October 17, 2012

Johnny Pacheco – Artist Mini Bio

elWatusi @ 10:46 pm

In partnership with Jerry Masucci (1934-1997), an Italian-American lawyer who had handled his divorce, Dominican-born multi-instrumentalist Johnny Pacheco formed Fania Records in New York in 1964. The company dominated the Latin record scene for two decades by bringing along promising young artists rather that poaching acts from other labels: Larry Harlow, Bobby Valentín, Joe Bataan and many others became stars on Fania, with Johnny as the recording director on early releases. He launched the label with the album Cañonazo (its catalogue number [S] LP 325 was derived from Pacheco’s date of birth: 3/25) fronting a band called Nuevo Tumbao (New Rhythm) with a Cuban conjunto format of trumpets, rhythm section and voices and a spirited sound akin to the Cuban giants La Sonora Matancera, Arsenio Rodríguez and Félix Chappottín. Tellingly, the title track was a cover of the 1954 hit by the great Cuban musical institution La Sonora Matancera, whose sound he was accused of copying. Though there is substance to this, his "new" matancerized sound, executed with aplomb and verve, proved to be a successful formula for both his future recordings and productions for other stars in the Fania roster. Lead vocalist, Pete "El Conde" Rodríguez (1933-2000), who previously recorded with Pacheco’s flute and violins charanga band on the Alegre label, made a further six albums with Nuevo Tumbao between 1964 and 1973 before going solo in 1974. Johnny brought in the smoky voice of Havana-born Héctor Casanova (1944-2007) for 1975’s El Maestro, on which the group was reborn as Tumbao Añejo (Aged Rhythm). Héctor, whose voice has a similar timbre to Pete’s, was criticised for imitating his predecessor. Casanova recorded a further two albums with Johnny before going solo at the beginning of the 1980s. After releasing a series of albums on which he teamed up with veteran singers like Angel Luis Silva "Melón", Daniel Santos, Celio González and Rolando La Serie, Johnny reunited with El Conde to make four more albums for Fania between 1983 and 1989, including the Grammy-nominated Salsobita (1987). Casanova guested on one track of Johnny’s final Fania solo outing, Sima! (1993), and in 2004 he participated in Johnny’s comeback album Entre Amigos on Bronco. – John Child

See also:
- A Visit With Maestro Johnny Pacheco
- Johnny Pacheco’s music

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