Together with bandleader Rafael Cortijo, Ismael Rivera (aka Maelo) revolutionized Afro-Caribbean music during the '50s. Turning his life around after being jailed for a drug deal, Maelo started his own band, the Cachimbos, a very young but talented group of musicians. With the Cachimbos, Maelo continued to play some bomba and plena, but he also placed an emphasis on Afro-Cuban genres with modern arrangements. This new phase in Maelo’s career gave him the autonomy to hand pick a number of excellent composers and arrangers. ...MORE >
Together with bandleader Rafael Cortijo, Ismael Rivera (aka Maelo) revolutionized Afro-Caribbean music during the '50s. Turning his life around after being jailed for a drug deal, Maelo started his own band, the Cachimbos, a very young but talented group of musicians. With the Cachimbos, Maelo continued to play some bomba and plena, but he also placed an emphasis on Afro-Cuban genres with modern arrangements. This new phase in Maelo’s career gave him the autonomy to hand pick a number of excellent composers and arrangers.
Released in 1974, "Traigo De Todo" was Maelo's fifth album with the Cachimbos - and his highest point according to many critics. The singer selected La Sonora Matancera’s Javier Vazquez, whom he had meet through Cortijo. "The majority of songs were first chosen by Maelo," said Vazquez. "He called me to work on the arrangements because he knew that I was very familiar with his vocal skills and texture. After that, we would have one rehearsal or proceed directly to the recording studio.”
Some of the songs here are autobiographical. Others reflect everyday life and social issues affecting Afro-Caribbean people. The bomba “Colobo” pays tribute to the town of Loíza, the first township founded by former slaves in Puerto Rico. “Yo No Quiero Piedras En Mi Camino” was a song that Maelo had already turned into a classic with Cortijo. “Witinila” is about the ordeal of an esclavo cimarrón (runaway slave). Four of the tracks are by two of Puerto Rico’s greatest composers: Pedro Flores and Bobby Capó.
The material was a perfect vehicle for Maelo’s mastery as a sonero. "Maelo's singing on 'Qué Te Pasa a Ti,' 'Orgullosa' and 'Traigo de Todo' should be used to teach new soneros," said Vazquez. "Indeed, it was these songs that earned Maelo the nickname of El Sonero Mayor".
Latin jazz musicians such as David Sánchez and Guillermo Klein have stated that listening to Maelo influenced their phrasing and compositions. Maelo improvises lyrics between coros with extreme rhythmic complexity. He inserts many pitches within the beats and uses rhythm to enhance the song - even when he is singing the verse section or melody. He was a sonero with a unique timbre, an extra touch of soul, and a master at punctuating rhythms.
A good example of Maelo’s inventive phrasing is the line pa’ lante como un elefante in “El Nazareno,” the most famous track on this album. This is a song dedicated to the Black Christ of Portobelo in Panama. Over the years, the Black Christ statue, located in the church of San Felipe de Portobelo in Panama, has been credited with miracles. One of those miracles was turning Maelo’s life around from an addiction to drugs that was destroying his career. He visited the church in Panama where he prayed to the Black Christ, asking for help with his addiction. After that first visit, Maelo recuperated quickly and returned to music with renewed vigor.
Maelo kept his promise and returned to Portobelo , on October 21 from 1975 to 1985 for a three-day walking pilgrimage that became a national event in Panama, with people joining Maelo walking and singing all the way to the church. Following Maelo’s death, other soneros have visited the Black Christ. Today, there is a bust of Maelo in front of the church. “El Nazareno” is heard constantly on Panamanian radio stations during the annual festivities of the Black Christ.
Other noteworthy moments in "Traigo de Todo" are Rigo's timbales solo on “El Nazareno,” the trumpet solo of “Chocolate” Armenteros (the greatest típico trumpet player in Cuban history) in “El Niche,” and the sax solo by Manuel González on “Qué Te Pasa Ti.” Musicians, scholars and common people consider Maelo a true phenomenon of the twentieth century. Traigo de Todo is one of his most important contributions to the history of Afro-Caribbean music.
Javier Vazquez – Piano
“Chocolate” Armenteros – Trumpet
Manuel González – Alto Sax
Harry D’Aguilar – Trombone
Raimundo Vazquez – Bass
Victor González – Bongo
Carlos Malcon – Timbales
Frankie Malabe - Conga
Sammy Ayala – Percussion
Chorus – Yayo El Indio, Vitín Avilés, Adalberto Santiago
Producer – Joe Cain
Musical Arrangements – Javier Vazquez
Recorded at – Generation Sound Studios N.Y.C.
Engineers – Tony May, Gretchen Zoeckler
Project Coordinator – Miriam Vazquez
Original Album Art Director – Angelo Velazquez
Original Album Photography - Dominique
Liner notes written by Gregory “Goyo” Pappas LESS >