together”, “De Nuevo A La Carga”), Papo Lucca (“The Click”), Ricky González (“Quasedito”)
Original Album Cover Art and Design – Rickey Ricardo Gaskins
Many thanks to Heriberto Rios.
Written by Thomas Muriel "Guasasa" (1989) is the last studio album of the Fania Six, the derivative of the Fania All Stars created by Columbia Records in '76 for marketing purposes and composed by Johnny Pacheco, Ray Barretto, Bobby Valentin, Roberto Roena, Nicky Marrero and Papo Lucca. What is marketing as a Latin jazz session is largely a dance-oriented (instrumental sauce, if you like the term) disc, the opposite of his previous album, aggressive California Jam. While the previous session was a real shock, here's sextet faces formal arrangements and a less relaxed atmosphere that contrasts precisely with the relaxed tone of the disc.
The highlight are the second and the third theme. After opening theme where style with short solos Barretto, Pacheco and guest guitarist Francisco Navarro, Six version of Stevie Wonder's classic "Why Can not We Live Together," superbly managed by Valentine, set grows in intensity before giving way to the first display of virtuosity of Papo Lucca on keyboards (note the change to the sounds of electric battery at the end of one before handing the subject Pacheco). The third issue is their version of the classic Grant Geissman Chick Corea composed for The Sauce, renamed here as "The Six Different" (with composer credit for Pacheco and Jerry Masucci in the original LP). Luis Perico Ortiz, in his first appearance since the '81 Fania touches every wind plasma and a beautiful flugelhorn solo (or flugelhorn in English). After restored the original melody, the thing goes Pacheco grade with leading the attack, followed by a huge piano solo by Papo Lucca (in my opinion, one of the best of all time).
Reading the theme "Allegria" the Gipsy Kings is possibly displayed here which gave birth to the concept of this album. Originally recorded in the sessions of the previous album of All Stars, Bamboleo, windless topic brings back Navarro solo, followed by a single sovereign Valentine. The key to unlocking this data it is to hear the timpani tuning Nicky Marrero. While sessions "Guasasa" are where first Nicky uses his current sound tuning his female drum in me (who by then was far more acute than the norm and today has become standard for many contemporary drummers), in " Allegria "still uses the lower tones of the previous disc.
The remaining three issues are published as compositions of the "Fania All Stars." "The Click," original sextet (do not confuse it with the super success of Miriam Makeba), serves as an introduction to the six original, with its arranger Papo Lucca making use with big spoon. "Back To Load" is the vehicle for the highlight of the rhythm section Barretto, Nicky and Roberto Roena followed by three choirs with Pacheco to load. All supported by Valentin rabid low, the true composer and arranger of the issue, who then rearranges the subject for his own band as its opening theme highlighting his own rhythm section. The ending theme "Quasedito" is as close to jazz found in this set, a stunning theme for the highlight of Lucca, Navarro and Pacheco.
Although the lack of promotion affected disk (plus the fact that Fania at the time, and even at the height of its heyday in the 70's, never knew how to market a jazz record, (as was the case of The Other Road Barretto), "Guasasa" was a success in the Japanese market. So much so that six of Fania, posing as the Fania All Stars, made a successful tour of Japan (for the first time since his debut in 1976) with flutist Dave Valentin as guest artist.
Papo Lucca - Piano, Keyboard
Bobby Valentine - Under
Ray Barretto - Congas
Roberto Roena - Bongo, Bell
Johnny Pacheco - flute, guiro, maracas
Nicky Marrero - Timbales
Luis "Perico" Ortiz - flugelhorn "The Six Different"
Francisco Navarro - Acoustic and Electric
Johnny Pacheco, Adalberto Santiago - ("Back To Charge", "The Click")
Johnny Pacheco - "The Six Different"
Producer - Jerry Masucci
Recording Director - Johnny Pacheco
Engineer - Irv Greenbaum
Arrangements - Lucho Servidio, Johnny Pacheco ("Guasasa", "The Six Different", "Allegria"), Bobby Valentine ("Why Can not We Live Together" "Back To Charge"), Papo Lucca ("The Click"), Ricky Gonzalez ("Quasedito")
Art and Design Original Cover - Rickey Ricardo Gaskins
Thanks to Heriberto Rios
Written by Thomas Muriel