All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review


Ray Barretto: Jazz


Sign in to view read count
Although both of his parents were full-blooded Puerto Ricans, Ray Barretto was as American as they come. Born in Brooklyn, by the age of seven he had already resided in that borough, as well as Spanish Harlem and the Bronx. His biological lineage, combined with the place he was born and raised, gives new meaning to the concept of Latin jazz.

Fania honors his legacy with a compilation featuring ten of the strongest works he recorded for the label. Before his immensely successful solo career, Barretto worked his way into the popular jazz arena as the go-to percussionist for straight-ahead acts looking to combine hard bop with an exotic Latin tinge. He recorded on essential albums by jazz luminaries such as Lou Donaldson, Kenny Burrell and Red Garland.

After establishing himself as perhaps the greatest musician of his kind after Tito Puente, Barretto moved beyond the realm of the sideman and began to cultivate his own unique sound, a venture that culminated in 1961 with the recording of his mega-hit "El Watusi," a pop crossover that forever established his reputation. That record's success allowed him to branch out and record the more challenging work heard on this compilation, which chronicles his output for the label from 1965-82. Only two standards are included: a rousing tribute to his idol Chano Pozo with "Tin Tin Deo" and a funky reading of "Round About Midnight," before Barretto's formidable crew returns to what it does best—playing the scorching Latin rhythms that make this release a perfect complement to the balmy New York summer.

One highlight is "Cocinando," a lengthy Barretto original from Que Viva Musica (Salsa, 1982). Once it's stated, a sublime theme on the electric piano is never abandoned and the orchestra—anchored by Rene Lopez's work on the muted trumpet—holds onto its inspiration for more than ten minutes. Barretto and company reach a fever pitch on "Lucretia the Cat," from 1973's The Other Road (Fania). This tune, with its intense brass arrangements, begs to be sampled by a hip hop producer daring enough to concoct the next Latin-infused "club banger." Apart from being an essential summer Latin jazz mix, this compilation will open the door to the rest of Barretto's extensive catalogue, which is guaranteed to be an enlightening experience to music fans of all backgrounds.

Track Listing: Esp

Personnel: Ray Barretto: percussion.

Title: Jazz | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Fania


comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Peaks of Light CD/LP/Track Review
Peaks of Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 18, 2018
Read In Denmark I Was Born CD/LP/Track Review
In Denmark I Was Born
by Gareth Thompson
Published: March 18, 2018
Read In Copenhagen - Live at Jazzhus Slukefter 1983 CD/LP/Track Review
In Copenhagen - Live at Jazzhus Slukefter 1983
by Chris Mosey
Published: March 18, 2018
Read A Year Ago Today CD/LP/Track Review
A Year Ago Today
by Doug Collette
Published: March 18, 2018
Read Dreams of Belonging CD/LP/Track Review
Dreams of Belonging
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 18, 2018
Read Ravensburg CD/LP/Track Review
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: March 17, 2018
Read "Spavati, Mozda Sanjati" CD/LP/Track Review Spavati, Mozda Sanjati
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: November 19, 2017
Read "Stolen Moments" CD/LP/Track Review Stolen Moments
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 17, 2017
Read "The Late Trane" CD/LP/Track Review The Late Trane
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 27, 2017
Read "Obfusc/ation" CD/LP/Track Review Obfusc/ation
by Doug Collette
Published: April 18, 2017
Read "Currents 0" CD/LP/Track Review Currents 0
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 18, 2017
Read "Putting Off Death" CD/LP/Track Review Putting Off Death
by Glenn Astarita
Published: August 17, 2017