Salsa Gold

In the 1970s the world of salsa was diverse and full of many bands struggling to gain recognition and have their artistic voices be heard.  This collection is about digging deeper, about discovering buried treasure. It’s about giving little-known groups like Orquesta Dee Jay a chance to shine again, or uncovering that obscure track by a well-known artist like Machito. It is truly Salsa gold.

Cortijo Y Su Combo Original Con Ismael Rivera still have a huge impact on Latin music today. The combo’s innovative integration of Cuban and Puerto Rican elements set the standard for years to come. Wayne Gorbea’s tunes from the 1970s have a mournful, bluesy edge that comes from the old style of Cuban son and rural Puerto Rican jibaro laments of yesteryear. There is even the insertion of Puerto Rican bomba and plena beats in the middle for added variety. At the same time Conjunto Clásico Con Tito Nieves is updated with a hard urban edge and progressive vocal harmonies, with a flavour that marries the triple trumpet and tres-led conjunto sound pioneered by the blind Afro-Cuban genius Arsenio Rodriguez and the more traditional jibaro and criollo folk music of their members’ Puerto Rican roots.

Often referred to as a ‘mad genius’, half-Puerto Rican, half-Cuban multi-instrumentalist/composer/producer Louie Ramirez was a major force in Latin music for a good thirty years. He worked with an amazing array of vocalists, arranging many an outstanding song, and had serious jazz chops as well, being especially adept at piano, percussion and vibes. Ramirez also recorded for a variety of labels and in many styles, and was a part of the Fania All Stars.

The legendary producer/trumpeter Joe Cain says that the 1975 album Reincarnation by Orquesta Narvaez was one of his all-time favourite productions. This rare collector’s gem is chock full of hard rhythms, raging trombones and excellent vocals. In 1971 New York Pianist Héctor Rivera did a one-off album, The Return, for West Side Latino, and though it is often overlooked by collectors today, it is a snapping little record with many fine examples of guaguancó,son montuno and guaracha, done with that barrio-bred hard-edged grit that characterized so many recordings from the era. Timbalero Manny Oquendo has been playing percussion more than 50 impressive years various big names in Latin New York bands, 25 of which have found him at the helm of the innovative nine-piece ensemble Manny Oquendo & Libre. In addition to creating innovative ‘kitchen-sink’ arrangements for many bands on the Discos Fuentes roster. Fruko was also a talent scout for Fuentes, and on this particular album two of his brightest acquisitions for the label, vocalist Joe Arroyo and multi-instrumentalist Michi Sarmiento, are in full effect. This is the first time on CD for ‘Fruko A Lo Compadre’ by Fruko Y Sus Tesos, who also feature on the cover of the release.

Also featured in this compilation are Ray Martinez, Zaperoko, Orquesta Revolución ’70, Orquesta Dee Jay, Machito Y Su Orquesta Con Lalo Rodriguez,  Orquesta La Conspiración.