Ray Barretto's Carnaval combines two 1962 sessions, Pachanga with Barretto (his Milestone label debut as a leader) and Latino!. Both sets feature Barretto's first band, Charanga Moderna, with trumpeter El Negro Vivar and tenor saxophonist Jose Chombo Silva added to the front line for the latter LP. The first album is very much Latin jazz of its time, with all ten tracks designed for dancing the briefly popular pachanga, a dance that was simply too manic and difficult to catch on widely. The pachanga-friendly tempos on these ten brief cuts (most under three minutes) make the album sound rushed and nervous to ears unfamiliar with the dance fad. The far-better Latino!, recorded in nearly the same session, is a good old-fashioned jam session, with more leisurely tempos and extended playing times that give all the soloists – especially Vivar, Silva, and flutist Jose Canoura – plenty of room to stretch out. These two albums are very different, but hearing both of them in proximity reveals much about the state of the New York City Latin jazz scene in the early '60s.
Ray Barretto a.k.a. King of the Hard Hands (April 29, 1929 – February 17, 2006), was an American jazz musician, widely credited as the godfather of Latin jazz. He was also the first Hispanic to record a Latin song which became a "hit" in the American Billboard Charts.
The sleeve notes say it best: Ray Barretto was one of the true originals of New York Latin music. His career spanned the whole of its post-war development from dancehalls to the stadium-sized salsa concerts of the ’70s and beyond.Born in New York to Puerto Rican parents on April 29, 1929, Ray grew up surrounded by a melting pot of musical influences. Drafted into the army at the age of 17, it was in the immediate post-war Germany that he heard the record that changed his life Manteca by the Dizzie Gillespie band which at the time featured the Cuban percussion legend Chano Pozo on the conga.
Producer Creed Taylor has inspired everything from praise to anger among jazz fans. His work has been brilliant at times, detrimental at others (his worst flaw being a tendency to overproduce). Taylor plays a mostly positive role on La Cuna, a jazz-oriented effort uniting Ray Barretto with such first-class talent as Tito Puente (timbales) and the late Joe Farrell (tenor & soprano sax, flute). ~ AllMusic
If you wonder (a) why Barretto suddenly has such a hot band, (b) what the two hokey Mexicali cuts are doing mixed in with all the other fine stuff, and © why there are zippo notes, one explanation fits all. This CD, copyright 1994, is a re-release of one of Barretto's long-lost 1960s United Artists recordings. But the music is terrific: a hell of a swing, great solo trumpet.