Truco & Zaperoko: Truco & Zaperoko: Fusi

Javier AQ Ortiz By

Sign in to view read count
Truco & Zaperoko: Truco & Zaperoko: Fusi
Truco & Zaperoko
Fusión Caribeña
Ryko Latino

In Puerto Rico there is a rather illustrious ferryboat called La lancha de Cataño that traverses the bay between San Juan and the seaside town of Cataño. Joe Quijano wrote a celebrated song to it and that city has the dubious reputation of counting one of Puerto Rico's most gaudy politicians, "El Amolao, among its figures. Los Pleneros del Truco, fortunately, also come from there. Truco, for short, paid its dues in the Plena, "Fiesta patronales, (Patron Saint Feasts) dance and festival, Puerto Rican circuits.

Plena is a highly syncopated Puerto Rican popular musical genre that originated in poor urban centers during the early part of the 20th Century. The foregoing Plena band recorded a few solid albums on its own and rank among the best pleneros. Since they hail from a municipality adjacent to the BacardÃ- plant, their music feels rum induced. Once you add a shot of Zaperoko to this liquor, your feet start spinning.

When Hispanic musical vanguardists discuss their views, the aforementioned African term names a cherished aggregation that, at one time or the other, served as platform for figures such as Giovanni Hidalgo, John Benitez, Richie Flores, William Cepeda, Frankie Rodriguez, Tony "El Goldote Jiménez, Eladio Pérez, Antonio "Toñito Vázquez, Nelson González, and Charlie Santiago. Experimentation within the boundaries of known Cuban and Puerto Rican musical genres, lacking exclusion of other influences such as Brazilian, Jazz and Caribbean outlooks, allows "Zaperoko to newly slant its danceable work into other eddies. Together, Truco & Zaperoko are a musical counterpart to the attrition and centralization process, commonly known in corporate culture as downsizing. In this case, nevertheless, the music, the musicians, the audience, the culture, and the market are all winners. The depth, humor, and groove that trademark their performances enrich this recording.

In Fusión Caribeña, or Caribbean Fusion, these two institutions assembled their resources to interpret a core mixed repertoire of native compositions to the groups, as well as contributions from other sources. Edwin "Zaperoko Feliciano, Rey Morales, with collaborations from Héctor Valentin, and Ray Maysonet, were the source of inspiration for the original tunes. "Porque [sic.] adoré, a Tite Curet Alonso's tasty and sensual number popularized by Frankie Dante and Mark Dimond in their Beethoven's Fifth album, the legendary Cuban Son by Sergio Siaba "El cuarto de Tula, a traditional Plena entitled "A ti na' má, and a Frankie Rodriguez/Larry Harlow tune, round up the remainder of the compositional radiant.

The feeling of good times in this album is towering. Pulsating waves of solo singularities cascade throughout the swinging highlights of "Brilla el sol, "Porque [sic.] adoré and "El cuarto de Tula, and "Te gusta el dulce. In the latter, a section incorporating a free aesthetic over the clave enhances the double entendre of the lyrics.

The Fusión Caribeña, achieved by the blending of these two groups, arrives at a particular musical distinctiveness. Funky, hard-hitting lines of expression split up and combine in this record, replicating into admiration and grateful memories of high musical times had while opening one's mind to what is being said and played.

The following is a curious note on ideology, politics and social psychology in Hispanic music. In the excellent liner notes, we read:

En este tema, que escuchamos antes de que saliera la version incluida en la grabación Buena Vista Social Club... (In this tune we heard before the release of the version in the Buena Vista Social Club recording... )

The comment alludes to the Cuban composition "El cuarto de Tula. This composition is renown and this group's superb reinterpretation should not concern itself with any recent allocution by any other successful band. If the accomplishments of such an ensemble group warrant this type of comment as a means for publicity, the resulting perception of trivial dependency is inevitable. If such a comment was printed as a means for verification of originality, the resulting perception is sheer ignorance of the longstanding role of this tune in the tradition. Either way you look at it, it comes across dreadful. Its unstated source is the recent onslaught of anti Puerto Rican sentiment from some circles associated with the most recent upsurge of interest in Cuban music. This, nonetheless, is a poor way of addressing such ignorance.

When faced with such comments, Edwin "Zaperoko Feliciano sent the following responses through e-mails and are reproduced here, unaltered, with his permission and translated:

Es un placer saludarte, nos sentimos muy halagados por la reflección sobre nuestra grabación. Es muy profunda y llega a las raices afroantillanas que nos inspiran en lo que tratamos de hacer. Sobre tu observación con respecto a lo que dice sobre la descripción del tema El Cuarto de Tula, estoy de acuerdo contigo. Aqui ha habido una equivocación en el trabajo de traducción y de editar las palabras y el mensaje expresado por éste servidor originalmente. Aqui te envio lo que originalmente dije:

"Antes de que ganara un Grammy el disco de Buena Vista Social Club, escuché la versión de El Cuarto de Tula. El tema me encantó y decidi prepararle un arreglo donde pudiésemos incorporar otros elementos. Utilizando nuestra combinación de dos trombones, flauta y fluglehorn, trabajamos el tema dándole otro tratamiento, aunque conservando su base original."

Ese fue mi comunicado original.

Lo que yo estoy diciendo es que cuando escuché la versión de Buena Vista Social Club, me enamoré del tema y quise preparar una versión utilizando los elementos de nuestra agrupación, jamás en la vida, que yo lo grabé antes o algo por el estilo. Lo único que dije fue que lo escuché, le preparé el arreglo y lo grabé antes de que ganaran el Grammy, porque si llego a saber que la grabación de esos maestros iba a tener tanta difusión, tal vez hubiese seleccionado otro tema.

Espero que esta aclaración sirva para que no se nos malinterprete, obviamente, por un error que entiendo fue involuntario de parte de las personas que hicieron la traducción y la edición del escrito...


It is a pleasure to greet you and we feel honored by the reflection on our recording. It is very deep and reaches into the Afro-Antillean roots that inspire us in what we try to do. I agree with your observation regarding what is said about the description of the tune "El cuarto de Tula. There was a mistake in the translation and editing of the message I originally sent. Herein what I originally said:

"Before the Buena Vista Social Club recording won the Grammy, I heard the version of El cuarto de Tula. I really liked the tune and decided to arrange it in such a way that other elements could be incorporated. We reworked the tune using our combination of two trombones, flute and flugelhorn, while keeping its original base.

That was my original message.

What I am saying, rather than, God forbid, implying something like I recorded it first, is that when I heard the Buena Vista Social Club version, I fell in love with the tune and wanted to prepare a version using the elements of our group. All I said was that I heard it, prepared the arrangement and recorded it before they won the Grammy, because if I had known that the recording of those masters was going to be so disseminated, perhaps, I would have chosen another tune.

I hope this clarification will help so that we are not misinterpreted, obviously, for a mistake that I consider as involuntary from the persons that edited and translated the written piece ...

Later, he added the following:

...Nosotros estamos muy orgullosos de nuestra música puertorriqueña y amamos la música caribeña, por eso la interpretamos a nuestro estilo y personalidad. Por eso hicimos Porque Adoré, A ti na'má, Brilla el sol y El cuarto de Tula, todos con arreglos originales y diferentes que reflejaran nuestro estilo de ver y sentir esos temas que en sus interpretaciones previas tuvieron algo que capturaron mi atención...

...We are very proud of our Puerto Rican music and love Caribbean music, which is why we interpret it through our style and personality. That is why we did "Porque [sic.] adoré, "A ti na' má, "Brill el sol and "El cuarto de Tula, with original and different arrangements that reflected our way of seeing and feeling those tunes which, in their previous interpretations, had something that caught my attention...


1. Vámonos pa'l carnaval 2. Conchita 3.El cuarto de Tula 4. Te gusta el dulce 5. La noticia del dia 6. Porque adore 7. A ti na' má 8. Margarita 9. Brilla El Sol


Backup Vocals-Jose Luis "Chegüi Ramos. Backup Vocals and Lead on "El cuarto de Tula, and "Porque adore. Bass-Paquito Corselles and Guillermo Andújar in "La noticia del dia, "A ti na' má, and "Margarita. Bongos and Cuban Güiro-Edgar Reyes. Co- Leader and Plenera Punteador-Héctor "Truco Valentin. Co-Leader, Güiro, Claves and Percussion- Mickey Maysonet. Co-Leader, Trombone, Musical Direction and Backup Vocals-Edwin "Zaperoko Feliciano. Congas-Héctor "La Mata Meléndez. Flugelhorn and Trumpet-Jochy Rodriguez. Flute, Soprano and Alto Saxophones-Nicolás Santiago. Lead Vocal in "Vamonos pa'l carnaval, "Te gusta el dulce, and "A ti na' má -Herman Cárdenas. Lead Vocal in "Conchita, "La noticia del dia, and "Margarita -Ray Gabriel. Lead Vocal in "Brilla el sol - Luis "Chalky González. Maracas, Claves and Percussion-Sammy Vélez. Piano-José M. Lugo. Piano in "La noticia del dia and "Margarita -Manolo Navarro. Plenera Requinto, Cowbells and Conga in "Te gusta el dulce -Ray Maysonet. Plenera Punteador and Seguidor-Henry Valentin. Plenera Requinto and Punteador-Joe Maysonet. Timbales-Tito De Gracia. Tres-Artemio "Tito Garcia. Trombones-Julio Marrero and Antonio "Toñito Vázquez.

Track Listing

1. V


Back up Vocals-Jose Luis ?Cheg?? Ramos Back up Vocals and Lead on ?El cuarto de Tula,? and ?Porque ador? Bass-Paquito Corselles and Guillermo And?jar in ?La noticia del d?a,? ?A ti na? m?,? and ?Margarita? Bongos and Cuban G?iro-Edgar Reyes Co-Leader and Plenera Punteador-H?ctor ?Truco? Valent?n Co-Leader, G?iro, Claves and Percussion-Mickey Maysonet Co-Leader, Trombone, Musical Direction and Back up Vocals- Edwin ?Zaperoko? Feliciano Congas-H?ctor ?La Mata? Mel?ndez Flugelhorn and Trumpet-Jochy Rodr?guez Flute, Soprano and Alto Saxophones-Nicol?s Santiago Lead Vocal in ?Vamonos pa?l carnaval,? ?Te gusta el dulce,? and ?A ti na? m?-Herman C?rdenas Lead Vocal in ?Conchita,? ?La noticia del d?a,? and ?Margarita?-Ray Gabriel Lead Vocal in ?Brilla el sol?-Luis ?Chalky? Gonz?lez Maracas, Claves and Percussion- Sammy V?lez Piano-Jos? M. Lugo Piano in ?La noticia del d?a? and ?Margarita?-Manolo Navarro Plenera Requinto, Cowbells and Conga in ?Te gusta el dulce?-Ray Maysonet Plenera Punteador and Seguidor-Henry Valent?n Plenera Requinto and Punteador-Joe Maysonet Timbales-Tito De Gracia Tres-Artemio ?Tito? Garc?a Trombones-Julio Marrero and Antonio ?To?ito? V?zquez

Album information

Title: Truco & Zaperoko: Fusi | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Rykodisc

Post a comment about this album


Shop Amazon


All About Jazz needs your support

All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.