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Ray Barretto: Que Viva La Musica, Indestructible & Live at the Red Garter, Vol. 1 & 2

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Ray Barretto
Que Viva La Musica
Fania
2006


Ray Barretto
Indestructible
Fania
2006


Fania All-Stars
Live at the Red Garter, Vol. 1
Fania
2006


Fania All-Stars
Live at the Red Garter, Vol. 2
Fania
2006




Well-known in jazz circles for his early work as a ubiquitous sideman with the likes of Gene Ammons, Kenny Burrell, Lou Donaldson and Red Garland and for fronting his own world class Latin jazz ensemble during the final decades of his life, conguero Ray Barretto was equally important as one of the leading figures in the AfroCuban music commonly known as salsa. Affectionately known as "Hard Hands ("Manos Duras ), Barretto also had a sensitive finger on the pulse of the Puerto Rican community and his many albums for the Fania label during the '60s-70s were central to the soundtrack that accompanied the rising consciousness and pride of his people.

The two-CD set Que Viva La Musica chronicles Barretto's impressive artistry during that revolutionary era, with the first disc focusing primarily on his work melding Latin music with elements of AfroAmerican progressive pop and soul and the second documenting his popular advancements within the traditional Latin dance music genre. The first disc begins with several tracks of Barretto's pre-Fania work for Tico and UA Latino, starting with 1962's "El Watusi (the conguero's Billboard-charting Gold Record) and progressing through a history of his crossover hits, with lyrics in both Spanish and English. Reflecting the influences of James Brown, Sly Stone and Motown, the disc is a gumbo of dance party music that rocked the barrios of New York for more than a decade and although most of the songs on the set could be described as period pieces, many of them are ripe for reevaluation. The music on disc two, on the other hand, is timeless in every sense of the word; as relevant and innovative as when they were first recorded. Each of the program's 13 cuts ("El Hijo De Obatala , "Guarare and the title track, to name a few) is a classic featuring driving rhythms and socially powerful lyrics with soaring horn solos that should satisfy the most demanding of jazz listeners.

Barretto himself was an avid discophile who learned much observing jazz producers and engineers and his own productions were of the highest quality. Indestructible (1973) is one of his greatest albums, with pristine sound that allows one to hear the subtle intricacies of the Latin rhythm section. With wonderfully virile lead vocals by Tito Allen and coros from Hector Lavoe and Willie Colon (among others) the Spanish lyrics ring out with a power that even those who do not understand them can feel. The band—jazz soloists like Artie Webb and Manny Duran on flute and flugelhorn, pyrotechnical trumpeters Roberto Rodriguez and "Papy Roman and a smoking rhythm section with pianist Edy Martinez out front—is one of Barretto's strongest units. The music flows through an engaging sequence of songs whose varied forms and rhythms are well-explained in Bobby Sanabria's illuminating liner notes.

In addition to his work as a leader, Barretto was a founding member of the Fania All-Stars, the legendary Latin super group that traveled the world spreading the gospel of salsa in stadium concerts. Live at the Red Garter, Vol. 1 & 2 documents the band's 1968 inaugural performance at the intimate Greenwich Village club that would later become The Bottom Line. The band under the direction of flutist/percussionist Johnny Pacheco consisted of a revolving cast of characters that included pianist Larry Harlow and trombonist Willie Colon and also featured guest artists Tito Puente and Eddie Palmieri. Barretto is heard throughout and his composition "Son Cuero Y Boogaloo kicks off the second volume, but the jam-session-like atmosphere and the less-than-perfect sound stand in contrast to the conguero's own excellently produced dates.


Tracks and Personnel

Que Viva La Musica

Tracks: El Watusi; El Bantu; 007; Do You Dig It; Soul Drummers; Hard Hands; Together; Right On; Acid; Abidjan; Power; The Other Road; Lucretia the Cat; Cocinando; Arrepientete; Que Viva La Musica; La Pelota; Indestructible; El Hiho De Obatala; Guarare; Vale Mas Un Guaguanco; Ya Vez; Tu Propio Dolor; Fuerza Gigante; Rhythm Of Life; Manos Duras; Prestame Tu Mujer; Aguadilla.

Personnel:

Indestructible

Tracks: El Hijo De Obatala; El Diablo; Yo Tengo Un Amor; La Familia; La Orquesta; Llanto De Cocodrilo; Ay No; Indestructible.

Personnel:

Live at the Red Garter, Vol. 1

Tracks: Introduction Theme (Red Garter); Sabor Sabor; Guatacando; Country Girl- City Man; Me Gusta El Son; Exit Theme.

Personnel:

Live at the Red Garter, Vol. 2

Tracks: Son Cuero Y Boogaloo; Noche; Red Garter Strut; Kikapoo Joy Juice; If This World Were Mine; Richie's Bag.

Personnel:


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