Ray Barretto Essentials

Ray Barretto Essentials

While the ubiquitous Nuyorican conga player Ray Barretto brought the power and subtlety of Latin percussion to jazz, it was the stripped-down boogaloo dance hit "El Watusi" that launched his career as a bandleader. Tracks like the horns- and percussion-driven "Mercy Baby," from Acid, his 1967 Fania debut, etched a template for several deeply funky recordings. He returned to Fania in 1979 with Rican/Struction, whose progressive salsa sound was rooted in African rhythms. A later duet with Celia Cruz, "Ritmo en el Corazón," displays two Latin elders in mature rhythmic sympathy.

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