Ray Barretto, one of the leading lights of the salsa explosion and of the Fania label, will have his Barretto Power album released in a 50th anniversary vinyl edition by Craft Latino on October 23. It will also be issued in hi-res 96/24 and 192/24 digital formats for the first time. Craft Latino is the Latin division of Craft Recordings.
Barretto Power was released in 1970, some two years into the conga player and bandleader’s long association with Fania. It began a succession of genre-straddling, Afro-Caribbean masterworks that the Fania All-Stars member released in the first half of the decade. This was the album on which Barretto crystallized the tight and funky sound that he became known for, primarily in the salsa idiom and with such top players as Orestes Vilató on timbales and the young Andy González on bass.
Highlights of the LP include the enduring hit “Quítate La Máscara,” which established Adalberto Santiago as one of the great Afro-Caribbean singers of his time, and Puerto Rican composer Tite Curet Alonso’s frenetic “De Qué Te Quejas Tú.”
Barretto himself wrote the opening “Oye La Noticia,” which features a masterful piano solo by Louie Cruz and lyrics that condemn envy and jealousy among artists, a familiar topic for the bandleader. The album also features moments of socially conscious Latin Soul such as “Right On” and the closing jam “Power.”
Barretto, born in New York of Puerto Rican roots, started as a conga player with jazz titans such as Charlie Parker, Gene Ammons, Dizzy Gillespie and Kenny Burrell. NPR’s Jazz Profiles noted that he “is credited for being the first US-born percussionist to integrate the African-based conga drum into jazz. This fact has designated him as one of the early ‘crossover’ artists in jazz – skillfully balancing his Latin leanings and his love for bebop throughout a long and successful career.”
His significant development as a bandleader began in the late 1960s as he fused Latin soul and jazz with boogaloo and traditional Afro-Cuban dance formats. As the boogaloo movement receded, Barretto became a key part of the emerging salsa movement. Barretto Power was followed by such LPs as The Message (1971), Qué Viva La Música (1972) and Indestructible (1973). Before his death in 2006, he always spoke emotionally about his classic salsa records.
The new edition of Barretto Power has all-analog mastering by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio and represents the album’s first vinyl reissue since its original release. The 180 gram vinyl edition has been manufactured at Memphis Record Pressing.