Ray Barretto, one of the most profilic and influental Latin percussionists in the history of modern jazz, makes an invaluable addition to his extensive recording legacy with the release of "My Summertime". With a musical heritage as deeply rooted in the bebop jam sessions held in Harlem during the late-'40s as in his Puerto Rican ancestry, Barretto has spent over four decades refining the integration of Afro-Caribbean rhythms with the improvisational elements of jazz.
Few artists have been as successful over the years at fusing these two genres as Barretto, an undisputed master of this style. A pioneer of the salsa movement, Barretto achieved international superstardom and released nearly two dozen albums with the Fania label from the late-'60s until salsa's popularity peaked in the mid-1980's. "The Fania years were fun, challenging and productive years. I was able to use some of the things I learned in jazz and apply it to the charts I used in the Latin band. And it certainly got my name out there"; he says with a laugh. "But while I had the privilege of working with Celia Cruz, Johnny Pacheco, Tito Puente, Willie Colon, Ruben Blades and other great musicians, there was a downside too.
I discovered that after some 20 years with Fania I had become typecast as a 'Latin artist.' That turned out to be extremely limiting when I tried to interest jazz labels in signing me." This is ironic given Barretto's history. The son of Puerto Ricanimmigrants who was raised by a single mother from the age of four, he was exposed to jazz while still a child."I was born in Brooklyn in 1929 andgrew up half in Harlem and half in the Bronx, Barretto recalls. "My mother would play Latin music during the day, but she'd have to leave me, my brother and sister home alone so she could go to night school and learn English.
Radio helped us make it through those nights as we listened to Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, Harry James and other big bands. They were our baby-sitters!" Although Barretto was attracted to jazz as a child, it wasn't until he joined the army and was sent to Germany in 1946 that he realized he was destined to be a musician.
Ray Barretto died on Friday, February 17, 2006 at a New Jersey hospital, a family spokesman said. He was 76.
Barretto died at Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, New Jersey, George Rivera said in a statement. Barretto had undergone heart bypass surgery in January 2006, according to press reports.
John Benitez Hilton Ruiz David Sanchez Papo Vazquez Ray Barretto Adam Cruz Chris Barretto, alto sax
|This final CD recording shows Ray Barretto and his all-star band at the absolute peak of his and their creative powers. What adds extra poignancy to his album is that it also features for the first time Ray’s son Chris Barretto, 20 years old, on alto sax, in two stunning solos. Chris is presently studying at the Manhattan School of Music. “Ray was so proud of his son's accomplishments that he made me listen to the solos over the telephone, right after they were recorded”
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