Sunday, August 3, 2008
Bacoso says :
One of my all time top 5. Recorded in 1978 with a totally banging rhythm section, this LP is the best thing Bellson ever did. Completely on the case, Bellson gathered the finest percussionists with the greatest afro cuban bass player Cachao and committed this fantastic LP to wax. No more needs to be said - just download it ! Vinyl rip @ 320.
Simon says :
I'll disobey and add more :)
First, thanks for the re-up Bacoso!
Powerhouse drummer Louie Bellson is best known for both straight-ahead jazz sessions and in particular for big band dates like "Note Smoking", featuring at various times most of the personnel of the previously posted Frank Strazzeri album, with saxaphonist Don Menza being something of a mainstay. Cheeba's also posted the Bellson albums "Dynamite!"; "Louie Bellson Jam" and "The Louie Bellson Explosion" here.
Bellson's move to Pablo Records seems to have prompted a few experiments, one being something of a "drum-off" with Billy Cobham on "Matterhorn", and the other being this fantastic latin workout.
There's a second drummer, Alejandro "Alex" Acuna, who at the time was the drummer for Weather Report on albums like "Black Market" and "Heavy Weather" - though we're a long way from "Birdland", Dorothy, this is more Funky Chickenland.
On various basses and occasional fender rhodes we've got cuban legend Cachao - a seminal figure in the development of both the mambo and descarga, who passed away earlier this year. 2nd bassist John B. Williams Jr. had been working with Bellson's big bands over the preceding few years.
Main man on the fender rhodes is Clare Fischer, who around this time was recording a series of his own albums on MPS Records; leaving a rhodes mark on albums like Cal Tjader's "Guarabe" and Hubert Laws' "Then There Was Light"; and on the soul-funk side was doing some memorable string arrangements and orchestrations on the Jackson's "Destiny", and also the Chaka Khan and Rufus album "Ask Rufus" (his arrangements on the earlier "Rags to Rufus" and "Rufusized" are also inspired).
On woodwinds there's Lew Tabackin, whose flute featured prominently in Donald Byrd's post-Bitches Brew shift from hard bop to electrification on the albums "Fancy Free", notably "Kofi" (check his work on the first two tracks) and then "Electric Byrd", on which he also played tenor sax.
On trumpets, there's another Cuban legend Alejandro "El Negro" Vivar, who had played with both de los Reyes and Cachao since the 1950s on classic albums like Cachao's "Cuban Jam Sessions in Miniature", and also Duke Ellington veteran Cat Anderson, described by AMG's Scott Yanow as "arguably the greatest high-note trumpeter of all time", and heard on several tracks of Quincy Jones' "You've Got it Bad Girl".
But of course it all comes down to the percussion here. Legendary Cuban percussionist Walfredo de los Reyes Sr. assembles a crack team of percussionists whose obvious joy at playing together here spills over so strongly that you expect them to start bashing the microphones with mallets. It's an early appearance for his son Walfredo Jr, the third generation of this musical family, and the other percussionists were people strongly involved in some of the more interesting crossovers of the time
The amazing Francisco Aguabella (also comped on "Latin Rhodes 2" ) sits perfectly in this session, continuing his 70s involvement in merging latin forms, funk and jazz on albums like Joe Henderson's "Canyon Lady". Jorge Santana's Malo albums, Eddie Palmieri's great "Lucumi, Macumba, Voodoo" and his own fantastic album"Hitting Hard". Dizzy Gillespie once described Aguabella as "the John Coltrane of the conga drums".
Veteran of literally hundreds of studio dates, vibes and cuica man Emil Richards contributed an array of percussion instruments and background vocals to Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get it On", and played marimba on the George Duke albums "I Love the Blues, She Heard My Cry" and "Liberated Fantasies".
Around this time, conga player Luis Conte was contributing to the Caldera albums "Time and Chance" and "Dreamer", and later went on to the first two (and best) Me'Shell Ndegeocello albums "Plantation Lullabies" and "Peace Beyond Passion". He had a resurgence of interest in his career as a bandleader when broader public interest in Cuban music increased after the "Buena Vista Social Club" phenomenon. I'm now also officially after his 1978 album "Black Forest" on Denon, particularly as it's described by Yanow as "of lesser interest since it is funky". The horror .....
Also firmly in the latin-funk crossover camp around this time was Puerto Rican percussionist Manolo Badrena, who was also contributing to Airto Moreira's "I'm Fine How Are You?", Weather Report's "Heavy Weather" and "Mr Gone", and George Duke's "Reach For it".
Finally, I was intrigued by the crazy moog synth ring modulation loops in the final track 'Ecué', provided by Francisco "Paquito" Hechavarria, a stalwart of many a Cachao and de los Reyes album, and who also plays a mean rhodes here on the track 'Salsa En Cinco'. Hechavarria contributed piano to many Miami Sound Machine albums in the 80s, released some solo albums, and later retired to piano bar work in Miami.
Intriguingly, Paquito also contributed some "spicy" piano to a (thankfully) instrumental remix of the Spice Girls "Spice Up Your Life" (the "Murk Sugar Cane Dub"), so at the extreme edge of this album's spirit of merging musical forms, let's outro with that!
01. 'Javilla' - (Louie Bellson) - 5:45
02. 'Sentido En Seis' (Six Feeling) - (Emil Richards) - 7:30
03. 'Para Buenos Bailarines' (For Good Dancers) - (Louie Bellson) - 6:35
04. 'Salsa En Cinco' (Salsa In Five) - (Walfredo de los Reyes) - 8:40
05. 'Ecué' - (Israel Lopez) - 11:47
Louis Bellson - drums, moog drum
Walfredo De Los Reyes, Sr. - conga, timbales, cowbell, clave, percussion
Walfredo De Los Reyes, Jr - pans, drums, maracas, chekere
Alejandro "Alex" Acuña - drums
Francisco Aguabella - batá, conga, quinto, claves
Emil Richards - cuica, vibes, afuche
Manolo Badrena - chekere, cowbell, roto toms, african bells
Luis Conte - conga
John B. Williams, Jr - acoustic and fender bass
Israel "Cachao" Lopez - fender baby bass, acoustic bass, fender rhodes
Clare Fisher - electric piano - (tracks 1-3)
Francisco "Paquito" Hechavarria - electric piano, moog synthesizer - (tracks 4-5)
Lew Tabackin - flute, tenor saxophone
Alejandro "El Negro" Vivar - trumpet
Cat Anderson - trumpet
Producer - Norman Granz
Engineer - Angel Ballestier
Label: Pablo Records
Recorded Los Angeles, January 21-22, 1977
Vinyl rip by Bacoso
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