Cheo Feliciano came to prominence as the lead singer of the Joe Cuba Sextet from 1957 to 1967, recording albums with the group for the Mardi Gras, Seeco and Tico labels. However, he fell prey to drug addiction and went into personal decline. His only recorded output during this period were sessions with the Cesta All-Stars, Eddie Palmieri and Monguito Santamaría. In 1969 he admitted himself to the Hogar Crea drug rehabilitation centre in Puerto Rico for about three years treatment. While in rehab, Cheo signed with Fania’s subsidiary Vaya label, and much to his surprise, his 1971 solo debut Cheo was a runaway success. Witness to the contract was Catalino "Tite" Curet Alonso (1926-2003), who co-produced and wrote most of the project, including the hits "Anacaona" (the single sold over 140,000 copies), "Mi Triste Problema" (the single was no. 1 in New York and a top 5 hit in Puerto Rico) and "Por Que Afinquen". "Por Que Afinquen" allowed Cheo to reintroduce himself to his eagerly awaiting public and criticize rivals who sought to grab the spotlight during his absence, depicting them as insincere and unable to sing in clave or dance! Cheo made a further nine solo albums for Vaya between 1972 and 1982. It’s documented that he had differences with Fania over remuneration in the mid-’70s and moved to Puerto Rico to distance himself from the company. After his Vaya stint, he made five albums for his own Coche Records label (1984 to 1988), then hooked-up with Ralph Mercado’s RMM label in 1990. – John Child Cheo Feliciano discography
After leaving his native Panama in 1966, singer and composer Azuquita recorded with Roberto Roena, Kako, the Salsa All-Stars and Cortijo between 1966 and 1969 before recording two solo albums on small labels in the early 1970s. He joined the Fania stable in 1975 and in addition to releasing two solo albums on Vaya, recorded with Kako on Alegre, Louie Ramírez on Cotique and made two albums with Típica 73 on Inca. Believing he had completed his commitment to Fania, Azuquita relocated to Paris in 1979. However, the label contacted him in 1980 to inform him that he owed them an album. He said he would only comply if he could record with the big band of Tito Puente, who, being aware of Azuquita’s popularity in Paris, jumped at the chance. The upshot was that he provided lead vocals and penned half of Puente’s 1981 album Ce’ Magnifique for Tico Records. The album made little commercial impact at the time due to lack of promotion from Tico. Azuquita continued to be active on the salsa recording scene into the 2000s, making at least 11 albums for various labels. – John Child Azuquita discography
Singer Luisa María Hernández (1920-2006) had just turned 60 when the phenomenal success of the SAR label briefly revived her career in the 1980s. Born in El Cobre, in the province of Cuba formerly known as Oriente, she became "La India de Oriente" at the beginning of the 1940s. She worked in radio and TV and performed with names like Trío La Rosa, Barbarito Díez, Celia Cruz and Julio Gutiérrez before relocating to the USA in 1960. Recordings she made with Trío La Rosa in Havana between 1949 and 1954 are compiled on Yo Fui La Callejera: Con TríoLa Rosa (Tumbao, 2001). She made two albums for the Gema label, Guajiras y Décimas and another with Julio Gutiérrez y sus Guajiros. Between 1980 and 1982 Luisa María recorded three wonderful albums for the SAR sister label Guajiro, ¡Desde El Cobre Con Amor!, La India de Oriente and Buenos Dias Africa, and sang lead vocals on one track in SAR All Stars Interpretan A Rafael Hernández ‘81 on SAR. Her final outing was La Reina de la Guajira ‘85 on the SAR descendant Caimán. The anthology La India De Oriente collects four tracks each from ¡Desde El Cobre Con Amor! and Buenos Dias Africa. Most of the SAR house band were on the sessions, including trumpeters Alfredo "Chocolate" Armenteros and Leonel Sánchez, bassist Marino Solano, bongosero Juan Méndez, tres player Charlie Rodríguez and conguero Alberto Valdés. Alfredo Valdés Jr. played piano and cast all the arrangements in the characteristic rootsy SAR mould of extended tracks with plentiful soloing opportunities. – John Child La India de Oriente discography
I’m lovin’ this video of Pete Nater and crew shot at LP founder Martin Cohen’s home in NJ. Nater, who plays with the Spanish Harlem Orchestra and a gazillion other top level bands, is joined by the always enjoyable Frankie Vazquez.
DJ El Chino, our Colombian connection, is back with a powerhouse playlist that mixes the best of both modern and classic salsa! La Negramenta, Johnny Colon, Roberto Roena, Ray Camacho, Machito, Paul Lopez and Susie Hanson are just a few of the names you will find on this 30 track playlist gem…
DJ EL Chino is not only a DJ, he is also a music producer, promoter and cultural manager. Today he is an all-around talent and a respected figure in the Salsa & Latin Jazz scene worldwide, thanks to his tireless efforts with his website, Solar Latin Club, an important site for Salsa DJs around the world, where he exposes not only the latest releases but also the rarest treasures of Salsa, Son, Mambo and Guaguanco records.
I don’t usually devote blog posts to single album releases, but Alma, Tierra y Raices: Para la História, the new release by veteran salsa singer Bobby Cruz, is pretty darn special. The man is 73 and can still kick it like, well, Bobby Cruz. Here’s my take on it…
Now here’s an unexpected gift of salsa gold: a new release by the legendary veteran singer. For those of you who might not know, the team of Richie Ray and Bobby Cruz was one of salsa’s greatest forces from the late ’60s, ’70s and ’80s and even through, well, today if you count their recent, highly successful, reunion concerts. Individually they have produced some pretty good material, some of which has been Christian themed (Cruz has been a minister for many years). However, with Alma, Tierra y Raices, we now have a new secular release, devoted exclusively to the religion of Salsa, that somehow recaptures the vitality and pure salsa heat of their best heyday work like Sonido Bestial. Now that’s something.
Producer and musician Victor “Papo” Ortiz has produced a modern project with firm roots in classic salsa dura of the Fania years. The 73 year old Bobby Cruz still has it. Listen to the audio clips folks, I kid you not — this guy is fabulous. Check out Para Colombia and you will hear the unmistakable, signature voice of Bobby Cruz in full capacity. You’ll be happy to know that Richie Ray shows up for the session: listen to his chops on Modongo de Guimo. Another notable guest is the legendary electric violinist Alfredo de la Fe. Listen to his composition Cuba y Puerto Rico …a salsa-charanga gem. Just listen to the jewel-in-the-crown El Chivo de la Fiesta. A track that, played at the right volume (high) will be sure to fill any dance floor. Spot on.
Ok, folks, don’t let this one slip by. A DJ Alert, and Highly Recommended. Alma, Tierra y Raices: Para la História
The hoo-ha caused by the deserved international success of the trademarked Buena Vista Social Club over the last decade has eclipsed the significance of a number of major US-based Cuban artists. One example is trumpeter Alfredo "Chocolate" Armenteros, a prominent name during the era of Cuban music Buena Vista nostalgia harks back to, and who actually performed with legends such as Septeto Habanero, Arsenio Rodríguez and Beny Moré, among others. He took up residence in New York in 1960, and after working as a sideman with numerous luminaries, including Machito, Larry Harlow, Eddie and Charlie Palmieri, he became a bandleader in 1974. His debut album, Chocolate Aqui (Carib Musicana, 1974), was followed by three productions for Mericana / Salsoul between 1974 and 1976: Juntos, in collaboration with Cuban vocalist Roberto Torres, Chocolate Caliente and Chocolate En El Rincon. In 1979 he became a house musician with SAR and the related Guajiro and Toboga labels, recording with Torres, Papaíto, Henry Fiol, and many others including the SAR All Stars. In addition, he fronted a conjunto with a trumpet / trombone frontline for three beautiful típico Cuban LPs, Prefiero El Son (1980), Y Sigo Con Mi Son (1980) and Chocolate Dice (1982), all produced by Torres and predominantly arranged by Alfredo Valdés Jr. The three albums are compiled on Lo Mejor De Chocolate Vols. 1 & 2, but without personnel details. All the material conformed with the SAR policy of stretched-out numbers with plenty of spaces for improvisation. He then went to the new Caimán label for the Latin jazz sets Chocolate en Sexteto (1983), Rompiendo Hielo! (1984) and Chocolate y Amigos (1995), and the big band project Chocolate & His Cuban Soul (1997). Though far from Buena Vista Social Club proportions, Chocolate received recognition in the DVD The Cuban Swing: Tribute To The Legend Chocolate Armenteros, Live In Puerto Rico (Mundo Libre, 2006), the first release he had headlined since 1997. discography
- John Child
Enormously popular at music festivals and DJ roundups around the world DJ Dwight “Chocolate” Escobar is a connoisseur of Afro Cuban and Latin rhythms, mixing Cuban timba, Latin rap, hispanic hip-hop & the most exquisite salsa. Dwight has played to large crowds at major Latin events all over Australia and the world. Throughout “Chocolate’s” career in Australia he has supported many famous acts including the Grammy nominated Los Amigos Invisibles, Oscar D’Leon, Los Van Van, El Canario as well as Tina Arena, just to name a few.
Dwight “Chocolate” Escobar is currently running DCEentertainment, a company he established more than a decade ago. DCE Entertainment produces events like Cruise Bar “Salsa On The Rocks,” “The Basement Afro Cuban Sessions,“ and for the first time ever in Brisbane, at QPAC, DCE will produce and artistically direct Juan Formell y Los Van Van… plus many huge events in Australia and the Globe.
The tracks I chose to place in this playlist are for the dancer, lovers of salsa, from the amateur to the connoisseur. I have the right recipe for the mambo big band fans to the salsa dancer from the barrios and the most exquisite timba for the “reparteros de la Habana.” My opening track is “Mambo” from Charanga La Crisis, by my patriot from Venezuela, Geraldo Rosales, followed by Steve Guasch’s “Aqui te traigo sabrosura” just to spell out, nice and clear, what I’m bringing to the elWatusi.com playlist. The third track “La Rumba en casa de Maria,” by Sabadonga, is probably the most outstanding salsa hard core band of this season. “La Ley” by La Negramenta a track that i must include, by law! To make the balance perfect I went back to a classic by Roberto Roena “El pueblo pide que toque.” Then I chose a block of tracks mainly for the big band lovers which today is called ‘mambo,’ followed by another block for the lovers of the classic straight salsa, including big names like Oscar d’ Leon,Tommy Olivencia, and Eddie Palmieri. I’ve finished off with a Timba Cubana block, beginning with one of the protagonists that started the whole movement: Jose Luis Cortez, “El Tosco,” followed by two bands that thrive in international timba: Cesar Pedroso “Pupy” and Angel Bonne! Please enjoy your dose of Chocolate…
GOD BLESS Click for my elWatusi Playlist!
Brooklyn’s own Andy Harlow grew up in a musical environment. His father, Buddy Harlow, was an accomplished string bassist and Orchestra leader. By the time he was in High School, Andy was already playing woodwinds professionally in the New York City area. Andy attended New York University where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education and a Master’s degree in EthnoMusicology. He also received another type of education by paying his dues as a sideman in the orchestras of Tito Puente, Tito Rodriguez, Ismael Rivera, Xavier Cougat, Machito and Joe Cuba while attending New York University. This eventually landed him a recording contract with Fania/Vaya Records, and a membership in The Fania All Stars super Salsa band. Andy’s first LP, “Sopresa La Flauta” contained the monster hit “La Loteria.” Three more LP’s for Fania produced more hits such as “La Musica Brava”, “Tin Tin Deo”, “El Campesino”and “No Qe Va a Llorar.” 1999 saw the debut of Andy’s “La Musica Brava” internet radio show, which can now be heard on Andy’s own website. The show attracts a loyal audience of listeners worldwide. We welcome Andy Harlow to the elWatusi family!
July 13, 2010 – Pablo Lebron, for years the voice of Los Hermanos Lebron (The Lebron Brothers) salsa band, passed away today in Brooklyn, NY.
The Lebron Brothers consisted of Jose, Angel, Carlos, Frankie, and Pablo — this last one ailed two decades ago by a heart disease that kept him away from performing.
The news of this terrible loss for the world of salsa music is of particular interest to the salsa community of Los Angeles as the four performing Lebron Brothers are scheduled to participate in El Festival Colombiano to be held in Pico Rivera just five days from today, on Sunday. Andy Rosillo, one of the festival’s organizers, stated that the foursome will be traveling to Los Angeles from Colombia this weekend to perform at the festival despite the terrible news. “There is an outstanding amount of interest, questions, and sadness for a great life that has been lost,” said Rosillo, and added that a Mass has been scheduled at 1 p.m. on Sunday at the festival’s location to commemorate the life of Pablo, who is tonight mourned all over the world. Lebron Brothers Discography
Salsa y Control, a Lebron Brother’s classic…
Related article: Artist Mini Bio – The Lebron Brothers
These funky mavericks from Brooklyn knocked-out 16 albums on Cotique between 1967 and 1982, often mixing Spanish lyrics Latin tunes and English language R&B / soul-oriented numbers. Fania Records took over Cotique in the early ’70s and drafted in star bandleader Larry Harlow to produce Asunto De Familia in 1973 and Johnny Pacheco to produce another three. Reportedly, Fania boss Jerry Masucci even tried to persuade the Lebrón Brothers to replace Pablo with a younger, thinner white lead singer. But proud of their Afro-Boricua heritage, they resisted and were consequently excluded from some major opportunities. Angel and José Lebrón eventually took over the reins of production on the band’s 14th Cotique release in 1980, and Angel took the producer credit on the remaining two albums for the imprint. (Frankie Lebrón produced a one-off return to Cotique in 1998.) They first visited Colombia in 1979, where they continued to grow in status and recorded three albums there, including their live 35th anniversary album in 2002. The Lebróns last outing for Cotique, 1982’s Criollo,spawned the immortal "Sin Negro No Hay Guaguancó" (Without The Blackman, There Would Be No Guaguancó), which has become an anthem in Cali, Colombia. After Criollo, they recorded for the Caimán, El Abuelo, Yengo, Astro Son, Boso and Exclusivo labels between 1986 and 2009. discography
- John Child