Ray Barretto 1929 – 2006 :
taken from the album “El ‘Ray’ Criollo” on United Artists (1966)
The Soul Drummers
taken from the album “Acid” on Fania (1967)
taken from the album “Hard Hands” on Fania (1968)
taken from the album “Barretto Power” on Fania (1972)
taken from the album “La Cuna” on CTI (1981)
Somehow I can’t imagine Ray Barretto “resting in peace”. The man was all about causing a raucous, stirring things up and making it funky. From his younger years in the jazz scene as a session musician (appearing on records with Art Blakey and Lou Donaldson among many others) ’til his more recent efforts, Ray made the conga clap like few others in history have. O-Dub and Jeff Chang have teamed up on a proper homage piece that you can find at Soul-Sides.com. I can’t really add too much in the way of historical significance, but on a personal note, this man is one of the main reasons I got into Latin music in the first place. Being a DJ that relies heavily on afro-latin music, people often wonder what the hell a whiteboy like me is doing digging so deep into salsa. I can always say “Look at Larry and Andy Harlow, look at Symphony Sid, whiteboys have always been into salsa”, but really it has to do with the fact that the music is simply irresistable; that the first time I heard “Soul Drummers” I could barely contain my excitement. Barretto was one of those rare geniuses, regardless of genre or era or location on the planet, that knew how to bang out a rhythm so contagious it’s nearly impossible not to enjoy- my weekly TOQUE sessions are definitely a testament to this. You hit ’em with boogaloo and latin soul, then drop the serious descarga jams, the dancefloor will be moving.
Ray was in it from the early days, shaping the Nuyorican Sound, giving the salsa its sabor picante, consitently putting out records with proud positive messages and thunderous breakbeats. I’m gonna try to finish a Barretto Mixwith Busquelo in the upcoming week, but until then, here’s a few of my favorites (to add to the ones that O-Dub’s already got up).