Very Cool Pictures
June 21, 2012
This was timbales player Ray Cruz’s 1997 debut album, and it’s an absolute gem. Extended grooves and wonderful vocals by Luisito Ayala and Carlos El Grande mark this a must have. Coro includes Herman Olivera and Luis (Madamo) Diaz. Also with New York legends Louis Bauzó and Lewis Kahn.
A big DJ Alert and Very Highly Recommended. – elW
Available in high quality mp3/320 or audiophile FLAC formats.
more info/audio clips
• Ray Cruz: Leader and timbales
• Louie Bauzo: Bongos and bomba drum
• Tomaso Santiago: Conga and bomba drum
• Bernie Minoso: Bass
• Sergio Rivera: Piano on cuts 1,2,5,6,7, and 8
• Igor Atalita: Piano on cuts 3,4,9, and 10
• David Chamberlain: Trombone and flute
• Lewis Kahn: Trombone and violin
• Bob Suttmann: Trombone and sackbut
• Luisito Ayala: Lead vocals
• Carlos El Grande: Lead vocals
• Herman Olivera: Coro
• Luis (Madamo) Diaz: Coro
• Hector Martignon: Piano on Bolero Medley
Those who long for the days of the “real stuff” will be happy to acquire this album.
Once again I’m taken back to the day when albums had a greater variety of music as this one does. It contains Salsa, Cha-Cha, Bolero, an instrumental Mambo, Latin Jazz and a tinge of Charanga.
In today’s overindulgent atmosphere of romantic themes it is refreshing to see the title Sopa de Bacalao (cod fish soup). It is also heartening to hear musicians taking solos. Remember when that was standard practice?
Timbalero, Ray Cruz is the band’s leader. He was a member of the Mongo Santmaria Orchestra and has performed with Ricardo Rey and many bands in both Latin and Jazz disciplines. Cruz favors updated arrangements from the 50s and 60’s. Their repertoire includes music by Tito Rodriguez, Tito Puente, Machito, and other bands from the Palladium era.
Cruz Control’s two trombonists also play flute and violin which projects the Charanga sound that dancing audiences love. The band’s idea is to perform big band tunes with the swing and drive of a conjunto.
Cruz Control was established in 1990. They began playing regularly in Brooklyn at the Time Out Lounge and then began performing weekly for audiences interested in learning to dance Mambo and Cha-cha at a weekly workshop. They began branching out to clubs such as Club Broadway, S.O.B.s, Bayamo and others.I went to Bayamo on two occasions and was surprised at the following this group has. The place was filled and a friend informed me most of the folks there were regulars; many of them having followed the band for years. Hearing them and dancing to their style of music was pure pleasure.
The group is made up of seasoned musicians. Collectively Cruz Control has over 100 years of experience playing Latin music. Many of the musicians have played with the legends.
Lead singer Luisito Ayala has worked with Rafael Cortijo, Joe Cuba, Larry Harlow, Lebron Brothers, Eddie Palmieri, Roberto Roena and Bobby Valentin.
Luis Bauzo on bongos has performed with Mario Bauza’, Machito, Johnny Pacheco, Tito Puente, Dizzy Gillespie and others.
Lewis Kahn who doubles on trombone and violin currently makes up part of Tito Puente’s orchestra and played with Larry Harlow, Ruben Blades, Fania All Stars and many others.
Bernie Minoso on bass has played with many Jazz greats like Stanley Turrentine, Hilton Ruiz, Chico O’Farrell, and Dizzy Gillespie.
Sergio Rivera on piano is also the group’s arranger. His experience includes time with Rafael Cortijo, Kako y su Estrellas, and Orestes Vilato’.
David Chamberlain, a music teacher who plays trombone and flute has also worked with Rafael Cortijo.
Tomaso Santiago is a young master of the conga.
If your musical taste runs more toward the authentic, check out Cruz Control. And next time you are in New York, look for them.
- Eileen Torres, SalsaCentro.com
May 17, 2012
elWatusi is happy to include the catalog of CESTA RECORDS, the label formed by the esteemed band-leader JOE QUIJANO in the 1960s. Joe was born on September 27, 1935, at Puerta de Tierra, Puerto Rico, his family relocating to New York City in 1941. Over the years he has contributed greatly to the development of Latin music in New York City.
His complete catalog is available in high quality mp3/320 or audiophile FLAC formats.
Click to view the Cesta catalog with audio clips
Musicians are a breed of their own. In most cases they come and go; some reach the top charts and become unforgettable and others go unnoticed and fall through the cracks. We know who the unforgettable ones are because, we as human beings identify our special moments through their music and lyrics.
Joe Quijano is one of the unforgettable orchestra leaders, composer and cinger of our time, and, oh, how he can woo the ladies, with his romantic melodies and sexy voice. He started his career as a boy, in 1950 in the back streets of the Bronx, NY, with such known artists as Eddie Palmieri (pianist) Orlando Marin (timbale player), Chiqui Perez (conga player) and Larry Acevedo, (trumpet player). He formed his first band known as the Banana Kelly’s Mambo named after Kelly Street where most of these artists grew up. Later, he changed the group’s name toEl Conjunto Cachana, and the band is still very active today.
Throughout his career, he has had many accomplishments. He has recorded 14 albums and over 300 songs. In 2003 he recorded his latest album, in english, entitled Salsa- Natra In Clave, a tribute to Frank Sinatra. He was an innovator of La Pachanga, a Cuban-Nuyorican rhythm, and the Cha Cha Cha, and is most famous for his interpretation of La Pachanga Se Baila Asi, which inspired other great artiest such as Tito Rodriguez, Frank Grillo (better known as Machito) and Tito Puente to incorporate La Pachanga in their big band orchestras in the late 1960s.
Many of us will remember his very famous song, A Cataño, which became popular for the verse Aguanta La Lancha ue voy pa Cataño. Joe was a founder of the Cesta All Stars with Al Santiago and Charlie Palmieri.
Joe Quijano is an all-around artist. He not only composed, sang, and conducted his orchestra; he was also an accomplished pianist, and played flute as well as the timbales, congas, and bongos.
In 1992, Joe Quijano was still going strong until fate turned things around. He had a motor-cycle accident, here in Puerto Rico, which left him in a wheel-chair for several years. He has had over 12 surgeries, but his love for music, and his unbelievable stamina, has brought him right back to where he was, and to us. He is still performing and going strong, his most recent performances being in Cali, Columbia.
I have just skimmed the surface of this great artist. To do him justice, I would have to write a book, which, by the way, is being done today. His music has inspired many great musicians throughout the years, and his legacy will live on for as long as we have, and enjoy music. I am proud to call Joe Quijano my friend. He is an unbelievable human being, and a great artist.
May 11, 2012
elWatusi is thrilled to include the catalogs of COMBO RECORDS and RICO RECORDS. Formed by Mr. Ralph Cartagena in the mid ’60s, Combo Records was pivitol in helping the Puerto Rican mega-band El Gran Combo reach world-wide audiences. In association with the great Tony Pabón, Rico Records is considered one of the most historically important salsa catalogs. Today the combined catalogs make up of hundreds of gems that include the artists Mario Ortiz, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Hermanos Colón, Cano Estremera and much more. Other catalogs, like Spanoramic and Neliz, have been included as well, and these, too, will be added to elWatusi as they are made available. Below, Derek Cartagena, son of label proprietor Ralph Cartagena, talks a bit about the label’s early years as well as what’s in store…
José Miguel Class LP Release, 1971. Ralph is on his right.
In 1962 Ralph Cartagena opened his first record store in the Bronx, NY called R&R Records. The store prospered, and he opened another. He eventually opened 4 stores (3 R&R Records and 1 Hi-Tone) throughout the borough and did very well. In early 1969, Ralph opened the largest Latin one-stop called Rico Records Distributor. At that time, a friend named Nelson was in the process of purchasing the Neliz label. Being uncertain, Nelson sought Ralph’s advice. Ralph assured Nelson that it was a good deal because 8-track tapes were being introduced to the public and people would now re-purchase the recordings they love. Nelson said he would go through with the deal only if Ralph was a partner. Ralph accepted, and they acquired Neliz Records and started producing José Miguel Class “El Gallito De Manati”. El Gallo was one of the most successful artists of the time. So successful that Ralph began to manage him. His outlook was, “If you are promoting an artist and can make money from selling a lot of records, it only makes sense to manage him and make money on that end as well. Why should another manager gain from your hard work?” A system that he invented and still practices today. They eventually went on to produce Felipe Rodriguez, Ramon Torres, Jose Manuel Calderon and Mariachi Jalisco to name a few.
Later that year, a family member named Tony Pabon approached Ralph looking for a job. Tony had just left Pete Rodriguez where he was the primary song writer and trumpet player. Ralph hired Tony as his Music Director.
Without hesitation, Ralph created the Rico Records label where he recorded his first salsa act, Tony Pabon Y La Protesta (RCD-701, 1970) They quickly began to discover and produce quality bands which gained Ralph recognition and a name in the business. Not an easy feat, considering that Fania Records was in its heyday and controlled the airwaves. Ralph’s success, along with his clean cut image and straight-shooting, caught the attention of Jerry Masucci, president and founder of Fania. Jerry approached Ralph with a proposition. He told Ralph that he had just purchased Tico & Alegre Records. He asked Ralph if he would be willing to go partners with him on the two labels. Ralph would get to run the labels on one condition, he would have to throw Rico Records into the mix and share the profits. Ralph turned down the offer and continued on as an independent label with much success.
Jerry Masucci with groovy pants with Ralph C., 1972
Not long after, Ralph got the opportunity to sign, record and manage El Gran Combo De Puerto Rico. That was when the label Combo Records was created. Next, Johnny Ventura came knocking on Combo Records door looking for the same opportunity, which Ralph gladly gave him. Ralph was also in negotiations with his lifelong idol, Tito Rodriguez. Ralph never could have dreamed to one day have El Gran Combo, Johnny Ventura and Tito Rodriguez recording for him on the same label. Unfortunately, Tito passed away before Ralph could get anything started.
Ralph on the left, with José Miguel Class, Nelson, Felipe “La Voz” Rodriguez (kneeling), 1972
Fast forward to 2012, and Combo Records is still in production. The big players of the past are long gone. The industry has changed dramatically along with technology. Combo Records is one of last, 100% independent, Latin labels still in existence today. Combo is currently in the studio and will be releasing new projects from Edgard Nevarez Y La Tropica and Las Estrellas Cubana. Combo is very excited about this record and the all-star line-up it features. The album has just finished its recording in Cuba and is about to be mixed. Everyone who is anyone in Cuba is on this record. Stay tuned.
Derek Cartagena, 2012
January 24, 2012
December 9, 2011
Who is Ray Santiago?
Glad you asked. Ray Santiago is a veteran New York-based pianist-composer-arranger whose rootsy, essential, salsa is of the most authentic Latin music to come out of this city, period. He was a founding member of the legendary group Saoco and has collaborated with Henry Fiol. His salsa has effectively captured the flavor of lower East Side NYC Afro-Latino soul. Our friend Chico Alvarez has said “His style, hard-driving yet tasty, is sure to satisfy any fan of straight-ahead Cuban dance music.” Damn straight. This is the real deal. Meet Ray Santiago. – elW
Ray Santiago albums now on elWatusi.com…
Afro Cuba a La New York City (2004)
In the tradition of, say, Grupo Folklorico y Experimental Nuevayorquino, Ray Santiago, a fixture in the New York scene, likes to blend grooves from Africa, Cuba and Puerto Rico with the soul of the city. There is no fancy post-production engineering here, just pure, gritty New York style salsa. Jose Mangual Jr. on bongos and with Mr. Santiago and Julian Llanos on vocals. Special guest Henry Fiol, coro on “Asohano.”
Santiago does not offer new releases that often – his last, “Pa Que Nadie Me Olvide,” was almost a decade ago, so pay attention, folks. “Afro Cuba A La New York City” is as straight forward and honest a project as they come. The grooves it generates are full of life and beg for us to partake in the pleasure they offer. I, for one, am a grateful participant. New York used to be full of small late-night clubs that housed local bands that sounded kind of like this. Not any more. And because of that, this album is small gem. Highly recommended. – elW
Latin Up (2008)
Take the tasty, hard-driving piano playing and earthy direction of Ray Santiago, add the seasoned voice of Julian Llanos [who sang with the likes of Arsenio Rodríguez, Cortijo, and Héctor Rivera] and you get a gritty, very New York Latin dance and jam band that could go all night. Ray is not afraid to mix it up, offering unexpected tempos and montuno variations. Listen to his near turbulent treatment of the standard “Besame Mucho” as it morphs into a jazzy descarga. In fact, most of Santiago’s arrangements bear, at the very least, the suggestion of going descarga on you. Here are musicians who are trained to think on their toes, and, if the stars are aligned just right, the swing goes where it takes them. Listen to it happen on “Amparame,” and on “Oya Diosa” too. There’s almost a Senegalese feel to “Lucha Por lo Tuyo,” the opening track, what with its extended montuno, gritty sax and luxurious electric guitar (Frank Morin) riffs. There was a time when, on any given Friday night, you might stumble upon small clubs featuring bands like Conjunto Libre, The Fort Apache Band, Cruz Control, or Wayne Gorbea. Ray Santiago’s band fit right into that scenario. He exudes the best of what was more common back in the day, mixing up the colors of Puerto Rico, Cuba, Africa and the diaspora with nuances of jazz and improvisation. This is true, rootsy, down-home New York Latin club music. With Kenneth Burney (congas), Nelson Burgos (bongo, percussion), Wataru Ochida (Saxophone), Yagil Barras (bass), Steve Gluzband (trumpet) and others. Highly Recommended. – elW
March 22, 2011
Is that a young Elvis? Guess again! That little tyke behind the big guitar is non other than Ray Barretto, one of our heroes. Here Ray is seen at 4 years old in front of his Brooklyn home with his mom, Cristina. - elW
January 30, 2011
A life in salsa. Ira Goldwasser, aka, Dr. Salsa, has been an ardent salsa missionary for decades, and we are very happy to shine some well deserved light on one of our finest soldiers of mambo. Dr. Salsa and his wife and partner, Harriet Broekman, longtime devotees of Latin music, were even broadcasters of Afro-Cuban music when they had hosted the shows Mambo!, and Dr. Salsa’s Jazz Latino on Netherlands Nationwide FM radio, De Concertzender Nederland. Keep dancing, Ira. We love ya.
Ira Goldwasser, aka Doctor Salsa, at age 13 with his sister Benay, who is 6, at the Nevele Country Club in Ellenville, N.Y. The back of the photo is notated: It's the summer of '52 and we're doing a mambo 'exhibition' during the 'Champagne Hour.' The band is none other that that of maestro Noro Morales!!
The following article, originally appeared in the Dutch arts and entertainment magazine Vpro Gids
November 2010, has been translated here to English.
by Armand Serpendi
On VPRO TV this weekend special focus on Latin American music. In Vrije GeIuiden (Free Sounds) Ira Goldwasser and Harriett Broekman, alias Dr. and Mrs. Salsa, will be dancing the MAMBO.
lt’s a cosy household in the Goldwasser home in North Bergen, New Jersey, directly across the Hudson River from Manhattan. The whole family dancing to the Jump and Jive of Louis Jordan, the rhumba-mambo~conga of Xavier Cugat, and the roof completely Ievitates when an acquaintance of the family shows up with an authentic Mambo, Abaniquito, Tito Puente‘s first hit kicking off the Mambo craze in New York City. It’s Latin all throughout the USA. Europe has been cut-off as a musical-cultural source in the aftermath of the Second World War, and North American ears are turned to South America …Brazil, the Caribbean and Cuba. lt’s the dawn of the Mambo Craze, everyone doin’ and recording the Mambo… Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, Perry Como and hundreds of African American groups. A Hit-Machine cranked-up by it‘s infectious syncopated rhythm, created by contrabassist Israel “Cachao” Lopez and tresero Arsenio Rodriguez in Cuba and popularized by Cuban pianist and orchestra leader Perez Prado, King of the Mambo. It is in New York City that the mambo was elevated to a higher level in the I950’s by the orchestras of “The Big Three”: Machito, Tito Puente and Tito Rodriguez.
Ira Goldwasser: “Prado had taken off the sharp edges so that everyone was capable of dancing to the mambo. For American feel/feet the accent was placed on the first beats of the measure; dancing on the two, the off-beat, from which the mambo derives it’s special driving character, was for most, harder. On two was for the insiders in New York. They crowded together downtown, Times Square, on the comer of 53rd. and Broadway, in the PaIIadium Ballroom (1946-1966), Home of the Mambo. Puerto Ricans, Cubans, African Americans, Jews, and Italians danced their socks off to the incendiary live sounds and transposed the ballroom into the first non-segregated hot spot in America. Black and white went at it together, ‘cause this music was something else! You went out to the Palladium well dressed… form-fitting suits and dresses, delicate shoes and your best fragrance. The famous were there: Marlon Brando, Marlene Dietrich, Sammy Davis Jr. And the jazz-cats: Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, and Charlie Parker — who were blowing bebop just around the corner in Bop City and Birdland.”
Pain and ecstasy.
Goldwasser: “Bebop musicians loved to play along in the mambo big bands. That made the mambo jazzy, gave it that New York attitude. On the dance floor one could speak of a friendly competition. From the start it was clear who had the best moves, the most innovative improvisations. I wasn’t a top dancer, but in my own way incorporated the Dunham technique, modern dance with Afro-Cuban and Afro-Haitian influences. I was only 12 years old and wasn’t allowed to be there at all. But I made sure I looked older and was skillfully maneuvered upstairs into the ballroom in the shade of the illustrious show dancers Augie and Margo (Rodriguez) and Cuban Pete (Pedro Aguilar) and Millie (Donay). It was their ballet-referenced elegance that set them apart from the rest.
ln 1950 my mother had enrolled me in the Katherine Dunham School of Dance in the former Schubert Theatre rehearsal studios. There one learned the essence of Afro dance: to blend physically with the beat of the drum. The playing was live, just drummers. Every week different drummers would summon up the rhythms of Cuba and Haiti for an hour and a quarter without stopping, and we kept dancing. Caribbean slaves from the Central African Kongo-nation called up to their gods. And let me tell you, do they have gods: the ancient Greeks are scant in comparison, There is always one who can make you better.”
Goldwasser is one to know. The largest part of his life he has worked as a psychiatrist. Medical studies brought him to Amsterdam in 1960, where he met his partner Harriett Broekman: “When lra and I danced together for the first time we did the cha cha chá and l could pull it off well. I think that even if l had stood on my head with wooden shoes on, he would have liked me too. We‘ve been dancing together now for half a century and then you learn quite a bit.”
While in New York City Salsa became the new marketing term for Afro Cuban dance music. In our country there was not much going on. There was Max Woiski Sr. (BB met R) and Max Woiski Jr, who performed in his club La Tropicana with a Surinam-Dutch band,” Broekman remembers. “But you were not permitted to dance. People were driven to jump up but they were immediately shoved back into their chairs. ln 1976, we heard of the band Salsa de Amsterdam. We helped them along. But the promotion did not go smoothly, as we constantly had to explain what Salsa was. And then there was Iboya, the place that transported the style of the Palladium days to Amsterdam. Here, the Latin bands played. It was remarkable how high the level of performance could be here, as long as there was a steady place to perform. The scene blossomed in front of our eyes: Antillians, Surinamese and Dutch people together making the style on the dance floor enormously animated.”
The live music on stages such as lboya and De Kroeg, making Amsterdam the Salsa center of Europe for a while, has now given up it‘s place to djs and dance schools. Salsa and Latin dance have been standardized and the dancers often think more about their practiced stylized steps and combinations then the feeling and improvising to the tumbao (basic beat). Dance tighter and don’t take up half the dance floor,” Broekrnan remarks. “it‘s about the foot work and for that, one doesn’t need more than one square meter.”
In New York City, as well, there are noticeably less spots to dance to live music, but they have not disappeared at all,” Dr. and Mrs. Salsa discover yearly. “ln small side streets in East Harlem there are happening clubs with so many musicians that there‘s little room left over to dance. First, there are 4 singers and behind them 5 trombonists, more musicians join in …thats the real Salsa stuff, then you’ve got mambo! Mambo is a happening, a magical moment, an audiotopia.
Link to VPRO source article
October 4, 2010
What we have here is a little gem of a picture featuring a very young Willie Colón (flute), Jimmy “The Clobber” Arqueta, producer Al Santiago (clarinet), Kako (sleeping), and Don Alfredo Santiago.
Bidding starts at $50,000. Ok that’s just a joke. No offers, please. Not for sale! - elW