News & Updates — Salsa

Ray Barretto / April 29, 1929 - Feb 17, 2006

Ray Barretto / April 29, 1929 - Feb 17, 2006

The great Nuyorican percussionist, bandleader and composer Ray Barretto (Mr Hard Hands) retains a huge legacy, greatly influencing many percussionists and Latino jazz artists, and standing as a towering figure in the landscape of salsa music. He was checking out the bebop scene in the late '40s and honing his chops before getting the tap to play with Charlie Parker. He then worked in Tito Puente's band for four years in the late '50s. In the '60s he was a first-call percussionist for sessions at various jazz labels (Blue Note, Prestige, Riverside, etc), as well as playing with Herbie Mann....

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Joe Cuba / Aoril 22, 1931 - Feb 15, 2009

Joe Cuba / Aoril 22, 1931 - Feb 15, 2009

Despite the working name of "Joe Cuba", the conguero Gilberto Calderon was actually a Nuyorican who grew up in Spanish Harlem. Since the first album in 1962 and into the '70s, the Joe Cuba Sextet were a very important and influential band on the newer generation of Latino musicians. With the two-tongued vocal duo of Cheo Feliciano (singing in Español) and Jimmy Sabater (singing in English) they scored a bunch of smash hits and helped fuel the boogaloo craze of the mid-'60s, fusing the soul music influence with Afro-Cuban rhythms. The group's albums contained burning hot descargas, jumping boogaloos and...

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Tito Puente / April 20, 1923 - June 1, 2000

Tito Puente / April 20, 1923 - June 1, 2000

Happy 4/20 birthday shout-out to the iconic Tito Puente! Best known as a Simpsons charact...haha just kidding! Among the Nuyorican musical greats, there has never been a dull moment with El Rey's brand of fiery and entertaining Latin jazz. His first notable pro gig was with Machito during WW2, before serving his own tour. After receiving medals as a "war hero" he started a nonet, The Piccadilly Boys, in '47. He led one of the great orchestras of the classic mambo era, often featuring percussion battles with Tito and top players on the scene. In 1960, his band was just...

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TWISTED: Nature Boy Special!

TWISTED: Nature Boy Special!

The original hippy, the mystical eden ahbez wrote a tune called "Nature Boy" and by chance was able to hand it to Nat King Cole who turned it into a mega-hit in 1948. He looked like a hippy long before it was a thing and lived outdoors in Los Angeles. He lived under the "L" of the Hollywood sign and held a job as a piano player in a raw foods store. He was a vegetarian, straight edge and an anti-vaxer and wore a white robe. This lifestyle inspired "Nature Boy", and after the hit by Cole, ahbez became an...

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Jimmy Sabater / April 11, 1936 - Feb 8, 2012

Jimmy Sabater / April 11, 1936 - Feb 8, 2012

Jimmy Sabater, the velvet-voiced Nuyorican singer & timbalista with the Joe Cuba Sextet, was the smooth English-tongued half of his lead vocal duo with Cheo Feliciano. Check out such great tunes as the smash hit "Bang, Bang", and "To Be With You" (a classic bolero, which Jimmy also cut a good disco version in '76). A native of El Barrio, he met Joe Cuba while playing stickball and the two joined Joe Panama's band. Eventually Joe Cuba took it over and transformed it into the popular Joe Cuba Sextette. They started making records in the late '50s but it was...

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