6 Songs, 39 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

With 1981’s La Cuna, Ray Barretto found the ideal balance of Afro-Cuban authenticity and the new electronic-inflected grooves of jazz fusion. A big part of this came from the right combination of players. Though La Cuna was produced and released by CTI—the leading fusion label of the '70s—Barretto made sure the band included veterans of the salsa scene, including bassist Francisco Centeno, percussionist Charlie Palmieri, and the titan of the timbales himself, Tito Puente. These players were complemented by CTI stalwarts like saxophonist Joe Farrell, drummer Steve Gadd, and synth man Jeremy Wall (of Spyro Gyra). The resulting songs blend the lush, cloaked aura of a CTI album with the propulsion of a great salsa band. The title song is one of Barretto’s best, a sleek streamlined rendition of a classic Cuban rhythm. With vocals by Willie Torres, the band’s version of Stevie Wonder’s “Pastime Paradise” adds street-corner flavor to the original. But the closer, “Cocinado,” is what steals the show; it achieves the near-impossible trick of being hushed and explosive at the same time.

EDITORS’ NOTES

With 1981’s La Cuna, Ray Barretto found the ideal balance of Afro-Cuban authenticity and the new electronic-inflected grooves of jazz fusion. A big part of this came from the right combination of players. Though La Cuna was produced and released by CTI—the leading fusion label of the '70s—Barretto made sure the band included veterans of the salsa scene, including bassist Francisco Centeno, percussionist Charlie Palmieri, and the titan of the timbales himself, Tito Puente. These players were complemented by CTI stalwarts like saxophonist Joe Farrell, drummer Steve Gadd, and synth man Jeremy Wall (of Spyro Gyra). The resulting songs blend the lush, cloaked aura of a CTI album with the propulsion of a great salsa band. The title song is one of Barretto’s best, a sleek streamlined rendition of a classic Cuban rhythm. With vocals by Willie Torres, the band’s version of Stevie Wonder’s “Pastime Paradise” adds street-corner flavor to the original. But the closer, “Cocinado,” is what steals the show; it achieves the near-impossible trick of being hushed and explosive at the same time.

TITLE TIME

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