The Album's First Vinyl Reissue Since 1972
Craft Latino announces a post-50th anniversary reissue of Ray Barretto’s classic salsa album, Que Viva La Música. A landmark title in the influential bandleader and conguero’s prolific catalog, Que Viva La Música features such favorites as “Cocinando,” “La Pelota,” and the title track – all performed by Barretto’s legendary original band (including Adalberto Santiago and Orestes Vilató). Available for pre-order today, the long-out-of-print album was cut from the original master tapes (AAA) by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio and returns to vinyl for the first time in decades on May 26. The LP is pressed on 180-gram vinyl and housed in a classic tip-on jacket, replicating Izzy Sanabria’s stunning cover art. A Ruby Red Vinyl variant color will be available exclusively at Fania.com. On digital platforms, meanwhile, Que Viva La Música will make its debut in hi-res audio (192/24).
Conguero and bandleader Ray Barretto (1929–2006) was one of the foremost names in Latin jazz, boogaloo, and Afro-Cuban rhythms. A pioneering salsa artist, who also kept one foot planted firmly in jazz, the versatile musician remained in the spotlight for more than five decades. Born in Brooklyn to Puerto Rican parents and raised in the Bronx, Barretto grew up admiring both the swing of Count Basie and Duke Ellington, as well as the rhythms of Arsenio Rodríguez and Machito Grillo. By the end of the ’50s, he was a member of Tito Puente’s legendary band and had become the go-to conguero in the New York City jazz scene. Over the next decade, he would appear as a sideman on albums by greats like Wes Montgomery, Cal Tjader, Kenny Burrell, and Dizzy Gillespie, while enjoying success as a bandleader (his 1963 hit, “El Watusi,” made him an international sensation).
When Barretto joined Fania Records in 1967, he had released a dozen albums as a leader and was a leading voice in boogaloo – a New York-centric style that blended R&B, soul, and Afro-Cuban beats. His supremely funky 1968 Fania debut, Acid, introduced the Ray Barretto Orchestra (featuring singer Adalberto Santiago, timbalero Orestes Vilató, trumpeter Rene Lopez, bongosero Johnny “Dandy” Rodríguez, and bassist David Perez, among others) and launched a decades-long partnership with the legendary label. Que Viva La Música, released at the tail end of 1972, marked the orchestra’s final album together – but also one of their greatest.
Considered by many Afro-Cuban music scholars to be a highlight of Barretto’s prolific career – as well as a touchstone of ’70s salsa music, Que Viva La Música found the bandleader reaching a new apex. In liner notes for an earlier CD edition of the album, music journalist Ernesto Lechner wrote that the artist’s
“transition from the early charanga and Latin soul excursions of the ’60s to the hard-edged salsa sound of the ’70s had been successfully completed. Barretto had raised the temperature of his music as high as it could possibly get. The beats, the swing, and the intensity of his musical manifesto was simply reckless. His band, too, had achieved a complete communion of musical souls….”
Among the album’s highlights is the joyful anthem “Que Viva la Música,” which opens with a dramatic swell of percussion and horns – letting listeners know that they are in for something special. Another treat is Barretto’s enduring salsa hit, “La Pelota,” which slowly builds in intensity and ignites into a fiery number. The band puts their own stamp on Arsenio Rodríguez’s classic “Bruca Maniguá,” while singer Adalberto Santiago shines particularly bright on the soulful ballad, “Triunfó El Amor.” The standout track, however, is “Cocinando” – a hypnotic, ten-minute-long psychedelic jam. Not long after it was recorded, the iconic composition was chosen to open Leon Gast’s 1972 documentary, Our Latin Thing, which showcases New York City’s exploding salsa scene.
Despite the enormous popularity of Que Viva La Música, the album marked the end of an era for Barretto. Not long after its release, five members of his band (including Santiago and Vilató) broke off to form Típica 73. Despite the highly publicized split, Barretto moved forward with his thriving career, splitting his interests between jazz and salsa. The conguero also remained busy as the musical director of the legendary Fania All Stars, while he continued to be an in-demand studio musician, appearing on albums by the Bee Gees, the Rolling Stones, and Crosby, Stills & Nash.
Remaining active until his death in 2006, Barretto released more than 50 albums during his career, including nine with his celebrated band, New World Spirit, in the ’90s and 2000s. Among many honors, Barretto earned a GRAMMY® for his 1988 collaboration with Celia Cruz, Ritmo en el Corazón, while in 1999, he was inducted into the International Latin Music Hall of Fame. In his final year, he received the prestigious Jazz Masters Award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
1. Que Viva la Música
2. Bruca Maniguá
3. La Pelota
4. El Tiempo lo Dirá
2. Triunfó el Amor
3. Alafia Cumaye