Zoho label set to release Standards Rican-ditioned, Ray Barretto’s Last CD Recording

Ray Barretto - Standards Rican-ditioned
Ray Barretto – Standards Rican-ditioned
New York (New York), USA – Latin and Jazz indie label Zoho Music L.L.C. has announced the release of Standards Rican-ditioned, the last recording by the legendary percussionist Ray Barretto– who passed away unexpectedly on February 17, 2006, at the age of 76. The planned release date is August 14, 2006.

In the summer of 2005, Ray Barretto met with Jochen Becker from Zoho in New York
City to discuss plans for his next recording. Ray wanted to record with an all-star ensemble of top Puerto Rican musicians. Ray wanted to feature them in a 1950’s Blue Note-style straight ahead blowing session playing classic jazz standards. His intentions were to feature standards that are rarely heard today, songs he heard when he was getting started as a musician in the late 1940’s. The repertoire was to be performed by these great Puerto Rican musicians – who would be playing this material for the first time. It was of importance to Ray to showcase these extraordinary players in a musical context outside of what could be referred to as “Latin Jazz”.

The band Ray assembled for this recording features Hilton Ruiz on piano, David Sánchez on tenor sax, Papo Vazquez on trombone, John Benitez on bass and Adam Cruz on drums. The recording sessions took place at Kaleidoscope Sound in Union City, New Jersey, from December 14 to 16, 2005.

The song selection and arrangements again demonstrate Ray’s meticulous care with detail, and his encyclopedic knowledge of the by-ways of the classic “Great American Song Book” repertoire. An example: the ballad “Suddenly It’s Spring”, as performed by a young Frank Sinatra in the early 1940s, which Sinatra never officially recorded. Ray possessed a rare live radio broadcast check tape of it – which was carefully transcribed by pianist Hilton Ruiz [Hilton Ruiz is currently in a coma] for the present recording.

This final recording is demonstrative of Ray and the band’s creative powers. What adds extra poignancy to this recording is that it also features for the first time Ray’s 20 years old son Chris Barretto, on two stunning alto sax solos. Chris is presently studying at the Manhattan School of Music. “Ray was so proud of his son’s accomplishments that he made me listen to the solos over the telephone, right after they were recorded”, remembers Jochen Becker.

The mixing of the record took place at Kaleidoscope Sound, under Ray’s direction, in late December 2005 and early January 2006. Ray completed and approved the mixes for all but the last track, “Strange Music”.

Chris Barretto plays conga on this tune, and stepped in as associate producer to finalize mixing and mastering the recording. In a particularly inspired choice, Chris decided to incorporate a percussive scat-vocal by Ray which was originally only intended to mark the chorus which Ray himself intended to overdub later with congas, in the final mix of the track.

Ray also left instructions for the mastering, to be done by Allan Tucker from Foothill Digital, New York.

In the quiet time of his last days in the hospital, this was the only “Strange Music” which Ray was able to listen to: his son Chris playing for him at his bedside, and the mixes for “Standards Rican-ditioned”, remembers Annette “Brandy” Barretto, Ray’s widow.

We’ll of course carry out his wishes on both the final mix and mastering”, promises Jochen Becker. “I am thrilled, honored and humbled by the fact that Ray chose Zoho to release what has now become his final masterpiece.”

Present plans are to release the CD on August 15, 2006.