Connect with us

News

Ray Barretto’s “Indestructible” Returns to Vinyl for 50th Anniversary

Published

on

Ray Barretto
Legendary Conguero and Bandleader, Ray Barretto

Los Angeles, CA (October 18, 2023) – Craft Latino announces a 50th-anniversary reissue of Indestructible, a defining title from legendary conguero and bandleader, Ray Barretto. The 1973 masterpiece, which cemented Barretto’s status as a salsa icon, features the classic title track, plus such highlights as “El Diablo” and “La Familia.” Set for release on December 15 and available for pre-order today, the long-out-of-print album has been newly remastered from its original tapes and pressed on 180-gram vinyl. A classic tip-on jacket, replicating the album’s original design, completes the package. Additionally, Indestructible will make its debut in 192/24 hi-res digital audio.

Ray Barretto: Indestructible
Ray Barretto: Indestructible Returns to Vinyl

In 1973, Ray Barretto (1929-2006) was at a crossroads in his career. For more than a decade, the Brooklyn-born, Puerto Rican musician had enjoyed his status as one of the foremost names in Latin jazz and Afro-Cuban rhythms. He had become thego-to conguero in New York City, playing alongside such jazz greats as Wes Montgomery, Cal Tjader, Kenny Burrell, and Dizzy Gillespie. As a bandleader, Barretto achieved stardom with his 1963 hit, “El Watusi,” while he became a foundational figure in the soulful boogaloo movement. Before long, he was at the forefront of the emerging salsa scene. Playing alongside him for much of this period was The Ray Barretto Orchestra, which featured vocalist Adalberto Santiago, timbalero Orestes Vilato, and bongosero Johnny Rodríguez, among others. But after five years and eight albums together (including 1968’s Acid1971’s The Message, and 1972’s Que Viva la Música), Barretto’s band left him to form Típica 73. The highly publicized split was a massive blow to the artist, creatively and personally. 

Despite the setback, Barretto pushed forward, enlisting a talented line-up of industry veterans, including trumpeters Roberto Rodriguez, and Joseph “Papy” Roman, drummer “Little” Ray Romero, bongosero Tony Fuentes, and pianist Edy Martinez. Initially, Barretto returned to his jazz roots, releasing the critically-acclaimed album, The Other RoadBut, as one of salsa’s biggest stars, the artist also recognized the importance of reclaiming his place in the popular scene. And so, he returned to the studio, working on a new collection of songs and further augmenting his band, adding flutist Artie Webb, bassist Julio Romero, singer/bassist Tito Allen, and a third trumpeter, Manny Duran. What Barretto and his band cooked up was a statement of resilience.

Released in 1973, the aptly-titled Indestructible boldly announced Barretto’s return to salsa. The album’s jacket was emblazoned with an iconic shot of the musician revealing a Superman costume under his shirt (another eye-catching design by Fania art director, Izzy Sanabria). Barretto’s real superpowers, however, were evident as soon as the needle touched the LP. Once again, he had reinvented the genre, with innovative instrumentation (his use of three trumpets and a flute was a first in salsa), intricate rhythm changes, and plenty of tightly-knit improvisations. 

Indestructible opens with a dynamic rendition of Tite Curet Alonso’s “El Hijo de Obatala.” Paying homage to the Yoruba deity in Santeria/Ifá, the energetic track keep listeners on their toes with rapidly fluctuating tempos. In liner notes for an earlier edition of the album, percussionist and radio host Bobby Sanabria spoke to Barretto’s impressive solo in the song, praising it as “a remarkable work of virtuosity, exploding with an opening continuous roll that lasts a full 17 bars with accents and open tones thrown in at surprising moments. He had finally developed his own style.”

Another spectacular performance is of José Curbello’s “La Familia,” which features backing vocals by two salsa legends: Panamanian singer Meñique and Hector “El Cantante” Lavoe, who was on the verge of breaking out as a major star at the time. The Roberto Rodriguez-penned guapachá “La Orquesta,” meanwhile, pays tribute to Barretto and includes several playful instrumentals. That sense of friskiness also carries over to “Llanto de Cocodrilo,” where Allen delivers his lyrics with a heavy dose of sarcasm.

The album climaxes with the jubilant title track. “Indestructible,” Sanabria wrote, “sums up the theme of this album – con sangre nueva, with new blood….[the] driving, in-your-face up-tempo guaracha that was Barretto’s answer to the heartbreak of his previous band quitting.” Ray Romero shines particularly bright on this track, which features a renowned 44-bar timbale solo. The song, meanwhile, would become a career-defining song for Barretto.

Praised by AllMusic as “A true find in Barretto’s vast catalog,” Indestructible not only reinforced Barretto’s star power, but also his versatile talents as a songwriter, bandleader, and producer. Following the release of the best-selling title, Barretto’s career continued to thrive, as the musician split his passions between jazz, salsa, and, often, somewhere in between. The conguero also stayed busy as the musical director of the legendary Fania All Stars, while he remained a sought-after percussionist, who played alongside acts like Bee Gees, the Rolling Stones, and Crosby, Stills & Nash. 

Barretto continued to innovate and inspire throughout the rest of his life, remaining active until his death in 2006. During his five-decade-long career, the prolific bandleader released more than 50 albums, including nine with his celebrated group, New World Spirit. Among many honors, the GRAMMY®-winning artist was inducted into the International Latin Music Hall of Fame in 1999, while in his final year, he received the prestigious Jazz Masters Award from the National Endowment for the Arts

Click here to pre-order Indestructible

Indestructible track list (Vinyl)

Side A: 1. El Hijo de Obatalá; 2. El Diablo; 3. Yo Tengo un Amor; 4. La Familia.

Side B: 1. La Orquesta; 2. Llanto de Cocodrilo; 3. Ay No; 4. Indestructible.

Indestructible tracklist (hi-res digital)

1. El Hijo de Obatalá; 2. El Diablo; 3. Yo Tengo un Amor; 4. La Familia; 5. La Orquesta; 6. Llanto de Cocodrilo; 7. Ay No; 8. Indestructible.

About Fania:

Highly influential, both musically and culturally,?Fania?Records spread the sound of salsa music from the clubs of New York City to the rest of the world and became a revered global brand in the process.?Fania’s master recording catalog is the definitive home for genres such as Latin big band, Afro-Cuban jazz, boogaloo, salsa and Latin R&B and includes artistic giants such as Celia Cruz, Willie Colón, Héctor Lavoe and Rubén Blades. With the creation of the international supergroup known as the?Fania?All-Stars, the label’s signature musical style became known as the “Fania?Sound.”?Fania’s rich master catalog also includes the Pete Rodriguez’s boogaloo classic “I Like It Like That” which was sampled by Cardi B in her #1 hit “I Like It. Additionally, three Fania Recordings, Celia & Johnny by Celia Cruz and Johnny Pacheco,?Azucar Pa’ Ti?by Eddie Palmieriand?Live at Yankee Stadium?by the?Fania?All-Stars, appear in the National Recording Registry, a list of sound recordings that “are culturally, historically or aesthetically important, and/or inform or reflect life in the United States.”

About Craft Latino:

Craft Latino is home to one of the largest and most prestigious collections of Latin music master recordings and compositions in the world. Its rich and storied repertoire includes legendary artists such as Antonio Aguilar, Joan Sebastian, Pepe Aguilar, Celia Cruz, Héctor Lavoe, Willie Colón, Ray Barretto, La Lupe, Ruben Blades and the Fania All Stars, to name just a few. Renowned imprints with catalogs issued under the Craft banner include Musart, Fania, TH, Panart, West Side Latino and Kubaney, among many others. Craft creates thoughtfully curated packages, with a meticulous devotion to quality and a commitment to preservation, ensuring that these recordings endure for new generations to discover. Craft Latino is the Latin repertoire arm of Craft Recordings. For more info, visit CraftRecordings.com.

Web Publisher. Founder, Editor & Webmaster for Latin Jazz Network, World Music Report & That Canadian Magazine. A passionate and committed communicator with a sensibility for the arts based in Toronto, Canada.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP

* indicates required

Most Read in 2023