Ray Barretto: Standards Rican-ditioned

BUY THIS ALBUM ON AMAZON.COM

This album Standards Rican-ditioned by Ray Barretto has a very special – albeit tragic – place in the history and in the everlasting library of Latin-Jazz. Not only was it the last album ever recorded by the legendary conguero, who died a month after it was recorded but it was also the last album ever on which the great Hilton Ruiz was heard. He too died mysteriously; many believe was murdered shortly after the songs were recorded. In fact we also know that even as Mr Barretto was recorded scatting on the final track, “Strange Music” that very chart remained incomplete and even as Mr Barretto was felled by cardiac arrest his son Chris, who played alto saxophone on two charts here, left his father’s side at the hospital to overdub the conga part on that last chart “Strange Music”, which will for that reason always live in the memory.

Listening to this rather special recording again more than a decade after it was made one has a sense of the vitality of the music both in terms of the visceral growling exchanges between trombonist Papo Vásquez with his plunger mute on “Baby, Baby All the Time” together with the rolling tenor saxophone of David Sánchez on that chart as well as on “Suddenly it’s Spring” which both men attack with blistering zeal. Exchanges such as these run rampant throughout the music which may be best enjoyed for the elegance of Mr Ruiz and the masterful slap and thrust of Mr Barretto throughout the programme as he extracted the melodic tones from the enormous colour palette that he employed on his instrument.

Throughout Mr Barretto shows why he was the keeper of the flame that had been lit long ago by the great rumberos of Afro-Caribbean music from whom he seems to have descended, albeit being a lifelong New Yorker of Puerto Rican ancestry. It is this ancestral and cultural collision that drew him into the American Songbook where he exercised his natural eloquent flair to re-imagine the almost sacred standards – as he called it here – Standards Rican-ditioned. There is also a perfectly polished gem played in solitary splendour by Mr Ruiz; “Something to Live For” is that song, which in the context of how life turned out for the brilliant pianist soon after this recording, comes with an eerily beautiful and ironic portentous air.

Chris Barretto certainly proves that he has the where with all to keep the flame lit by his father burning strong albeit mostly on alto saxophone, which he plays with the kind of passion that made the older Barretto one of the most emotive and evocative players. Likewise, it may be said (in this instance) that the proverbial “son also rises” especially on “Strange Music” where he wears the heavy mantle of his father with spirited lightness of being despite the emotionally draining circumstances in which that chart was completed. Meanwhile John Benitez on contrabass and Adam Cruz on drumset both serve notice as to why they are among the most formidable performers on their respective instruments. This magical album is beyond precious as a Latin-Jazz collector’s item.

Track list – 1: Lean on Me; 2: Trav’lin’ Light; 3: Ivy; 4: Suddenly It’s Spring; 5: I Had the Craziest Dream; 6: Something to Live For; 7: Baby, Baby All the Time; 8: Brandy’s Blues; 9: Strange Music

Personnel – Ray Barretto: congas (1 – 5, 7, 8) and scat vocals (9); Hilton Ruiz: piano; David Sanchez: tenor saxophone (1, 3, 4, 7, 9); Papo Vasquez: trombone (2, 4, 5, 7, 8); Chris Barretto: alto saxophone (2, 8) and congas (9); John Benitez: contrabass (1 – 5, 7 – 9); Adam Cruz: drums (1 – 5, 7 – 9)

Released – 2006
Label – ZOHO Records
Runtime – 52:48

Raul Da Gama
Raul Da Gama
Based in Milton, Ontario, Canada, Raul is a poet, musician and an accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep understanding of music, technically as well as historically.

More from author

1 COMMENT

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related posts

11,395FansLike
1,607FollowersFollow
656FollowersFollow
1,857FollowersFollow
5,694FollowersFollow
165SubscribersSubscribe

Featured Posts

Omar Sosa’s 88 Well-Tuned Drums: A Film by Soren Sorensen

Anyone approaching this film about the iconic Cuban composer and pianist Omar Sosa, by the award-winning filmmaker Soren Sorensen will be almost immediately struck...

Danilo Pérez featuring The Global Messengers: Crisálida

Danilo Pérez began forming his worldview - and aligning his music to it - ever since he came under the sphere of influence of...

The Feeling Messengers, Past and Present (Part II)

Miguelo Valdés & The New Messengers Of Feeling Miguel Valdés, or “Miguelo”, as he has since become known, was born in the province of La...

The Feeling Messengers, Past and Present (Part I)

Preamble Within the current renaissance of popular Cuban music, coupled with the seemingly eternal presence of its first cousin American Jazz, we are once again...

In Conversation with Carlos Cippelletti

Pianist, composer and arranger Carlos Cippelletti, is a promising young Spanish, Franco-Cuban artist from the last generation of Afro-Cuban jazz musicians born outside the...

Celebrating Jane Bunnett: Spirits of Havana’s 30th Anniversary

After dark they gather, the spirits of Havana. Is that a ghostly, but fatback-toned rapping down in the barrio where the great composer and...

Piazzolla Cien Años: Lord of the Tango@100

There is a now famous photograph of the great Ástor Piazzolla that is iconic for so many reasons. Chief among them is the manner...

Omara Portuondo, Multifaceted Gem of Cuban Music

My moon app announces that in 14 hours the Supermoon of May will be here. During a full moon I often get inspired to...

Ray Barretto · Barretto Power

Barretto Power: A Celebratory Reissue on its 50th Anniversary It was 1970 when Fania Records released Barretto Power, one of a series of seminal albums...

El Gran Fellové: Part 3- When my Parents…

When my parents bought their home in 1968, Sunset Beach was just another sleepy little beach town It spanned about one mile in length, sandwiched...

Join our mailing list

Participate in contests, giveaways and more