Fania All Stars
San Juan 73 (Fania/Emusica, 2009)
From the Fania vaults comes this small treasure. San Juan 73 is a previously unreleased live recording made at the Coliseo Roberto Clemente by the Fania All Stars, one of the legendary groups of salsa music. In the 1970s, the band was at its prime and featured many of the biggest legends in the American salsa scene: instrumentalists Johnny Pacheco (musical director and percussion), Larry Harlow (piano), Ray Barretto (congas), Bobby Valentin (electric bass), Yomo Toro (cuatro), Roberto Roena (bongos), Nicky Marrero (timbales), Raymond Maldonado (trumpet), Victor Paz (trumpet), Roberto Rodriguez (trumpet), Barry Rogers (trombone), Willie Colon (trumpet), and Lewis Khan (trombone).
Several of the top salsa vocalists of the era were also there: Hector Lavoe, Cheo Feliciano, Celia Cruz, Bobby Cruz, Ismael Miranda, Ismael Quintana, Pete "El Conde" Rodriguez, Santos Colon and Justo Betancourt.
The concert was a sold-out success. Over two thousand fans were left outside. Promoter, Rafael Viera recalls, "It was the beginning of something that to this day, has not be surpassed by anything in Latin Music. The Fania All Stars became a religion. Every radio station played the music, everyone danced to the sounds of ‘Quitate Tu’ and ‘Estrellas De Fania.’"
But there’s more, in addition to crowd favorites like "El Ratón," and "Pueblo Latino," another special treat comes with track 8, titled "Soul Makossa." Yes, this is the pop hit by Cameroonian musician Manu Dibango. The African star joined the salsa luminaries with his vocals and sax, performing an incendiary makossa meets salsa live version of his popular song.
As I mentioned earlier, this gem was never released until Emusica staff "discovered" it: "That the San Juan concert was ever recorded was soon forgotten and the tapes were put into deep storage, untouched for over 30 years. However when I was searching the Fania archive, I stumbled across most of them," says A&R Specialist Dean Rudland.
San Juan 73 is a soulfully innovative salsa masterpiece.
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Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.