Produced by Al Santiago and recorded with the backing of the infamous Alegre All Stars, Son Con Guaguancó is the album that Celia released following Cuba Y Puerto Rico Son, the classic 1966 session that began her lifelong collaboration with Tito Puente. ...MORE >
Produced by Al Santiago and recorded with the backing of the infamous Alegre All Stars, Son Con Guaguancó is the album that Celia released following Cuba Y Puerto Rico Son, the classic 1966 session that began her lifelong collaboration with Tito Puente.
Not surprisingly, this is one of the most spirited and buoyant albums in Celia's discography. Having left her beloved Cuba in 1960, the singer had brought new changes in her life in 1965, by abandoning the safety of the Sonora Matancera-- the orchestra that made her famous. Now she was eager to prove to the world that she could make it on her own. In the following years, key members of the New York Latin scene such as Puente, Larry Harlow, Johnny Pacheco and Ray Barretto would recognize her tremendous artistic potential and invite her to record with them.
And yet, the '60s was the most uncertain time in the diva's career. Even though she recorded copiously, both in New York (with the empathetic backing of Puente) and Mexico (under the elegant leadership of Memo Salamanca), commercial success eluded her.
To this day, people remember Celia through her Matancera recordings and the albums that she recorded in the '70s. For the most part, records like Son Con Guaguancó languished in obscurity, until now.
There is much to enjoy here. The Queen's voice is in top form, caressing every single syllable on the ceremonious bolero "Es La Humanidad," and displaying the supernatural power of her vocal chords on "El Cohete", a gleefully old fashioned cha cha cha.
As would be expected of the Alegre All Stars, the playing is exquisite. The orchestra includes virtuoso keyboardist Charlie Palmieri, Víctor Paz, Kako on timbales and Mario Rivera. The coro vocalists are none other than Chivirico Dávila, Willie Torres and Tito Puente favorite Santitos Colón. Together, these seasoned players glide through a brisk repertoire of 12 tunes that includes Celia standards like "Oye Mi Consejo."
Interestingly, the Matancera aesthetic (the three minute tropical bonbon overflowing with flavor and swing) continues to inform every single track on the album. It was an influence that the singer was able to shake off only during the new millennium, when her sound made an abrupt turn towards contemporary formats like hip-hop and slick pop on mega-hits like "La Negra Tiene Tumbao" and "La Vida Es Un Carnaval."
The opening track of Son Con Guaguancó is "Bemba Colorá," one of Celia's signature songs. This studio version, brief and punchy, would be overshadowed by the 11-minute marathon with the Fania All Stars, immortalized on the 1973 album Live At The Yankee Stadium. Showcasing her unstoppable energy, this particular recording established Celia as the undisputable Queen of Salsa. She continued performing the song in concert until the end of her life, in 2003.
Following Son Con Guaguancó, Celia would continue a winning artistic streak by recording LPs such as Bravo, Serenata Guajira, and Quimbo Quimbumbia with Tito Puente. Then, in the early '70s, when she was beginning to lose hope about her commercial viability, she was asked by Larry Harlow to perform the track "Gracia Divina" on Latin opera Hommy.
Things would never be the same. Records such as Celia & Johnny (with Pacheco) and Only They Could Have Made This Album (with Willie Colón) became indispensable chapters in the history of salsa. If anything, this remastered edition of Son Con Guaguancó demonstrates that Celia's genius was already blossoming years before the New York salsa explosion of the '70s took the world by storm.
Charlie Palmieri – Piano
Frankie Malave – Congas
Johnny "Dandy" Rodríguez – Bongos, Cowbell
Kako Bastar – Timbales
Bobby Rodríguez – Acoustic Bass
Victor Paz – Trumpet
Pedro "Puchi" Boulong – Trumpet
Mario Rivera – Sax
Producer – Al Santiago
Recording Director – Tito Puente
Recording Engineer – Frank Kulaga, Fred Weinberg
A & R Director – Al Santiago
Musical Arrangements – Charlie Palmieri, Tito Puente, Louie Ramírez,
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