December 28, 2010
Louie Ramírez (1938-1993), who led his own band, composed, arranged and played timbales, vibraphone and keyboards, was probably the most sought after and prolific arranger and producer during New York salsa’s ’70s boom years – rightly described as "El Genio de la Salsa" (The Genius of Salsa) and the Quincy Jones of salsa. He made his pro debut in 1956 on vibes with Joe Loco’s quintet (Louie was the cousin of Loco’s wife), remaining until ‘59; he also played with the Vicentico Valdés band during the mid-’50s. Louie’s early credits included Pacheco y su Charanga’s 1960 smash hit "El Güiro De Macorina", which he co-wrote and arranged, Sabú Martínez’ Latin jazz classic Jazz Espagnole (Alegre, 1960), on which he played timbales and wrote some of the arrangements, and the early ’60s La Playa Sextet hit "Pachanga Con La Playa" from their album La Playa Sextet Vol. 11 on the Mardi Gras label. His band leading debut Introducing Louie Ramírez (Remo, 1964) was followed by Good News in 1965 on the new Fania label and Latin Au Go Go (Atco, 1965). He led a group called Conjunto Chango and played vibes on Vibes Galore (Alegre, circa 1966). In The Heart Of Spanish Harlem (Mercury, circa 1967) was meant to cash in on the boogaloo and Latin soul fad, as was 1968’s Ali Baba ‘68 back on Fania. From late ‘68 to ‘70 he teamed up with ex-Ray Barretto singer Pete Bonet to co-led the resident 12-piece band at NYC’s famed Corso club. The duo made the LPs The Odds Are On (Swinger, circa 1969) and Pete & Louie / The Beautiful People (Fania, 1971).
In the early ’70s Louie Ramírez y Tito Rodríguez: En Algo Nuevo featured the great singer and bandleader on his own TR label (Ramírez became the firm’s vice-president). Louie’s notable 1974 album Típico on United Artists featured conguero Papo Pepin, whose long-term association with Ramírez began in the mid-’60s. He became a staff producer with Fania in 1975 and president of the company’s Alegre stablemate from the mid-’70s to the early ’80s. His LPs on Cotique (also part of the Fania family) were seminal experiments: the innocuous crossover oriented A Different Shade Of Black (1976); Louie Ramírez y sus Amigos (1978) included the major hit "Paula C" composed and sung by Rubén Blades; Salsa Progresiva (1979) featured Jimmy Sabater singing lead vocals on Barry White’s song "Sha-La Means I Love You" (with Angela Bofill singing backup); and Salsero (1980) included pianist, arranger and producer Isidro Infante.
Louie produced the first LP in the successful Noche Caliente series in 1982 with vocalist Ray de la Paz (an ex-member of Conjunto Melao, Guararé and Ray Barretto’s band). The album is regarded as the genesis of the salsa romántica trend. 1983’s Super Cañonalos con Louie Ramírez on Gigi (reissued as Mi Fruto on Caimán in ‘98) was típico salsa with three trumpets, alto, baritone sax and flute, including Infante on piano and the impressive voice of de la Paz. Ramírez and de la Paz next co-led a band with a horn section of four trumpets and featuring Infante and Pepin for a trio of successful slickly produced salsa albums on the new Caimán label (founded in ‘83 by Sergio Bofill and Humberto Corredor): Con Caché! (1984), which charted high in Billboard’s Latin list, the award-winning Alegres y Romanticos (1985) and Sabor con Clase! (1986). Ramírez’s 1987 Caimán finale A Tribute To Cal Tjader with his Latin Jazz Ensemble featured soloists Paquito D’Rivera, Mario Rivera and José Fajardo.
Ray de la Paz unwisely split in 1987, and fronted session men on the lacklustre Estoy Como Nunca on BC Records (reissued on Caimán in ‘98) with Infante. Ramírez continued with Louie Ramírez y Super Banda (Faisán, 1987), with lead vocalists Tony Vega and Jorge Maldonado; then a couple of undistinguished LPs: El Genio (L & T Records, 1989) and Louie Ramírez y sus Amigos (1990) on the new Cache label founded by Alex Masucci (brother of Fania boss Jerry Masucci). He returned to Latin jazz for the award-winning The King Of Latin Vibes (Sugar Records, 1991). He reunited with de la Paz on Otra Noche Caliente (RMM, 1992) and managed to recreate most of their earlier magic. After two heart attacks and a cerebral haemorrhage, Ramírez ignored medical advise to quit performing in 1992; while driving along Junction Boulevard in Queens, NYC, Louie pulled over and suffered a third fatal heart attack in June 1993. The project he and de la Paz had been working on was released under de la Paz’s name as Preparate Bailador (RMM) in late 1993.
- John Child
Louie Ramirez discography
December 23, 2010
Click here for DJ Gury Gury’s Playlist
The playlist I have chosen for elWatusi is a representation of the bands, artists and people that have supported my radio program and my Dj career. From Bio Ritmo to Orquesta Dee Jay, these bands have always given support to the Viejoteca radio program. The tracks here are a cross section of the tracks you would hear on my radio program or at one of my many club nights. I have the upmost respect for every one of the artists on this list as well as all of the people who have worked hard to bring you this music. This playlist is dedicated to those who have supported me in the past and the future. Enjoy, and please send me any feedback you may have. I look forward to bringing you many more playlists in the future.
Yours sincerely, Gury Gury
Gury (Gary Verrinder) discovered Salsa music while living and studying Spanish in la Habana Cuba. “I lived on the same street as the legendary el Tosco of NG la Banda and would wake up every afternoon listening to the sounds of their rehearsal” says Gury Gury. This inspired him to become involved in the world of Latin music. He discovered his passion as a DJ, in his basement, in the early’80s mixing Duran Duran songs on a 2 track. In 1986, after forming the legendary Toronto Punk Rock label X Records, Gary began an internship on CHRY 105.5 FM out of York University. After numerous shows and promotions, Gary X, as he was known then, became the music director in 1989. He remained in that position until 1994 when he also gave up his show and other club DJ-ing duties to travel the world.
Upon returning to Canada in 2001 the Salsa bug had bitten Gury. On May 1st 200 3he started a radio program on CFRU 93.3 FM called Viejoteca. Viejoteca is Canada’s number one Salsa radio program and is listened to around the globe via the internet by more than 100,000 people a week. Since then Gury Gury has been asked to be the resident DJ at the E-Bar in Guelph Ontario Canada. The Latin Fiesta at the E-Bar has been recognized as the premier Salsa night in the area by Echo Magazine and at 9 years is the longest running Salsa night in the area. He is the founder of the Salsa Ethica movement, as well as the popular local festival the Northern Salsa Experience. In 2009 he also founded Salsa Clandestina. In September of 2006 Gury Gury launched his 24 hour online radiostation at Live365.com network. Gury Gury has also been responsible for bringing some great live music to the Guelph region; acts such as Bio Ritmo, BryanV argas, Cache, Salsatika, Son Ache, Cassava and many more. He was the music director for the Guelph Multicultural Festival in 2004-2006 and has been a performer for the Guelph JazzF estival since 2004.
DJ Gury Gury has also DJ’ed at various other events in Colombia (Nuestra Herencia-Cali, Tin Tin Deo-Cali), England (Salsology-Manchester, 1st Guest DJ for Café Mambo Project-Nottingham, Wharf-Birmingham at the longest running Salsa night in the UK), Spain (Opened for band La Sucursal S.A. at Fiesta La Alegria del Barrio-Barcelona), Toronto (S & M Expo, Toronto Salsa Festival, Opened for Alfredo De La Fe, Opened for Bio Ritmo Canadian Tour among many other events) Montreal, Washington DC (Mambo Scene.com Opening Party) Hamilton, Rochester, New York (Special Guest DJ for Orquesta Dee Jay for their 30 year Anniversary Party), Chicago (Chicago Salsa Festival 2008-2010), Cleveland (Baila Duro), Kitchener and London. Gury Gury has become an internationally recognized Dj and continues to travel and play special events around the globe.
We welcome DJ Gury Gury to the elWatusi family of the World’s Best DJs!
December 18, 2010
An elWatusi exclusive.
Bio Ritmo are back with a superb experimental Latin soul-funk groove that is destined to be a dance club top pick.
Quickly approaching their 20 year anniversary, Bio Ritmo unveil their latest offering and debut release for Electric Cowbell. Bio Ritmo is a one of a kind phenomenon in today’s hard-bitten indie salsa world – a band with both a healthy adventurous streak and a solid underpinning of authentic sabor criollo. In a rather hostile environment that makes getting gigs difficult and playing this type of music more a labor of love and endeavor of pure artistic expression than a simply commercial endeavor, Bio Ritmo continue to delight and amaze with both their talent and longevity, consistently pushing the envelope, tearing down walls between categories and defying pigeonholes. Dina’s Mambo is a slab of tropical funk that showcases the band’s playful instrumental side but also reveals a muscular cinematic swagger. Consequently there is a pleasingly Persian flavor to the proceedings (in keeping with the band’s previous leanings towards minor-key tunings), as well as tasty hints of progressive Afro-Cuban funk of the 70s by the likes of Los Van Van and Chucho Valdes’ Irakere. La Muralla , is a seemingly straight up salsa dance track with a dark underpinning that makes for goose-pimple dancing at the same time. One also hears echoes of favorite rare groove Caribbean Latin funk acts like Joe Bataan’s Salsoul era recordings, Cortijo’s Time Machine project, Eddie Palmieri’s Harlem River Drive, Mandrill, and Seguida to mention a few, so these tracks should be a favorite with DJs and dancers world-wide.
Recorded by Lance Kohler at Minimum Wage – Richmond, VA
Mixed by Aaron Levinson and Brian Ritrovato at Range Records – Philadelphia, PA
Mastered by Total Sonic Media, Brooklyn, NYC
On Dina’s Mambo, La Muralla (Electric Cowbell)
Rei Alvarez: voz, guiro
Marlysse Simmons: farfisa
Giustino Riccio: timbale, coro
Gabo Tomasini: conga
Giustino Riccio: bongo
Eddie Prendergast: bass
Tobias Whitaker: trombone
Bob Miller: trumpet, coro
J.C. Kuhl: tenor sax
David Hood: bari sax
Molly Berg: slide guitar
For three decades, New York-based Conjunto Clásico have more or less managed to keep the Arsenio Rodríguez conjunto format of trumpets (three in their case), conga, bongo, maracas, güiro (scraper), bass, piano, tres guitar and voices, sounding modern and fresh. The original nucleus of the band was executive producer, coro singer and percussionist Raymond Castro and composer, producer, coro singer and percussionist Ramón Rodríguez. Between 1979 and 1992 Clásico released 12 albums on their own Lo Mejor Records label. After the band’s 1986 LP, lead singer and founder member Tito Nieves left to go solo. Ex-Grupo Fascinación lead vocalist Johnny Rivera replaced Nieves on Clásico’s 1988 and 1989 albums before departing to launch a solo career. Beginning in 1988, Ramón Rodríguez started releasing his own projects. 1990 saw the marriage of Clásico with the fine voice of Rafael de Jesús on Ray Castro presenta Conjunto Clásico con Rafael de Jesús – Sensaciones, one of their best albums. José Febles replaced Rodríguez as producer and wrote all the charts. However, Ramón performed on the album and penned five tracks. Febles contributed arrangements to all Clásico’s previous releases and was musical director on their 1979 and 1980 LPs. de Jesús remained for one more album, 1992’s Tus Dulces Labios, before departing in 1993. Febles again produced and wrote over half the arrangements. Ramón’s only contribution was coro vocals and percussion. Ex-Johnny Ray vocalist Carlos Torres filled-in as lead singer, then de Jesús briefly rejoined in ‘94-5 before having a runaway success with his solo album A Mi Puerto Rico (Copa, 1995). Castro and Rodríguez produced albums by other artists on their Lo Mejor label between 1981 and 1984, including José Bello, Tito Allen, Daniel Santos, Cesar Nicolas y su Orquesta "Show" and Johnny "Dandy" Rodríguez. Castro continued to record with Clásico without Rodríguez for Ralph Mercado’s RMM label (1995) and RC Entertainment (1997). In 2003 Nieves reunited with Castro and Rodríguez to celebrate Clásico’s 25th anniversary with Tito Nieves Canta Con El Conjunto Clásico: 25 Aniversario Recuerdos (Wea Caribe). Rodríguez returned to Clásico three years later to participate in their productions for Universal / Machete and Codiscos, both with lead singer Héctor Luis. In 2010, Castro and veteran bandleader and percussionist Julio Castro co-produced and performed on La Gitana: Julio Castro And Ray Castro Presenta Nayibe (Budda Bear West Side Records) by the young Colombian female singer Nayibe La Gitana.
- John Child
Conjunto Clasico discography
December 16, 2010
Barbés Records is a new label associated with the Brooklyn club of the same name. Its focus, which mirrors that of the club, is on original and idiosyncratic approach to tradition. Be it Balkan, Latin, Americana, Klezmer, Jazz or pop music, its mission really is to put out music that seems to have artistic relevance to the people producing it.
Barbés features terrific material like The Roots of Chicha, Juaneco y Su Combo, Very Be Careful and Chcha Libre.
Click for the Barbés catalog of titles.
Welcome to iASO Records – Music for the soul! iASO specializes in Latin & World music. All our music is recorded the original way: LIVE, which makes it fresh and soulful. The LIVE recording permits band members to communicate and build off of each other. We also use no time keeping device (click-track), which means that in our recordings, the tempo of a song can change slightly in different parts of a song – depending on mood – thus permitting a nuanse of musical expression not practically obtainable in track by track recording.
iASO represents some amazing Dominican music: Puerto Plata, Joan Soriano, Bachata Roja and more.
Click for the iASO catalog of titles.
Cumbancha is a new record label founded by Jacob Edgar, an Ethnomusicologist and music producer who for the past eight years has been the head of music research and product development at famed independent record label Putumayo World Music. It has been Edgar’s job to travel the world in search of exceptional artists and songs for Putumayo’s critically acclaimed and commercially successful compilations of music from all over the globe. Over the years, Edgar kept coming across artists he felt deserved wider recognition and assistance in bringing their music to the world stage, and he decided to form Cumbancha to address that need. “I believe exposure to music from different parts of the world can help open a doorway to other cultures,” insists Edgar. “Listening to music is an excellent way to make a connection with people who are very different from yourself, and it can create a common ground that overcomes some of the barriers that separate people of different walks of life.”
Cumbancha represents Ska Cubano, Novalima, Sarazino, Luisa Maita and more…
Click for the Cumbancha catalog of titles.
December 14, 2010
December 10, 2010
Puerto Rican-born Tito Rodríguez (1923-1973) was "equally talented as an uptempo improvising sonero and a romantic singer." "At its peak, the Rodríguez band’s blend of Cuban-oriented numbers and tight, solo-filled instrumentals equalled any of his rivals," wrote John Storm Roberts in The Latin Tinge, 1979. At 16 he played maracas and sang second voice with Cuarteto Mayari before relocating to New York’s East Harlem to live with his older brother Johnny (1912-1997, a popular vocalist and composer), who had moved there in 1935. Between circa 1940 and 1942, Tito worked with Cuarteto Caney, Enric Madriguera and Xavier Cugat (replacing Miguelito Valdés as a singer and percussionist); then a spell in the US Army was followed by work with Noro Morales and Eddie LaBarron. In 1946 Cuban pianist and composer José Curbelo recruited Rodríguez and Tito Puente (on timbales) to his band, which became an "incubator" for the future New York mambo sound. While still with Curbelo, Tito sessioned with Chano Pozo, Arsenio Rodríguez and Machito’s Orchestra for Gabriel Oller’s Coda label in Feburary 1947. Fired by Curbelo due to a misunderstanding in 1947, Tito briefly led a quintet, then formed his own trumpet-led Mambo Devils in mid-1948 (one of NYC’s first conjuntos) and made eight numbers for Oller’s SMC label. He signed with Tico Records in 1949, but Oller protested against the continued use of the name Mambo Devils, so Tito briefly named his group Los Lobos del Mambo (Mambo Wolves) before saxes and trombones were added to create a big band (simply called "his Orchestra’), which he led until 1965. Tracks he recorded between 1949 and 1951 from Vol’s. One, Two, Four, Five and Six of his Mambos series of 10 inch LPs on Tico were compiled on the Tumbao CDs Mambo Mona and Mambo Gee Gee in 1992. In pursuit of the crossover market, he switched to RCA from 1953 to ‘56, recording with big band, conjunto and charanga line-ups (three volumes of The Best Of Tito Rodríguez & His Orchestra were issued in RCA’s Tropical Series in ‘92-4). On his return to Tico from 1956 to ‘58, he issued Wa-Pa-Cha (1956), Latin Jewels (circa 1957) and Señor Tito Rodríguez (1958). He also recorded with La Playa Sextet for the Mardi Gras label; tracks are compiled on Tito Dice…Separala Tambien! (Alegre, circa 1971).
In 1960 Tito signed to United Artists on the basis that he would be the only Latin bandleader to record for the company. His first album on the label, Live At The Palladium (including Eddie Palmieri on piano), was made at the famed NYC ballroom, where he was regular resident between 1949 and 1964 (Returns To The Palladium – Live! ‘61, his third UA album, was even better). In 1962 Tito had three massive hits in a row: "Vuela La Paloma" (from West Side Beat), "Cuando, Cuando" (from Back Home In Puerto Rico), and "Cara De Payaso" (from Tito Rodríguez’ Hits). Tito and his band recorded Back Home In Puerto Rico during a two-week stay on the island in June 1962. His return was marked by official government receptions and heavy media coverage. In 1963 he issued the Latin jazz set Live At Birdland, featuring Zoot Sims, Al Cohn, Bobby Brookmeyer and Clark Terry. The same year Tito had a monster hit of over one and a half million sales with the smoochy string-laden bolero "Inolvidable" (penned by Cuban bandleader and pianist Julio Gutiérrez, 1919-1990), contained on From Tito Rodríguez With Love. He followed this with a series of soft romantic bolero albums, interspersed with uptempo collections like Tito Tito Tito (1964), on which sideman Israel "Cachao" López’s championing of Latin jam sessions was spotlighted on the opening track "Descarga Cachao". Bad deals and financial friction with musicians caused him to disband; he returned to Puerto Rico in 1966 where he starred in his own TV series, featuring guests like Sarah Vaughan, Sammy Davis Jr, Shirley Bassey and Tony Bennett. In the late ’60s he relocated to Miami. His albums of that period included the swinging Estoy Como Nunca (UA Latino, 1968) with big band line-up of four trumpets, four trombones, five reeds and five-piece rhythm section including future Libre leader Manny Oquendo. In 1971 he founded his own TR Records label. His second album for the imprint, Palladium Memories, was a best seller. He teamed up with Louie Ramírez for the 1972 follow-up Algo Nuevo. Tito’s 25th Anniversary Performance (1973), made in a Peruvian nightclub, was released a month before his death, sparking conjecture that he’d meant it as a farewell. His last appearance was with the Machito band at Madison Square Garden on 2 February 1973, 26 days before he died of leukaemia.
- John Child
Tito Rodriguez discography
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Co-founded in 1962 by the Cuban flautist, musical director, arranger, composer and producer Eddy Zervigón (pictured here) and Cuban singer Roberto Torres, Orquesta Broadway has proved to be one of New York’s longest surviving charangas. Eddy boarded in the same East Harlem building as Torres; rehearsals took place in Eddy’s small room; following disagreements over a name, they finally settled for "Orquesta Broadway" (suggested by a promoter because most members resided near the avenue). Notable early members included Eddy’s twin brother Rudy (violin) and his younger brother Kelvin (who initially played güiro, then switched to piano), brothers Ira Herscher (piano, arranger and composer; with the band ‘62-’70, plus several stints with them during the ’70s) and David Herscher (bass, arranger and composer; with the band ‘62-9, returned briefly in the mid-’70s), and Abraham Norman (violinist from ‘63 to the late ’70s). Broadway made their debut with Dengue (1964) on the Gema label, which contained the hit cha cha "Como Camina Maria", arranged by Ira. Their series of albums on the Musicor label between 1965 and 1968 helped consolidate their popularity as one of New York’s top ten bands. Their 1972 LP Como Me Gusta, the first of two albums on All-Art, contained the hit "Pa’ Africa", inspired by a forthcoming trip to Africa. They visited the Ivory Coast and Paris in 1973 and Senegal in 1974.
Broadway signed to Harvey Averne’s Coco Records and released four albums on the label between 1975 and 1981. Their second Coco release, Pasaporte (1976), produced by revered trombonist Barry Rogers, enhanced their popularity. By 1977 they were the city’s busiest band, playing 15 dances a week; five dances on Saturday. 1978’s New York City Salsa, produced by Ira, added the trumpet of Cuban, Roberto Rodríguez (died: 1988) to the line-up. Between 1980 and 1981, Eddy, Rudy, Kelvin and other band members appeared on a number of albums produced by Torres for his SAR and allied Guajiro and Neon labels, including: Roberto Torres Presenta: Ritmo de Estrellas (1980); Charanga Colonial (1981); and SAR All Stars Recorded Live in Club Ochentas (two volumes, 1981). In 1982 they released Orquesta Broadway Loves New York on their own B’way Records label and were the winning band at the Festival de Orquestas in Cali, Colombia. Although their recorded output fell-off in the remainder of the ’80s and ’90s (only releasing Ahora Es Cuando Eh! in ‘87 on Mambo, back to an un-augmented format), they made radio broadcasts and gigged consistently. They made their album comeback in 2003 with 40th Anniversary (Flauta, 2003). Mike Collazo, timbalero with Broadway for 15 years, passed away in 2010.
- John Child
Orquesta Broadway discography