19 November 2007
RAY BARRETTO - HARD HANDS
Ray Barretto for Fania from 1968.
Killer stuff all around! This album's a monster -- one of Ray's greatest, with the same sort of Latin Soul groove heard famously on his classic Acid LP. The record has Ray cutting across many genres -- blending Latin, soul, jazz, and a slight bit of funk -- all into a set of grooves that never stops pleasing, and which will make you start digging through the Latin racks like mad, just to find another LP this great! Titles include "Hard Hands", "Abidjan", "Got to Have You", "New York Soul", and the fantastic track "Love Beads", which has a cool rolling piano line that sounds like a great De La Soul sample. It's a great track, and makes the entire album worth the price!
A 1968 album with Barretto in midst of his most productive period. He had made inroads into pop and jazz markets and was a dominant figure on the Latin jazz and salsa circuit. The album not only provided the great conga player and percussionist with a nickname, it yielded hit single "Abidjan" and also brought personnel changes. Joseph Roman replaced Rene Lopez on trumpet (he'd been drafted), and Tony Fuentes joined the group on bongos.
Boogaloo, funk and soul are the main components of this Latin jam session, the sequel to ACID, released in 1968. Barretto had come up as a conguero, working for Tito Puente and others but went solo after he had a hit with "El Watusi." Perhaps because of the strong R&B component in his music, the vocals are in English, which obviously would give it a broader appeal in New York's radio airwaves of the time, particularly among the African-American community. The title cut refers to the thundering power of Ray's conga-playing, and is followed by "Abidjan," a tribute to the Ivorian capital. Bobby Valentin lays down a pattern on the bass and the great Orestes Vilato (still ripping it up today with John Santos' Machete Ensemble) shows why every timbales player in the world studied him. The tune starts as a mozambique, segues into a mambo during Vilato's solo and them ends as a bembé, a West African rhythm. Vilato also gets to showboat during "Son con cuero," where the vocalist exclaims, "Vilato has outdone himself! He's knocked it out to China!" The move is from son montuno to up-tempo guaracha during "Mi ritmo te llama." The vocals are by Adalberto Santiago and corista Jimmy Sabater yells "Salsa!" which, the excellent new liner notes by Bobby Sanabria suggest, is the first time the word was used in this context. Also present, Louis Crúz, a superb pianist who flits between jazz and soul riffs, and contributed arrangements to the session. (review by Muzikifan)
Ripped @320 from the remastered cd reissue.