Raymundo "Ray" Barretto Pagán (April 29, 1929 – February 17, 2006) was an American percussionist and bandleader of Puerto Rican descent.[2] Throughout his career as a percussionist, he played a wide variety of Latin music styles, as well as Latin jazz. His first hit, "El Watusi", was recorded by his Charanga Moderna in 1962, becoming the most successful pachanga song in the United States. In the late 1960s, Barretto became one of the leading exponents of boogaloo and what would later be known as salsa. Nonetheless, many of Barretto's recordings would remain rooted in more traditional genres such as son cubano. A master of the descarga (improvised jam session), Barretto was a long-time member of the Fania All-Stars.[3][2] His success continued into the 1970s with songs such as "Cocinando" and "Indestructible". His last album for Fania Records, Soy dichoso, was released in 1990. He then formed the New World Spirit jazz ensemble and continued to tour and record until his death in 2006.

Raymundo "Ray" Barretto Pagán
Background information
Born(1929-04-29)April 29, 1929
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
DiedFebruary 17, 2006(2006-02-17) (aged 76)
Hackensack, New Jersey, U.S.
  • Musician
  • bandleader
  • Congas
  • drums
  • percussion
Years active1949–2006
Formerly ofThe Blackout All-Stars, Fania All-Stars, Adalberto Santiago
Military Service[1]
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service1946-1949
Rank Private First Class

Life and career edit

Early years edit

Barretto was born on April 29, 1929, in New York City. His parents moved to New York from Puerto Rico in the early 1920s, looking for a better life. His father left their family when Barretto was four, and his mother Delores moved the family to the Bronx,[2][3][4] and from a young age he was influenced by his mother's love of music and by the jazz of Duke Ellington and Count Basie.[5][6][7]

In 1946, when Barretto was 17 years old, he joined the Army. While stationed in Germany, he met Belgian vibraphonist Fats Sadi. However, it was when he heard Dizzy Gillespie's "Manteca" with Gil Fuller and Chano Pozo that he realized his calling.[5][6][7] Barretto was not able to escape racial discrimination while stationed in Germany, which led him to a nightclub that was welcoming to black servicemen. He was able to start his music career at this club by playing the back head of a banjo.[3]

Beginnings as a sideman edit

In 1949, when Barretto returned home from military service, he started to visit clubs and participated in jam sessions, where he perfected his conga playing. He is credited as being the first U.S. born percussionist to incorporate the conga drum into jazz.[8] On one occasion Charlie Parker heard Barretto play and invited him to play in his band. Later, he was asked to play for José Curbelo and Tito Puente, for whom he played for four years. It was in 1958, while playing for Puente, that Barretto received his first recording credit.[4] Barretto developed a unique style of playing the conga and soon he was sought by other jazz band leaders. Latin percussionists started to appear in jazz groups with frequency as a consequence of Barretto's musical influence.[5][6][7]

In 1963 Barreto played conga on Kenny Burrell's album Midnight Blue, noted by several critics as one of the greatest jazz albums.

Charanga Moderna and rise to fame edit

In 1960, Barretto was a house musician for the Prestige, Blue Note, and Riverside labels.[4] He also recorded on Columbia Records with Jazz flautist Herbie Mann.[9] New York had become the center of Latin music in the United States and a musical genre called pachanga was the Latin music craze of the early 1960s. In 1962, Barretto formed his first group, Charanga La Moderna,[3] and recorded his first hit, "El Watusi" for Tico Records.[2] He was quite successful with the song and the genre, to the point of being typecast (something that he disliked).[5][6][7]

Boogaloo and early salsa edit

In 1965, Barretto signed with the Latin division of United Artists, UA Latino, and began recording a series of albums in the boogaloo genre, which merges rhythm and blues with Latin music. On his album El Ray Criollo, Barretto explored the modern Latin sounds of New York, combining features of charanga and conjunto to birth a new style which would later be known as salsa. After recording four albums for the United Artists label, Barretto joined the Fania record label in 1967, and his first recording for the new label was the 1968 album Acid, which is often cited as one of the most enduring boogaloo albums, with songs such as "A Deeper Shade of Soul" and the title track was included in the soundtrack of the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories on the fictitious Latin music radio station "Radio Espantoso". During this period, Adalberto Santiago was the band's lead vocalist.

Success with Fania edit

Ray Barretto at UC Berkeley Jazz Festival 1982

In 1972 Barretto's Que viva la música was released. "Cocinando," a track from the album, opened the soundtrack of the Fania All Stars film Our Latin Thing in which Barretto had a role. After a number of successful albums, and just as his Afro-Cuban band had attained a remarkable following, most of its members left it to form Típica 73, a multinational salsa conglomerate. In 1973, Barretto recorded the album Indestructible, in which he played "La familia", a song written by José Curbelo in 1953 and recorded by the sonero Carlos Argentino with the Cuban band Sonora Matancera; Tito Allen joined as new vocalist. Allen left the band after Indestructible. The series of departures left Barretto depressed and disappointed with salsa; he then redirected his efforts to jazz, while remaining as musical director of the Fania All Stars. In 1975 he released Barretto, also referred to as the Guararé album, with new vocalists Ruben Blades and Tito Gomez.[5][6][7]

Barretto played the conga in recording sessions for the Rolling Stones and the Bee Gees. He performanced on Herbie Mann's "Discotheque" album also.[10] In 1975, he was nominated for a Grammy Award for the album Barretto. From 1976 to 1978, Barretto recorded three albums for Atlantic Records, and was nominated for a Grammy for Barretto Live...Tomorrow. In 1979, he recorded La Cuna for CTI Records and produced a salsa record for Fania, titled Rican/Struction, which was named 1980 "Best Album" by Latin N.Y. Magazine, with Barretto crowned as 'Conga Player of the Year'.[5][6][7]

New World Spirit edit

Ray Barretto (left) performing in Deauville, France, in 1991

In 1990, Barretto won his only Grammy, in the Tropical Music category, for the album Ritmo en el corazón ("Rhythm in the Heart"), a collaboration featuring the vocals of Celia Cruz and Adalberto Santiago.[2] His 1968 song "A Deeper Shade Of Soul" was sampled for the 1991 Billboard Hot 100 #21 hit "Deeper Shade of Soul" by Dutch band Urban Dance Squad.[5][6][7]

Also in the 1990s, a Latin agent, Chino Rodríguez, approached Barretto with a concept he also pitched to Larry Harlow. The idea was "The Latin Legends of Fania", and Barretto, Harlow, Yomo Toro, Pete "el Conde" Rodríguez, Junior González, Ismael Miranda, and Adalberto Santiago came together and formed "The Latin Legends of Fania", booked by Chino Rodríguez of Latin Music Booking.com. However, in 1992[3] Barretto left the Legends to focus on his new jazz ensemble, New World Spirits,[2] with which he recorded several albums for the Concord Jazz label.[11]

In 1999, Barretto was inducted into the International Latin Music Hall of Fame.[5][6][7]

In 2006, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded Barretto its Jazz Masters Award.[4][12]

Barretto lived in Northern New Jersey and was an active musical producer, as well as the leader of a touring band which embarked on tours of the United States, Africa, Europe, Israel and Latin America.[5][6][7]

Death edit

A resident of Norwood, New Jersey, Barretto died of heart failure and complications of multiple health issues on February 17, 2006, at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey.[4] His body was flown to Puerto Rico, where Barretto was given formal honors by the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture; his remains were cremated.[5][6][7]

Discography edit

External audio
  You may listen to Ray Barretto's "El Watusi" on YouTube.

As leader edit

  • Barretto para bailar (Riverside, 1961)
  • Latino! (Riverside, 1962)
  • Charanga Moderna (Tico, 1962)
  • Moderna de Siempre (Tico, 1963)
  • On Fire Again (Encendido otra vez) (Tico, 1963)
  • The Big Hits Latin Style (Tico, 1963)
  • Guajira y guaguancó (Tico, 1964)
  • Viva Watusi! (United Artists, 1965)
  • Señor 007 (United Artists, 1966)
  • El Ray Criollo (United Artists, 1966)
  • Latino con Soul (United Artists, 1966)
  • Fiesta En El Barrio (United Artists, 1967)
  • Acid (Fania, 1968)
  • Hard Hands (Fania, 1968)
  • Together (Fania, 1969)
  • Head Sounds (Fania, 1969)
  • Barretto Power (Fania, 1970)
  • The Message (Fania, 1971)
  • From the Beginning (Fania, 1971)
  • Que viva la música (Fania, 1972)
  • Indestructible (Fania, 1973)
  • The Other Road (Fania, 1973)
  • Barretto (Fania, 1975)
  • Tomorrow: Barretto Live (Atlantic, 1976)
  • Energy to Burn (Fania, 1977)
  • Eye of the Beholder (Atlantic, 1977)
  • Can You Feel It? (Atlantic, 1978)
  • Gracias (Fania, 1978)
  • La Cuna (CTI Records, 1979)
  • Rican/Struction (Fania, 1979)
  • Giant Force (Fania, 1980)
  • Rhythm of Life (Fania, 1982)
  • Todo se va poder (Fania, 1984)
  • Aquí se puede (Fania, 1987)
  • Irresistible (Fania, 1989)
  • Ritmo en el Corazón (Fania, 1990)
  • Handprints (Concord Picante, 1991)
  • Soy Dichoso (Fania, 1992)
  • Live in New York (Messidor, 1992)
  • Salsa Caliente de Nu York (Universe, 2001)
  • Fuerza Gigante: Live in Puerto Rico April 27, 2001 (Universe, 2004)
  • Standards Rican-ditioned (Zoho Music, 2006)

With New World Spirit

  • Ancestral Messages (Concord Picante, 1992)
  • Taboo (Concord Picante, 1994)
  • My Summertime (Owl, 1995)
  • Contact! (Blue Note, 1998)
  • Portraits in Jazz and Clave (RCA, 2000)
  • Trancedance (Circular Moves, 2001)
  • Homage to Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers (Sunnyside, 2003)
  • Hot Hands (compilation of Ancestral Messages and Taboo[13]) (Concord Picante, 2003)
  • Time Was - Time Is (O+ Music, 2005)

As sideman edit

With Gene Ammons

With Kenny Burrell

With Celia Cruz

  • Tremendo Trío! (Fania, 1983)
  • Ritmo en el Corazón (Fania, 1989)

With Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis

With Lou Donaldson

With Jimmy Forrest

With Eddie Harris

With Yusef Lateef

With Johnny Lytle

With Herbie Mann

With Johnny "Hammond" Smith

With Sonny Stitt

With Cal Tjader

  • Along Comes Cal (Verve, 1967)
  • Hip Vibrations (Verve, 1967)

With others

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Barretto Pagan, Raymundo, PFC | TWS".
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Ray Barretto | American percussionist and bandleader". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2020-06-12.
  3. ^ a b c d e "NPR's Jazz Profiles: Ray Barretto". legacy.npr.org. Retrieved 2020-06-12.
  4. ^ a b c d e Chinen, Nate (2006-02-18). "Ray Barretto, a Master of the Conga Drum, Dies at 76". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-06-12.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Guzman, Pablo (2006-02-21). "Ray Barretto, 1929–2006". Village Voice. Retrieved 2017-05-12.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Drummerworld: Ray Barretto". Drummerworld.com. Retrieved 2017-05-12.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Ray Barretto discography at MusicBrainz
  8. ^ Arrieta, Rolando. "NPR's Jazz Profiles: Ray Barreto".
  9. ^ Puente, Celia Cruz, Tito Rodriguez, Herbie Mann, Ray Barretto, Johnny Pacheco, Carlos "Patato" Valdes, Santos Colón, Santos Miranda – Salsa
  10. ^ Atlantic Records Catalog: 1600 series Retrieved 15 February 2024
  11. ^ "Ray Barretto - Concord". concord.com. Retrieved 2023-11-01.
  12. ^ "In Memoriam: Ray Barretto, 1929-2006". NEA. 2012-12-19. Retrieved 2020-06-12.
  13. ^ Ray Barretto & New World Spirit - Hot Hands, 2003, retrieved 2023-08-08

External links edit