Fania Logo New School Baseball Hat (Black)
Fania Logo New School Baseball Hat (Black)
Pro-baseball shape with flat visor, matching fabric sweatband, 210 taping on inside seams, hard buckram, 3 3/4" crown and moisture absorbent pro headband. Bottom stitched for durability, with matching color under-visor. Great quality, and the world famous Fania logo shouts out ‘’Hard Salsa’’!
Pro-forma de béisbol con la visera plana, igualando vincha de tela, 210 taping en las costuras interiores, Entretela dura, 3 3/4" corona y la humedad absorbente pro diadema. Parte inferior cosida para mayor durabilidad, a juego con el color bajo-visera. La gran calidad, y la mundialmente famoso logo de Fania grita duro "Salsa!" Una talla para todos.
The childhood of José ‘Cheo’ Feliciano was poor but happy. His parents were Prudencio, a carpenter, and Crecensia, a homemaker. Cheo inherited from them a taste for the irresistible seduction of music. On Sunday afternoons, recovering from a week's work, his parents would sing the popular boleros and guarachas of the time. Together with Raúl Manfredi and a few other boys from the neighborhood of Bélgica de Ponce, Cheo discovered the magic of Afro-Caribbean percussion. He received his first formal music lessons by Julio Alvarado, at the school Escuela Libre de Música Juan Morel Campos. The defining moment that introduced Cheo into the mambo craze and burgeoning salsa movement happened in New York, when he became the conga player with Conjunto Marianasi, led by Luis Cruz. In his first live gigs, Cheo would imitate the famous soneros of the time. At the infamous Palladium, the mecca of mambo,Tito Rodríguez gave him his first opportunity as a singer. "I wanted to sound just like Tito," remembers Feliciano. "His perfectionism and professionalism were an example to follow. Tito was my teacher, mentor and advisor. He recommended me to Joe Cuba's sextet." A sonero is established During the '50s, Cheo joined the Joe Cuba Sextet and made it big. The leadership of the great orchestras of Tito Puente, Machito and Tito Rodríguez was coming to an end, and a trend favoring smaller orchestras was established. The Joe Cuba Sextet became a phenomenon, particularly because of the intensity and versatility of the Sabater-Feliciano combination - unequaled in the history of Latin music. Through hits such as "El Pito," "Nina" and "El Ratón" (the latter was reminiscent of his childhood, when the singer and his friends chased rodents with slings), Cheo experienced fame. Sadly, he fell victim to the temptations of controled substances. "At the time, people weren't really aware of drugs and their dangers," he explains. "Most of us experienced all that due to ignorance. Young people are always searching for adventure. We were offered drugs, with the promise that they would make us feel good. We knew nothing of the addiction, illnesses and other consequences that lay ahead." After he spent days wandering about the Latin barrio, Eddie Palmieri reminded him that he was a talented man - that he could stand up. Eddie gave him two tracks - Marcelino Guerra's "Busca Lo Tuyo" and "Ay, Que Rico" - on the 1968 LP Champagne. Fortunately, Cheo was able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. He spent a week at home, deep in reflection. Months later, in December of 1969, he moved to Puerto Rico and became one of the pioneers in the drug foundation Hogares Crea. With a little help from my friends The final realization of Cheo as an artist, and his redemption as a human being, happened thanks to the generosity of a number of friends - Tite Curet Alonso, Tommy Olivencia, Silvio Iglesias - who made a conscious attempt to help him return to singing. Tite and Cheo met in New York, 110th and Madison, the heart of the Latin barrio. They were introduced by Fernando Sterling, a common friend. Back in Puerto Rico, Tite visited him frequently at Hogar Crea. He also introduced him to Jerry Masucci, who signed him as an exclusive artist with Vaya Records. With arrangements by Bobby Valentín and Nick Jiménez, and the songwriting wisdom of Tite Curet Alonso, Feliciano recorded the album Cheo, which includes classic cuts such as "Anacaona" and "Mi Triste Problema." "I always knew that I would write a good song for Cheo," recalled Tite during an interview. "'Anacaona' tells the story of an Indian princess from the Dominican Republic. The Spaniards killed her husband, Prince Caonabo. Romantic themes were at the core of the other songs that I wrote for this album. “Mi Triste Problema” talks about couples that are married in paper, but share no love between them." The only black man whose pores sweat honey Mentioning the name of José ‘Cheo’ Feliciano in 2009 is talking of a veritable gentleman of the stage, an altruistic example of self-realization, and a multifaceted singer who has shone in every Latin genre. During the mambo section of the Tite Curet composition "Trizas," Cheo points out that he is "the only black man whose pores sweat honey" - an allusion to his innate romanticism. This collection could not be complete without "Amada Mía" by José Nogueras, and "Juguete" by Bobby Capó, boasting a string arrangement by Argentine producer Jorge Calandrelli, who became internationally famous through his work for Cheo. "When Tito Rodríguez died, Fania tried to turn Cheo into a new version of Tito," explained Tite Curet. "It didn't work out, because Tito was sui generis, and Cheo was different. He found his way again with the album Estampas." The voice of the salsa chronicle If we strive to be true to the real story of José ‘Cheo’ Feliciano - the man and his music - the exercise of documenting his relationship to song demands that we underscore the fact that, just like salsa would not exist without Tite Curet, Cheo's career would not have enjoyed the prestige and credibility that it did without Tite's songs. Tite was Cheo's "musical tailor." And without Cheo's voice, Tite's chronicles - inspired in real life - would not have transcended with such eloquence and social impact. "Anacaona," "Pa' que afinquen" and "Mi triste problema" A successful trilogy of songs, culled from Cheo's debut LP for the Vaya label. Released in 1971, the album was a virtual passport to the gathering of Fania stars at the Cheetah club. This was more than deserved for Cheo, since he was a veteran of the jam sessions held by the Tico and Alegre All Stars at the Village Gate. "Anacaona". The sequel to this song is titled "Canoabo." Cheo did not record it. "Pa' Que Afinquen" is a tasty son that finds Cheo admitting that other singers took advantage of his long absence from the music scene. However, he has no trouble recapturing the spotlight, because he sings from the heart and without skipping the clave - like a few of his competitors do. "Mi Triste Problema" describes the tragedy of the man who lives with a lady whom he doesn't love anymore - either to keep up appearances, for fear of what people may say, or because of a contract or promise made to God. "Armonioso Cantar" and "Naborí" In 1973, following the album of boleros with strings La Voz Sensual that Jorge Calandrelli had produced the previous year, Tite and Cheo met again for the project With A Little Help From My Friend. The sequel to "Pa' Que Afinquen," "Armonioso Cantar" is another delightful son where Cheo reclaims his leadership as a sonero who feels "the rhythm in his heart." The story of a man who is exploited during the time of the Caribbean sugar plantations, "Naborí" tackles the issue of racial discrimination. "Estampa marina" and "Los Entierros" Two classics of narrative salsa, recorded in 1979. "Estampa Marina" was inspired by the experiences of fishermen from the region of Vieques de Loíza, Puerto Rico, who went fishing with the uncertainty of their return - quite often, the sea would punish their humble boats, bringing sorrow and despair to their families. Tite wrote "Estampa II: El Regreso," but Cheo has never recorded it. "Los Entierros" stems from Tite witnessing a funeral procession in the community of Nemesio R. Canales in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. The family of the deceased was so poor, that the flowers in the procession were made out of paper. One of the greats Today, José ‘Cheo’ Feliciano is the dean of all salsa singers, with over five decades of pure feeling and flavor. Considering his trajectory, Cheo is clearly one of the five most emblematic vocalists in the history of salsa. In no particular order, since each one of these is in a class of his very own, Cheo is a legend - together with Ismael Rivera, Héctor Lavoe, Rubén Blades and Celia Cruz. Just like Cheo, these artists sing truthfully, and they have always brought joy to people. Liner notes by Jaime Torres-Torres
Born William Anthony Colón Román on April 28, 1950, Willie Colón almost single-handedly redefined salsa as a movement and way of life. Originally a trumpeter and a self-taught trombonist, his lack of technical virtuosity did not hinder him from becoming salsa’s trombone icon par excellence. A native Nuyorican, Colón grew up in the 1960s and unavoidably, some of the turbulence of the era was reflected in his music and personal life. He led his own ensembles practically from the start, and his talent was first spotted by the visionary Al Santiago, the owner/manager of the legendary Casa Alegre Record Store and founder of the Alegre Records label. (Colón was once Al’s employee and first met his future signature vocalist Héctor Juan Pérez Martínez, a.k.a. Héctor Lavoe, in the store.) His album debut for Santiago’s Futura label was never realized as financial mayhem led Santiago to fold. However, the master tapes came to the attention of Johnny Pacheco at the nascent Fania Records label, whose keen ears spotted a diamond in the rough. Pacheco didn’t hesitate; he signed the band on the spot. The rest, as some would say, is history. With a prolific career spanning more than 40 years, Willie Colón is still a leading force within the Latino community. This set, produced with the direct input from the maestro himself, proudly illustrates some of its definitive milestones. Disc One 1. The Hustler – The title track of Willie’s 1968 Fania follow-up demonstrates the developing identity of his band. The approach is more confident, yet there is still the raw quality of their debut “El Malo”. Hear an 18-year-old and future Fania All Star Nicky Marrero marking his territory with a stunning performance on timbales. The late Mark Dimond, an extremely gifted talent who lost his way amidst the turmoil of the time, was the new piano player. In addition to The Hustler, he played on Guisando and Cosa Nuestra before forming his own band in 1970. The 18-year-old Willie was yet to develop his own style on trombone, but at this stage in his career it was all about guts. Apparently it was the influence and inspiration of Barry Rogers and Mon Rivera, together with the loss of his trumpet skills through abuse of the higher register a la Roy Román, which prompted his switch to trombone. 2. El Malo – The tough guy has arrived…and he’s got the guts (and heart) to prove it! This was Willie’s calling card from his 1967 debut album on Fania. Legend has it that it was older musicians mocking Willie’s limited range on the trombone at the time who bestowed the moniker “El Malo”. However, he capitalized on it and built a tough, street smart image around him, giving the nickname a whole new significance. His band at this point, also criticized and stigmatized as amateurish, consisted of future legends in their raw form, like bassists Eddie “Guagua” Rivera and Joe Santiago (formerly a trombonist), percussionists Nicky Marrero, Mario Galagarza and Pablito Rosario, and pianist Dwight Brewster. Héctor Lavoe, joining the band at Johnny Pacheco’s recommendation, perfectly complemented Willie’s initial rough and edgy approach to the music. New York’s Latin scene would never be the same. 3. El Titan – The band’s sound displays a growing maturity here. Check how the brass section switches places with the bass/piano accompaniment at one point as the latter duo takes over the main melody while the trombones lock in with the rhythm. 4. Che-Che Colé – Willie’s rise to fame resulted from this breakthrough single (included in 1969’s Cosa Nuestra), an adaptation of a Ghanaian kiddie song set on top of an ingeniously constructed bomba/calypso mix. The popularity of this song led to further rhythmic experiments from the laboratory of Colón and percussionists Milton Cardona and José Mangual Jr. (both debuting on this album), which they dubbed “Wacco rhythms”, including 1970’s “Ghana’ E”, 1973’s “El Dia De Suerte” and the following track… 5. Panameña – This song from Willie’s sixth Fania release The Big Break (1970) marked a very important turning point in his early career. All it took was the daring insertion of a Puerto Rican aguinaldo bridge and chorus into what was meant to be a Cuban danzonete for all hell to let loose. Bringing traditional jibaro folkloric music - dismissed by most young Nuyoricans back then as old folks’ music - into the salsa stew was viewed by many as a slap in the face of many musicologists who maintain up to today that salsa is just an umbrella term to market Cuban music. Willie’s pan-American approach to salsa - instead of purely Afro-Cuban, as was the norm then - caused so much of a stir that it prompted a redefinition of the genre. It took bandleaders as progressive as Willie, such as Eddie Palmieri and his fusions with jazz and African-American soul and Richie Ray’s takes on Puerto Rican jala-jala (a rhythm purportedly invented by Roberto Roena), to push the envelope for good. His bad boy image also got a boost from Izzy Sanabria’s magisterial album cover concept for The Big Break. Izzy employed cheap 25-cent pics of Willie and random fingerprints from a “most wanted” sheet to portray him as an FBI fugitive - well, a fake FBI, as in Freaks Bureau of Investigations. The advertising and the original artwork made so much of a commotion that the real FBI demanded that Fania Records remove the “Wanted by FBI” tag from the cover. Daring music and daring advertising combined to create a totally rewarding success. 6. La Murga – Willie’s exploration of Puerto Rican folkloric music reached its apex on 1970’s Asalto Navideño, Volume 1, another landmark album. By adding the traditional cuatro puertorriqueño to the mix (in the expert hands of Roberto García and seasoned veteran Yomo Toro, who made his salsa debut on this session) and revisiting traditional Christmas songs adapted to the band’s format as well as new songs written for the occasion, Willie and company closed the gap between the Puerto Rican communities in New York and the island. And, with this salute to Panama, the high point of the album, they expanded the party to all Latinos in the USA and beyond. 7. Piraña – Disguised under its apparently easy-going feel lies one of the cleverest and most creative arrangements ever heard in a salsa song. If you listen closely to this track from 1972’s El Juicio, Willie’s trombones actually dialogue with Lavoe’s voice in typical call-and-response fashion during the main theme. After the trombone section’s opening quote from Tizol’s jazz standard “Caravan”, try identifying the song snippets as they interact with the singer? Professor Joe Torres’ tasty piano solo provides the icing on the cake. 8. Soñando Despierto – Bad boy fame had its consequences. Conguero Milton Cardona, recalling those days, says that to be a Willie Colón band member you had to be both a musician and a good fighter, literally, as some of their gigs actually ended up in brawls. The combination of Willie’s low-tolerance temper and Héctor’s in-your-face (agitador) savvy reputedly added to the volatile climate. Tite Curet Alonso relates that during one of the band’s many gigs in New York, an elderly man approached Lavoe and asked if the band could play a danza. Puzzled by the request, Lavoe whispered to Willie: “What’s wrong with this jibaro guy?” without realizing that he was being overheard. The jibaro got understandably angry and beat the hell out of Héctor. Hence Héctor’s brash dedication over the Puerto Rican danza bridge to this track from 1972’s El Juicio: “Para ti, mother… flower”. The guy got his danza request at the end! 9.Calle Luna, Calle Sol – From 1973’s top selling album Lo Mato, this tune proved to be particularly controversial. While the lyrics stay true to Willie and Héctor’s style of narrating everyday barrio life, many salseros in Puerto Rico’s capital city were unhappy with the depiction of the two Old San Juan streets mentioned in the song title. Many residents of the notorious La Perla area were enraged by the implicit stigmatization of their neighborhood in Lavoe’s soneo: “Dile que fuiste a La Perla y pela’o te han deja’o” (“Tell ‘em you went to La Perla and they left you penniless”). Nevertheless, the tune became a big hit for the duo. In more recent shows, Willie’s opts for political correctness by substituting The Bronx for La Perla whenever he sings the soneo in Puerto Rico. 10.La Banda – Fania sprinkled the 1973 Christmas season with five albums involving most of their top artists. Sonora Ponceña recorded in Puerto Rico; Cheo Feliciano had a virtual Fania All Stars reunion for his release; Ismael Miranda and Adalberto Santiago appeared as guests on Impacto Crea’s session; Santos Colón delivered a romantic album; and of course they asked Willie to serveup a second helping of his successful Christmas stew. Willie’s two Asaltos are still widely regarded as the top Christmas salsa albums of all time, and more than 30 years after their original release they are still Fania’s top sellers. 11.Junio ’73 – Willie’s original band was at its peak at the time Lo Mato was recorded. Check out Barry Rogers’ ghost cameo on trombone here, taking over Eric Matos’ seat for this song and, in master/protégé mode, setting up Willie as they trade bars and leads. (Willie revealed this previously unknown fact during the preparation of this project.) Louie Romero crowns the number with a ruthless timbale explosion. Lo Mato was recorded in two sessions. The credits printed on the original album jacket are for the first session; the second coincided with those of Asalto Navideño, Volume 2 and included Yomo on cuatro and Adalberto Santiago subbing for Justo on coro. Notably, Willie also adds background vocals to the recording. 12. Pena De Amor – For this experimental session from 1975’s There Goes The Neighborhood, Willie teamed up with the dean of the trombone sound: Mon Rivera. Straight out of prison at the time, Rivera was not only a pioneer of the trombone frontline, but also one of New York’s foremost authorities on the Afro-Boricua tradition. It was only fitting that Willie rescued Rivera’s legacy for the new generation with this session, which resulted in Rivera landing a recording deal with Vaya Records. Another Latin legend, Francisco “Kako” Bastar, guested on the recording playing timbales and quinto. Willie backed Rivera on his final session, 1978’s Forever, which was released posthumously. 13. MC2 – 1975’s The Good, The Bad, The Ugly is Willie’s transitional album par excellence. After breaking up his original band, Willie came back with a totally experimental session, expanding his frontline with trumpets and saxes, flirting directly with Brazilian, flamenco, rock and jazz/funk influences and debuting as a solo vocalist on three tracks. MC2 is a daring funk-meets-Latin experiment with Yomo’s cuatro sharing the spotlight against Elliott Randall’s rock guitar. Mangual Jr.’s bongo work adds extra fireworks. This song and the following two tracks are deliberately sequenced to showcase the evolution of Willie’s big band approach. 14. Apartamento 21 – 1977’s Baquiné De Angelitos Negros, a salsa-ballet written for a TV special, saw Willie developing the concept he began in ’75 by adding a string section and more complex arrangements into the mix. This rather sophisticated percussion jam was the high point of the album and its only single. Cardona truly takes command of this song with his melodic approach on his three congas and his interaction with bongosero Mangual Jr. 15. Juancito – It was hard to choose just two songs from the Solo album, but this tour de force just had to be included. Willie not only delivers a stunning performance as a singer and arranger, but he also raises his game as a composer with one of his most impressive lyrical narratives, telling the tale of a young and naïve campesino as he moves to New York City and struggles his way to prosperity. Check out Mauricio Smith’s flute virtuosity and Nestor Sánchez’s outstanding tenor voice in the background vocals. Disc Two 1. Chinacubana – Willie’s big band explorations climaxed on 1979’s Solo, which also marked his official debut as a solo singer. Sure, there were strings in Latin music long before this session, but this was the true birth of the “symphonic salsa” concept. Solo also marked the end of his gangster look, as he clean shaved and left behind the bad boy image for good, or at least for the rest of the ’70s. 2. Zambúllete – Willie and Celia Cruz’s first collaboration Only They Could Have Made This Album (1977) proved to be a challenge for both performers. This was an unprecedented opportunity for Celia to showcase her versatility and extricate herself from the mighty shadow of her Sonora Matancera fame, perpetuated in her recordings with Johnny Pacheco’s Tumbao. Willie viewed this pairing with Celia as his formal inclusion in the big league. Catering to her style without losing his musical grip was a challenge in itself. Here he prescribes Celia a dose of Panamanian tamborito for another of his pan-American salsa fusions. Check out the bass work from Sal Cuevas, whose name was mistakenly omitted from the album’s credits. 3.Pedro Navaja – Willie and Rubén’s second collaboration, 1978’s Siembra, was the first salsa album to sell a million units and is still widely regarded as the best selling salsa release ever. All seven songs on the album were strong hits, especially the title track, “Pedro Navaja” and “Buscando Guayaba”, where Rubén’s now famous scat solo filled-in for a missing Yomo Toro. Rubén’s tale about Fania bosses Johnny Pacheco and Jerry Masucci disliking the album before it hit the record stores is now famous. According to Blades, Pacheco complained that the lyrics in “Pedro Navaja” were too long to consider the number for single release. Needless to say, Willie and Rubén proved them both wrong because this track, “Siembra” and “Plastico” (a parody-style ode to materialism and shallowness), although not necessarily fitting Pacheco’s idea of danceable music, became classics. 4. Siembra – Arranger Carlos Franzetti had double work on the album’s title track. After delivering the original chart he was then asked to write a strings score overnight. According to Jimmy Delgado, timbale player for this set, the song ended up being recorded faster than intended thanks to Sal Cuevas deliberately accelerating the tempo because he was in a hurry to make it to jinglerecording session! 5. Biata – Ismael Miranda made a triumphant return to salsa after a brief retirement by teamingup with Willie for 1980’s Doble Energía, from which this track originates. Despite heavy pressure to deliver the project within deadline - hence Willie not being wholly satisfied with the result – he bought the best out of Miranda’s vocal range. “Biata” is one of the experimental tracks of the session, with heavy strings dominating the impressive mix of 6/8 batá drumming, rumba, bomba and rock inflections. 6. Amor Verdadero – This and the following cut are from Willie’s 1981 bestselling solo followup Fantasmas. The overwhelming popularity of “Amor Verdadero” - an experimental fusion of Dominican merengue with the hustle/disco beat - virtually obligated him to attempt to emulate its success on further recordings like “Amor Barato” and “Noche De Enmascarados”, both penned by Brazilian composer Chico Buarque. 7. Toma Mis Manos – Willie’s lyrics on this cut are simply a masterpiece. For most of the song we get the impression that an over-confident Latin lover is narrating the story, however the seducer turns out to be none other than Death itself. Even more stunning is the fact that the inspiration for this song was the unexpected death of Willie’s only sibling: sister Cindy, who sang background vocals in some of his late ’70s sessions. 8. Juanito Alimaña – The 1983 album Vigilante was promoted as the soundtrack for a Fred Williamson movie in which Willie portrays a ruthless gang member, unavoidably returning him to his young Malote image. The four-song album marked the reunion of Willie with his compadre and former singer Lavoe. It was released after Willie and Rubén’s infamous split and following their movie, Masucci’s The Last Fight (1982), which flopped and put Fania in serious financial trouble. Lavoe sings a soneo in “Juanito Alimaña” about the funeral of Rubén’s ever-popular character Pedro Navaja, which many regarded as a subliminal hint. Rubén’s decision to resuscitate the character for his 1985 song “Sorpresas” fuelled further speculation. 9. Corazón Guerrero – This is the title track of the rather obscure 1983 follow-up to the popular Fantasmas album. A clearly non-commercial release, this album only yielded two singles: the hit “Casanova” and this track, where Willie lets loose on trombone for the last time – for Fania, that is! 1982 to ’83 was a very active period for Willie. Besides Vigilante, The Last Fight and Corazón Guerrero (and several outtakes from The Last Fight morphing into further Rubén “solo” releases for Fania after he left the label), Willie and his band produced two sessions outside Fania Records. 10. Callejón Sin Salida – This cut emanates from Willie’s farewell album for Fania, 1984’s Tiempo Pa’ Matar – and he pulled-out all the stops. Salsa meets reggae roots!! With a large, star-studded cast that included the late piano great Jorge Dalto, this album yielded the ever-popular hits “Gitana” and the title track, as well as the lead single “Falta De Consideracion”. 11.Un Bembe Pa’ Yemayá – Celia and Willie’s The Winners was the last pairing of these two salsa icons, and yielded a Grammy nomination. Willie convened a deluxe five-trombone section (Barry Rogers, Steve Turre, Papo Vázquez, Leopoldo Pineda and Lewis Kahn) for a largely conventional session tailor-made for Celia. 12. Nunca Se Acaba – Fittingly, this collection concludes this with a bold declaration of principles from 1989’s “Top Secrets”, Willie’s very last album for Fania (actually his own production, licensed to Fania in the US) presenting his current band Legal Aliens. A call for Latino pride and a confirmation of his salsa icon status, Willie tells the listener that, no matter how many new musical idioms pop out of nowhere, salsa is far from being a sound from the past. And keep in mind that this statement comes from a guy who, in his own way, has tackled many of these idioms as they have come and gone. As long as bold musical forces like Willie Colón continue to deliver good music for the mind, as well as for happy feet, salsa music will be here to stay. La salsa nunca se acaba… Willie Colón at a photo shoot for the LP The Original Gangster.Willie Colón Courtesy of Miguel Lopez Archives
The history of the Fania All Stars, Fania Records' flagship supergroup comprising of the label's bandleaders, top sidemen and vocalists, represents the rise and promulgation of salsa as a marketing tag for Latin music. Italian-American lawyer Jerry Masucci (1934-1997), who co-founded Fania in 1964 with Dominican Republic-born bandleader Johnny Pacheco, explained the genesis and early development of the band in a 1973 piece entitled The Story of the Fania All Stars: "In December 1967, I was vacationing in Acapulco. I was out fishing and when I got back I received a phone call from New York from two promoters: Jack Hooke (1916-1999) and Ralph Mercado of Cheetah fame (a club on the southwest corner of 52nd Street and 8th Avenue, which Mercado co-managed in the '60s, promoting R&B acts like James Brown and Aretha Franklin). At that time they were holding concerts at the Red Garter (in Greenwich Village) Monday nights and were interested in getting the Fania All Stars together to do a jam session with invited guests Tito Puente and Eddie Palmieri of Tico Records and Ricardo Ray and Bobby Cruz of Alegre Records. It sounded like a good idea to me, so I flew back and got in touch with Johnny Pacheco. We put some material together and packed the place with 800 people. We also made the first two recordings of the Fania All Stars: Live At The Red Garter Vols. 1 & 2 (1968), although the albums were not too spectacular regarding sales." This anthology opens with a track from the first Red Garter volume, "Me Gusta El Son" featuring Pacheco's ex-vocalist Monguito (died: 26 May 2006) who was just beginning his solo career at the time, and solos from piano maestro Eddie Palmieri and trombonist Barry Rogers (1935-1991,) with whom Palmieri developed the two trombone and flute sound of his seminal Conjunto La Perfecta at the beginning of the '60s. "At that concert," continued Masucci, "I got the idea to make a movie. In 1971, I was ready to begin production of the second Fania All Stars concert, which would be recorded and filmed live. My first idea was to hold it at the Fillmore East for exposure to both rock and black audiences. However, we were unable to get the Fillmore, so we contacted different promoters about various places, but they turned us down, saying that a concert by the Fania All Stars was a bad idea and that it wouldn't draw. I called Ralph Mercado who thought it might work, but would make no deals. I was to give him the act free, make a record, film the concert and he would promote and take the door. Since no one else wanted it, I made the deal according to his terms. We held the concert on (26 August 1971) a Thursday night (Ralph wouldn't give us Friday or Saturday). The Cheetah held 2,000 people and no one thought we would sell-out. But the night of the concert 4,000 people squeezed into the Cheetah and the lines outside stretched around the block. Volumes 1 and 2 of the Live At The Cheetah, which were recorded that night, became the biggest selling Latin albums ever produced by one group from one concert." The Cheetah concert formed the backbone of the electrifying documentary Our Latin Thing (Nuestra Cosa), which premiered in New York on 19 July 1972 and played a key role in launching salsa on the worldwide stage. It is fitting therefore that this collection features three Cheetah cuts, "Descarga Fania," a springboard for an array of solos, "Anacaona" and "Quítate Tú," all taken from Volume 1. "Anacaona" was a hit single (selling over 140,000 copies) from Cheo Feliciano's 1971 solo debut album Cheo on Fania's subsidiary Vaya label, composed by the revered Catalino "Tite" Curet Alonso (1926-2003), who co-produced and wrote most of the project. Larry Harlow, who played piano on Cheo and soloed on the original version of "Anacaona," also takes a solo on the Cheetah version. Masucci's all-time favourite, "Quítate Tú," a tune inspired by a narrow door in which the singers try to outdo each other with their improvised lyrics, is the edited single version, which has never been anthologised before. By 1973, the Fania All Stars were on a roll. Despite advice to the contrary, Masucci took the bold step of booking New York's massive Yankee Stadium for a salsa concert on Friday 24 August 1973. "They thought we were crazy," said Masucci. "But I rented the place for one night for $180,000 cash." Before the event, he ambitiously predicted in The Story of the Fania All Stars that: "this concert will revolutionize the music business like the Beatles in the early '60s and Woodstock in 1969." His gamble paid off, because the event attracted a crowd of about 45,000 and demonstrated that the All Stars had literally become Latin music's first stadium band. They went on to debut in San Juan, Puerto Rico, opening the new Roberto Clemente Coliseum, and toured Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Panama and Mexico. Material from the Yankee Stadium and Roberto Clemente Coliseum concerts were issued in the album Latin-Soul-Rock (1974) and in two volumes of Live At Yankee Stadium (1975; Vol. 1 received a Grammy nomination). Clips from these concerts were also included in Masucci's movie production Salsa (1976), the soundtrack album of which received a Grammy nomination. It is from the San Juan concert that the never before released version of Cheo Feliciano's incredible vocal performance of "El Ratón" (The Mouse) is taken, featuring a fantastic cuatro solo from Yomo Toro. The band performs the song at a slower pace than the more familiar version from Latin-Soul-Rock. "El Ratón", which Cheo originally wrote and sang when he was a member of the Joe Cuba Sextet for their album Vagabundeando! Hangin' Out (Tico Records, 1964) refers to a snitch and became one of his trademark tunes. The Live At Yankee Stadium albums are represented here by three cuts: "Mi Debilidad", "Mi Gente", "Hermandad Fania" and "Bemba Colorá". "Mi Debilidad", sung and written by guest artist Ismael Quintana (Eddie Palmieri's vocalist between 1961 and 1973), is the opening track from the first of five solo albums he made for Vaya between 1974 and 1983. Larry Harlow pitches in a notable solo. "Hermandad Fania" showcases the talents of the song's co-writers/arrangers: guest stars Ricardo Ray, who takes an ingenious piano solo, and vocalist Bobby Cruz, who both signed to Vaya in 1971 and remained with the label until 1987. Nicky Marrero contributes a striking timbales and Swanee whistle solo. "Mi Gente" (My People), a Pacheco composition Héctor Lavoe (1946-1993) also recorded for his 1975 Fania solo debut album La Voz, became an anthem of pride among Latin audiences. Another guest star from the Vaya roster, Celia Cruz (1924-2003), the undisputed "Queen of Salsa", made her Fania All Stars album debut on Live at Yankee Stadium Vol. 2 with a show stopping reprise of her 1966 track "Bemba Colorá" ("Red Lips", originally from Son Con Guaguancó on Tico produced by Al Santiago: 1932-1996). "Los Muchachos de Belén" from the All Stars' first full studio album Tribute to Tito Rodríguez (recorded in 1975 and released the following year) marked another debut, that of the multitalented Rubén Blades. With the band of conguero Ray Barretto (1929-2006) at the time, Blades' swinging rendition was one of nine Tito Rodríguez classics recorded by the superstar aggregation in homage to the great Mambo King, who had died from leukaemia at the early age of 50 in 1973. Fittingly, the project was co-produced by Rodríguez' former musical director Louie Ramírez (1938-1993), who went on to play a key part in the band's productions. Fellow co-producer, Larry Harlow, a founder member of the Fania All Stars who worked on all their 1968 to 1975 albums and appeared with them in the films Our Latin Thing (which he co-produced), Live In Africa (1974; for which he produced the music) and Salsa, departed after Tribute to Tito Rodríguez. Pianist Papo Lucca, the musical director, arranger and producer of Puerto Rico's oldest active band, Sonora Ponceña, replaced him. 1975-6 was a pivotal period in relation to Masucci's pursuit of a wider market for salsa: he made deals with Columbia Records in the USA (for a series of four crossover-oriented albums by a reduced version of the Fania All Stars) and Island Records in the UK (resulting in the release of a compilation and two Fania All Stars' albums). 1976 was also the year the All Stars performed in Europe, notably at the MIDEM festival in Cannes, France, and London's Lyceum Ballroom, and in Japan. The band's predominately salsa-lite Columbia period is represented by the big bold salsa hit "Juan Pachanga", not the slick studio production from 1977's Rhythm Machine, but a new mix of the song sung live by Blades at their historic concert in the 4,800 seat Karl Marx Theatre on 3 March 1979 in Havana, Cuba, featuring a blistering trumpet solo from Juancito Torres (1936-2003). Still under contract to Columbia, the All Stars were part of a contingent of CBS superstars who performed at that year's Havana Jam festival as part of a musical exchange between the US and Cuba. Back on the Fania imprint, a supersize version of the band weighted in with Live (1978) recorded at Madison Square Garden, featuring another All Stars debut: "El Sonero Mayor" Ismael Rivera (1931-1987) singing on two cuts, including the track compiled here, "Cúcala", in duet with Celia Cruz. From 1980, Fania went into a downturn (attributed to the flop of Masucci's major movie The Last Fight; agitation by artists for unpaid royalties; the distribution deals with Columbia and Atlantic Records not catapulting salsa into the mainstream US market as expected; and Masucci claiming he had tired of "the same old thing" after 15 years); and the New York salsa scene, to which the label was inextricably linked, became eclipsed by the Dominican merengue craze in the first half of the decade and by the Puerto Rico-driven salsa romántica trend in the latter '80s and '90s. Reflecting the company's decline, Fania All Stars' releases slowed to a trickle as the '80s drew to a close. Their albums between 1980 and 1989 included the Latin jazz outings California Jam (1980) and the particularly feeble Guasasa (1989); the crossover effort Social Change (1981) with guests Steel Pulse and Gato Barbieri; Bamboleo (1988) with four salsa-fied versions of Gypsy Kings hits; along with the sturdier salsa albums Commitment (1980), Latin Connection (1981), Lo Que Pide La Gente (1984) and Viva La Charanga (1986). The decidedly jazzy "Vente Conmigo" compiled here is purportedly one of the "lost" sessions recorded by the "The Fania All Star Six" (Pacheco, Barretto, bassist Bobby Valentín, bongosero Roberto Roena, pianist Papo Lucca and timbalero Nicky Marrero) for the first Columbia outing Delicate And Jumpy (1976) that Fania collected on 1980's California Jam. Commitment, the band's "official" return to fully blown típico salsa after their crossover foray, is represented by two cuts. The album's opener, "Encántigo", sung by Celia Cruz and Pete "El Conde" Rodríguez (1933-2000), was penned by Puerto Rican nueva trova singer Roy Brown and sumptuously arranged by his compatriot Luis García. Described by Masucci as "a special new talent and friend", García formerly led and played trombone and tres with Latin Tempo, who made three albums for Fania's International label between 1972 and 1977. The next track from Commitment, the sparkling "Cuando Despiertes", is sung by Celia and arranged and co-written by Louie Ramírez. Latin Connection also merits two selections. Firstly "Dime Qué Te Pasa" featuring the effortless vocals of Adalberto Santiago, the song's composer, and arranged by the multitalented José Madera, a stalwart member of the Machito and Tito Puente organisations. Secondly, a version of the Guillermo Rodríguez Fiffe standard "Bilongo" interpreted by Ismael Rivera (his last recording with the band and reportedly the penultimate session before his death) and arranged by Javier Vázquez, the musical director of his band Los Cachimbos. After a gap of three years, the band issued Lo Que Pide La Gente, the highlight of which is collected here, "El Rey De La Puntualidad" (The King of Punctuality) arranged by Luis García and sung by Héctor Lavoe. Written by Pacheco, it pokes fun at Lavoe's notorious bad timekeeping. Two years later, Viva La Charanga augmented the band with violins to create the charanga sound suggested by the album title. Lewis Kahn, a veteran of Orchestra Harlow, the Fania All Stars and the Tito Puente orchestra, was bought in after the album was recorded to overdub a violin solo on the selection "Vacila Con Tu Trago", sung by Pete "El Conde" and arranged by Isidro Infante. To mark the 20th anniversary of the band, Live In Africa, recorded in Zaire in 1974, and Live In Japan 1976 were issued in 1986. Thirty years of Fania Records was commemorated in 1994 by a three-city tour (San Juan, Miami and New York) by the reconvened All Stars. The recording of their June 1994 concert at Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, P.R., was issued as "Live" (1995), co-produced by Larry Harlow. It is from this album that the final selection on this anthology comes, "Quítate La Máscara", a tour de force by Adalberto Santiago of his hit with the Ray Barretto band from the 1970 album Power. The last proper Fania All Stars album, Bravo, was released on Jerry Masucci Music - Sony in 1997, the year Masucci died. Written by John Child, contributor to Descarga.com DISC 1 1/ Me Gusta El Son 8:12 (from Live At The Red Garter, Vol. 1, 1968; singer: Monguito; piano solo: Eddie Palmieri; trombone solo: Barry Rogers) 2/ Descarga Fania 9:12 (from Live at the Cheetah, Vol. 1, 1971; solos: Bobby Valentín, bass; Larry Harlow, piano; Johnny Pacheco, flute; Orestes Vilató, timbales; Ray Barretto, conga; and brass section; vocals: Adalberto Santiago; arrangement: Ray Barretto and Louie Cruz) 3/ Anacaona 7:16 (from Live at the Cheetah, Vol. 1, 1971 singer: Cheo Feliciano; piano solo: Larry Harlow; trombone solo: Reinaldo Jorge; arranger: Bobby Valentín) 4/ Quítate Tú 5:30 (45 rpm edit from Live at the Cheetah, Vol.1, 1971; soneos [ad lib verses]: Adalberto Santiago, Santos Colón, Cheo Feliciano and Pete "El Conde" Rodríguez; cuatro solo: Yomo Toro; trumpet solo: Roberto Rodríguez; arrangement: Johnny Pacheco and Bobby Valentín) 5/ El Ratón 7:54 (unreleased from Puerto Rico '73; singer: Cheo Feliciano; cuatro solo: Yomo Toro; arranger: Bobby Valentín) 6/ Los Muchachos de Belén 4:41 (from Tribute to Tito Rodríguez, 1976; singer: Rubén Blades; piano solo: Larry Harlow; arranger: Louie Ramírez) 7/ Mi Debilidad 5:38 (from Live At Yankee Stadium Vol. 2, 1975; singer: Ismael Quintana; piano solo: Larry Harlow; arranger: Bobby Valentín) 8/ Mi Gente 6:26 (from Live At Yankee Stadium Vol. 1, 1975; singer: Héctor Lavoe; trombone solo: Willie Colón; arrangers: Johnny Pacheco and Bobby Valentín) 9/ Hermandad Fania 7:21 (from Live At Yankee Stadium Vol. 2, 1975; singer: Bobby Cruz; piano solo: Ricardo Ray; timbales / Swanee whistle solo: Nicky Marrero; arrangers: Ricardo Ray and Bobby Cruz) 10/ Bemba Colorá 11:50 (from Live At Yankee Stadium Vol. 2, 1975; singer: Celia Cruz; arranger: Bobby Valentín) ------------- DISC 2 1/ Vente Conmigo 5:28 (from California Jam, 1980; arrangement: Fania All Stars) 2/ Cúcala 6:53 (from Live, 1978; singers: Celia Cruz and Ismael Rivera) 3/ Juan Pachanga 6:33 (unreleased new mix from the Havana Jam concert recorded on 3 March 1979 in Havana, Cuba; singer: Rubén Blades; trumpet solo: Juancito Torres) 4/ Encántigo 7:57 (from Commitment, 1980; singer: Celia Cruz and Pete "El Conde" Rodríguez; cuatro solo: Yomo Toro; arranger: Luis García) 5/ Cuando Despiertes 5:49 (from Commitment, 1980; singer: Celia Cruz; guest trumpet solo: Luis "Perico" Ortiz; arranger: Louie Ramírez) 6/ Dime Qué Te Pasa 4:52 (from Latin Connection, 1981; singer / composer: Adalberto Santiago; featuring: Roberto Roena, bongo; arranger: José Madera) 7/ Bilongo 5:44 (from Latin Connection, 1981; singer: Ismael Rivera; featuring: Roberto Roena, bongo and Luis "Perico" Ortiz, trumpet; arranger: Javier Vázquez) 8/ El Rey De La Puntualidad 6:42 (from Lo Que Pide La Gente, 1984; singer: Héctor Lavoe; arranger: Luis García) 9/ Vacila Con Tu Trago 5:51 (from Viva La Charanga, 1986; singer: Pete "El Conde" Rodríguez; violin solo: Lewis Kahn; arranger: Isidro Infante) 10/ Quítate La Máscara 10:46 (from Live In Puerto Rico, 1994; singer: Adalberto Santiago; conga solo and chant: Ray Barretto; trumpet solo: Juancito Torres) ---------------- La historia de la Fania All Stars, el supergrupo de la Fania que incluía a los músicos, directores de orquesta y cantantes más importantes de la disquera, representa el ascenso y la promulgación de la salsa como herramienta de mercadeo para la música latina. El abogado italo-estadounidense Jerry Masucci (1934-1997), que fundó la Fania en 1964 junto al director de orquesta dominicano Johnny Pacheco, explicó el nacimiento y desarrollo de la banda en un artículo de 1973 titulado "La historia de la Fania All Stars". "En diciembre de 1967, estaba de vacaciones en Acapulco. Me fui a pescar, y al volver recibí una llamada telefónica desde Nueva York de los promotores Jack Hooke (1916-1999) y Ralph Mercado del Cheetah (un club nocturno en la esquina sudoeste de la calle 52 y la avenida 8 que Mercado ayudaba a administrar en los '60, presentando artistas de R&B como James Brown y Aretha Franklin). En esa época, presentaban conciertos en el Red Garter (en Greenwich Village) los lunes a la noche, y estaban interesados en juntar a la Fania All Stars para formar una descarga junto a los artistas invitados Tito Puente y Eddie Palmieri de Tico Records y Ricardo Ray y Bobby Cruz de Alegre Records. Me pareció una buena idea, y cuando volví contacté a Johnny Pacheco. Preparamos el material del concierto y llenamos la sala con 800 personas. También lanzamos dos grabaciones de la Fania All Stars: Live At The Red Garter Vols. 1 & 2 (1968). Sin embargo, las ventas de estos discos no fueron nada espectaculares". Esta compilación comienza con un tema grabado en el Red Garter. "Me Gusta El Son" incluye a Monguito (fallecido el 26 de mayo de 2006), el ex vocalista de Pacheco que estaba comenzando su carrera como solista, así como solos del maestro del piano Eddie Palmieri y el trombonista Barry Rogers (1935-1991), con el cual Palmieri desarrolló el sonido de dos trombones con flauta de su histórico conjunto La Perfecta a comienzos de los '60. "Durante ese concierto", continúa Masucci, "se me ocurrió la idea de hacer una película. En 1971 estaba listo para comenzar la producción del segundo concierto de la Fania All Stars, que sería grabado y filmado en vivo. Originalmente quería realizarlo en el Fillmore East, para atraer a los amantes del rock y los afroamericanos. No pudimos conseguir el Fillmore y contactamos a los promotores de varios lugares, pero nos rechazaron aludiendo que un concierto de la Fania All Stars no atraería suficiente público. Llamé a Ralph Mercado que pensó que la cosa funcionaría pero no quería cerrar un trato. Su propuesta era que le diera el concierto gratuitamente, que grabara el disco y filmara la película, dejándole a él la promoción y la ganancia de las entradas. Como no había otros interesados, acepté su propuesta. El concierto se realizó un jueves a la noche (Ralph no quería darnos el viernes o sábado) el 26 de agosto de 1971. El Cheetah tenía una capacidad de 2.000 personas, pero nadie pensó que lo llenaríamos. La noche del concierto, 4.000 personas entraron en el Cheetah, y la fila para entrar se extendió alrededor de la esquina. Los dos volúmenes de Live At The Cheetah que fueron grabados esa noche se convirtieron en los discos latinos de mayores ventas grabados en concierto por un sólo grupo. El concierto del Cheetah fue la base del impactante documental Our Latin Thing (Nuestra Cosa), que se estrenó en Nueva York el 19 de julio de 1972 y tuvo un papel clave en el lanzamiento internacional de la salsa. Es por eso que nuestra colección incluye tres temas del Cheetah: "Descarga Fania" con su infinidad de solos, "Anacaona" y "Quítate Tú", todos del primer volúmen. "Anacaona" fue el gran éxito (con más de 140.000 copias vendidas) de Cheo, el debut como solista de Cheo Feliciano en 1971 para Vaya, la subsidiaria de la Fania. El tema fue compuesto por el respetado Catalino "Tite" Curet Alonso (1926-2003), que co-produjo y escribió gran parte de este proyecto. Larry Harlow, que aportó su piano a Cheo y toca el solo en la versión original de "Anacaona", también está a cargo del solo en la versión del Cheetah. El favorito de Masucci, "Quítate Tú" es un tema inspirado en una puerta angosta en el que todos los cantantes intentan superar al otro con sus improvisaciones. Esta es la versión abreviada para discos de corta duración, que nunca había aparecido en una compilación hasta ahora. En 1973, la Fania All Stars parecía imparable. Pese a las advertencias de algunos escépticos, Masucci se animó a alquilar el masivo Yankee Stadium de Nueva York para un concierto de salsa que se llevó a cabo el 24 de agosto de 1973. "La gente pensó que estábamos locos", dijo Masucci. "Pero igual pagué $180.000 en efectivo para alquilar el estadio por una noche". Antes del evento, predijo ambiciosamente en "La Historia de la Fania All Stars" que: "este concierto revolucionará el negocio de la música como lo hicieron Los Beatles a comienzos de los '60 y Woodstock en 1969". El riesgo valió la pena, porque el evento atrajo a unas 45.000 personas, demostrando que la Fania All Stars se había convertido en la primera banda latina capaz de llenar un estadio. Después, las Estrellas se presentaron en el Coliseo Roberto Clemente de San Juan, Puerto Rico, y salieron de gira por Venezuela, la República Dominicana, Panamá y México. El material grabado en los conciertos del Yankee Stadium y el Roberto Clemente fue lanzado en los discos Latin-Soul-Rock (1974) y los dos volúmenes de Live At Yankee Stadium (1975; el volúmen 1 recibió una nominación al Grammy). A su vez, escenas de estos conciertos aparecieron en la película de Masucci Salsa (1976), cuya banda sonora original recibió otra nominación al Grammy. Del concierto de San Juan, tenemos aquí una versión inédita de Cheo Feliciano y "El Ratón", con un excelente solo de cuatro de Yomo Toro. La banda interpreta este tema más lentamente que en la conocida versión de Latin-Soul-Rock. "El Ratón", que Cheo compuso y cantó originalmente cuando era integrante del sexteto de Joe Cuba para el disco Vagabundeando! Hangin' Out (Tico, 1964), se refiere a un soplón - y es uno de sus temas más conocidos. Los discos de Live At Yankee Stadium son representados con cuatro temas: "Mi Debilidad", "Mi Gente", "Hermandad Fania" y "Bemba Colorá". "Mi Debilidad", compuesta e interpretada por Ismael Quintana (el cantante de Eddie Palmieri entre 1961 y 1973) es el tema de apertura del primero de cinco discos como solista que Quintana grabó para Vaya entre 1974 y 1983. Larry Harlow contribuye un solo para el recuerdo. "Hermandad Fania" expone el talento de sus compositores y arreglistas: las estrellas invitadas Ricardo Ray, que se despacha con un ingenioso solo de piano, y el vocalista Bobby Cruz. Ambos firmaron con la disquera Vaya en 1971 y permanecieron con ella hasta 1987. Nicky Marrero contribuye notables solos de timbales y flauta de émbolo. "Mi Gente", una composición de Pacheco que Héctor Lavoe (1946-1993) había grabado en 1975 para La Voz, su debut como solista con la Fania, se convirtió en un himno de orgullo para el público latino. Otra invitada de la disquera Vaya, Celia Cruz (1924-2003), la indiscutible "Reina de la Salsa", realizó su debut con la Fania All Stars en Live at Yankee Stadium Vol. 2 con una impactante versión del tema de 1966 "Bemba Colorá" (originalmente del disco Son Con Guaguancó de la disquera Tico, producido por Al Santiago: 1932-1996). "Los Muchachos de Belén", proveniente del primer disco de estudio de la All Stars, Tribute to Tito Rodríguez (grabado en 1975 y lanzado el año siguiente) marcó otro debut - el del talentoso Rubén Blades. Trabajando en ese momento con la orquesta del conguero Ray Barretto (1929-2006), Blades interpretó una de nueve canciones clásicas de Tito Rodríguez grabadas por las Estrellas como homenaje al "Rey del Mambo", que había fallecido de leucemia en 1973, a los 50 años de edad. El proyecto fue co-producido por el ex director musical de Rodríguez, Louie Ramírez (1938-1993), que continuaría gozando de una participación importante en los futuros discos de la banda. El otro co-productor fue Larry Harlow, integrante fundador de la Fania All Stars. Harlow participó en los discos grabados entre 1968 y 1975, apareciendo en las películas Our Latin Thing (que también co-produjo), Live In Africa (1974; para la cual produjo la música) y Salsa, y dejó la banda luego de Tribute to Tito Rodríguez. El pianista Papo Lucca, director musical, arreglista y productor de la orquesta activa más vieja de Puerto Rico, La Sonora Ponceña, fue su reemplazante. Los años 1975 y 1976 fueron cruciales en cuanto a Masucci y su ambición de ampliar el mercado de la salsa: cerró tratos con Columbia en los Estados Unidos (por una serie de cuatro discos de alcance masivo grabados por una versión reducida de la Fania All Stars) e Island Records en Inglaterra (resultando en el lanzamiento de una compilación y dos discos de la Fania All Stars). 1976 fue el año en que las Estrellas presentaron conciertos en Europa - notablemente en el festival MIDEM de Cannes, Francia y el Lyceum Ballroom de Londres y también en Japón. La época de Columbia y su salsa ligera, es representada aquí por el éxito "Juan Pachanga". No se trata de la versión de estudio incluida en el disco Rhythm Machine de 1977, sino de una nueva mezcla grabada en vivo por Blades durante el histórico concierto realizado en el teatro Karl Marx (4.800 asientos) de La Habana el 3 de marzo de 1979, con un candente solo de trompeta interpretado por Juancito Torres (1936-2003). Todavía bajo contrato con Columbia, la orquesta fue parte de un grupo de estrellas de la CBS que participaron en el festival Havana Jam como parte de un intercambio musical entre Cuba y los Estados Unidos. Mientras tanto, el sello Fania continuó con la versión grande de la orquesta y el disco Live (1978) grabado en el Madison Square Garden, que incluía otro debut: el del "Sonero Mayor" Ismael Rivera (1931-1987) cantando dos temas, incluyendo "Cúcala" (a dúo con Celia Cruz), que aparece en esta compilación. Desde 1980, Fania sufrió una decadencia (atribuida al fracaso de la película de Masucci The Last Fight; la agitación de los artistas por derechos de autor sin cobrar; los tratos con Columbia y Atlantic Records que no catapultaron a la salsa al mercado estadounidense como se había esperado; y Masucci declarando que estaba cansado de "hacer siempre lo mismo" después de 15 años). A su vez, la escena de la salsa neoyorquina, a la cual la disquera estaba inexorablemente unida, fue eclipsada por la moda del merengue dominicano durante la primera mitad de la década, y por la corriente puertorriqueña de la salsa romántica durante la segunda mitad de los '80 y los '90. Reflejando el declive de la compañía, los lanzamientos de la Fania All Stars fueron pocos durante esta época. Los discos lanzados entre 1980 y 1989 fueron los experimentos de jazz latino California Jam (1980) y el débil Guasasa (1989); el intento de alcanzar un mercado más amplio en Social Change (1981) con Steel Pulse y Gato Barbieri como artistas invitados; Bamboleo (1988) con cuatro versiones salsosas de éxitos de los Gypsy Kings; así como los discos más sólidos de salsa Commitment (1980), Latin Connection (1981), Lo Que Pide La Gente (1984) y Viva La Charanga (1986). Un tema jazzero que aparece aquí es "Vente Conmigo", perteneciente a las "sesiones perdidas" grabadas por el "Fania All Star Six" (Pacheco, Barretto, el bajista Bobby Valentín, el bongosero Roberto Roena, el pianista Papo Lucca y el timbalero Nicky Marrero) para el primer disco con Columbia Delicate And Jumpy (1976) que la Fania recopiló en 1980 bajo el título de California Jam. Commitment, el regreso "oficial" del grupo al sonido típico de la salsa, es representado por dos cortes. El tema de apertura, "Encántigo", interpretado por Celia Cruz y Pete “El Conde” Rodríguez (1933-2000) fue escrito por el cantante puertorriqueño de la nueva trova Roy Brown, y orquestado suntuosamente por su compatriota Luis García. Presentado por Masucci como "un nuevo talento y amigo especial", García había dirigido y tocado trombón y tres con Latin Tempo, un grupo que realizó tres discos para la disquera International de Fania entre 1972 y 1977. El otro tema de Commitment es el centelleante "Cuando Despiertes", interpretado por Celia Cruz y co-escrito y orquestado por Louie Ramírez. Latin Connection amerita la inclusión de dos temas: "Dime Qué Te Pasa", con la estupenda voz de Adalberto Santiago, su compositor, y los arreglos del talentoso José Madera, glorioso integrante de las bandas de Machito y Tito Puente. Y una nueva versión del clásico de Guillermo Rodríguez Fiffe "Bilongo", interpretada por Ismael Rivera (su última grabación con la orquesta, y supuestamente su anteúltima sesión antes de su muerte) y orquestada por Javier Vázquez, director musical de su banda Los Cachimbos. Luego de una pausa de tres años, la orquesta lanzó Lo Que Pide La Gente, cuyo mejor momento se encuentra aquí: "El Rey De La Puntualidad", orquestado por Luis García e interpretado por Héctor Lavoe. Compuesta por Pacheco, la canción se ríe afectuosamente de la falta de puntualidad del cantante. Dos años más tarde, Viva La Charanga aumentó el sonido de la banda con violines para crear la charanga del título. Lewis Kahn, veterano de Orchestra Harlow, la Fania All Stars y la orquesta de Tito Puente, fue contratado luego de la finalización del disco, para grabar un nuevo solo de violín en el tema "Vacila Con Tu Trago", interpretado por Pete "El Conde" Rodríguez (1933-2000) y orquestado por Isidro Infante. Para marcar el vigésimo aniversario de la banda, Live In Africa, grabado en Zaire en 1974, y Live In Japan 1976 fueron lanzados en 1986. Los 30 años de la Fania Records fueron conmemorados en 1994 con una gira de tres ciudades (San Juan, Miami y Nueva York) a cargo de una nueva versión de las Estrellas. La grabación del concierto de junio de 1994 en el estadio Bithorn de San Juan, Puerto Rico, fue lanzada como "Live" (1995), co-producida por Larry Harlow. De este disco proviene nuestra última selección, "Quítate La Máscara", despampanante versión por parte de Adalberto Santiago de su éxito con la banda de Ray Barretto proveniente del disco Power de 1970. El último disco de la Fania All Stars, Bravo, fue lanzado por Jerry Masucci Music / Sony en 1997, el año en que falleció Masucci. Escrito por John Child, colaborador de Descarga.com DISCO 1 1/ Me Gusta El Son 8:12 (de Live At The Red Garter, Vol. 1, 1968; cantante: Monguito; solo de piano: Eddie Palmieri; solo de trombón: Barry Rogers) 2/ Descarga Fania 9:12 (de Live at the Cheetah, Vol. 1, 1971; solos: Bobby Valentín, bajo; Larry Harlow, piano; Johnny Pacheco, flauta; Orestes Vilató, timbales; Ray Barretto, conga; y sección de vientos; voz: Adalberto Santiago; arreglo: Ray Barretto y Louie Cruz) 3/ Anacaona 7:16 (de Live at the Cheetah, Vol. 1, 1971 cantante: Cheo Feliciano; solo de piano: Larry Harlow; solo de trombón: Reinaldo Jorge; arreglista: Bobby Valentín) 4/ Quítate Tú 5.15 (versión de 45 rpm de Live at the Cheetah, Vol.1, 1971; soneos: Adalberto Santiago, Santos Colón, Cheo Feliciano y Pete “El Conde” Rodríguez; solo de cuatro: Yomo Toro; solo de trompeta: Roberto Rodríguez; arreglo: Johnny Pacheco y Bobby Valentín) 5/ El Ratón 7:54 (inédito de Puerto Rico '73; cantante: Cheo Feliciano; solo de cuatro: Yomo Toro; arreglista: Bobby Valentín) 6/ Los Muchachos de Belén 4:41 (de Tribute to Tito Rodríguez, 1976; cantante: Rubén Blades; solo de piano: Larry Harlow; arreglista: Louie Ramírez) 7/ Mi Debilidad 5:38 (de Live At Yankee Stadium Vol. 2, 1975; cantante: Ismael Quintana; solo de piano: Larry Harlow; arreglista: Bobby Valentín) 8/ Mi Gente 6.26 (de Live At Yankee Stadium Vol. 1, 1975; cantante: Héctor Lavoe; solo de trombón: Willie Colón; arreglistas: Johnny Pacheco y Bobby Valentín) 9/Hermandad Fania 7:21 (de Live At Yankee Stadium Vol. 2, 1975; cantante: Bobby Cruz; solo de piano: Ricardo Ray; timbales/solo de flauta de émbolo: Nicky Marrero; arreglistas: Ricardo Ray y Bobby Cruz) 10/ Bemba Colorá 11:50 (de Live At Yankee Stadium Vol. 2, 1975; cantante: Celia Cruz; arreglista: Bobby Valentín) ------------- DISCO 2 1/ Vente Conmigo 5:28 (de California Jam, 1980; arreglo: Fania All Stars) 2/ Cúcala 6:53 (de Live, 1978; cantantes: Celia Cruz e Ismael Rivera) 3/ Juan Pachanga 6:33 (mezcla inédita tomada del concierto Havana Jam grabado el 3 de marzo de 1979 en La Habana, Cuba; cantante: Rubén Blades; solo de trompeta: Juancito Torres) 4/ Encántigo 7:57 (de Commitment, 1980; cantantes: Celia Cruz y Pete “El Conde” Rodríguez; solo de cuatro: Yomo Toro; arreglista: Luis García) 5/ Cuando Despiertes 5.49 (de Commitment, 1980; cantante: Celia Cruz; solo de trompeta: Luis "Perico" Ortiz; arreglista: Louie Ramírez) 6/ Dime Qué Te Pasa 4:52 (de Latin Connection, 1981; cantante/compositor: Adalberto Santiago; bongó: Roberto Roena; arreglista: José Madera) 7/ Bilongo 5:44 (de Latin Connection, 1981; cantante: Ismael Rivera; con Roberto Roena, bongó y Luis "Perico" Ortiz, trompeta; arreglista: Javier Vázquez) 8/ El Rey De La Puntualidad 6:42 (de Lo Que Pide La Gente, 1984; cantante: Héctor Lavoe; arreglista: Luis García) 9/ Vacila Con Tu Trago 5:51 (de Viva La Charanga, 1986; cantante: Pete "El Conde" Rodríguez; solo de violín: Lewis Kahn; arreglista: Isidro Infante) 10/ Quítate La Máscara 10:46 (de Live In Puerto Rico, 1994; cantante: Adalberto Santiago; solo de congas y canto: Ray Barretto; solo de trompeta: Juancito Torres) ----------------