Fania Newsletter – September 2007

September Newsletter 2007


Cool news and hot happenings for all the FANIA lovers out there!

What’s Hot For September!

Last month’s Héctor Lavoe career retrospective – Man and His Music-La Voz became a resounding success—topping the Latin charts and connecting a new generation of Fania fans to the rich legacy of the legendary “King of Salsa.”

Now it’s time for our “Queen of Salsa,” the one and only—Celia Cruz. The new compilation, A Lady and Her Music-Azúcar!. features 30 tracks by one of the most influential singers in the history of Latin music.

The incomparable Celia dominated the glamorous Havana cabaret era of the 1950’s, she then went on to record a series of classics albums with the legendary bandleader Tito Puente in New York City. During the seventies Celia reinvented herself as the “Queen of Salsa” when she signed to Fania Records.

Her work in albums such as Larry Harlow’s Hommy, and Willie Colón’s Only They Could Have Made This Album are gems of the hard-boiled NYC salsa experience and now, for the first time, all the greatest songs that made Celia Cruz a legend are packaged in a digitally re-mastered collection for the ages.

We move and shake along to Celia’s Azúcar and forward into the present with the Fania Live DJ Series. This time around the world-renowned DJ Le Spam (a.k.a. Andrew Yeomanson) takes over the wheels of steel for a rousing journey of the groove-laden Fania vaults. The new mix takes an alternative route, exploring 16 of the lesser-known treasures of the Fania catalog.

For Le Spam the Fania Live 02-DJ Le Spam represented a rare opportunity to bolster his love for the Fania sound. “I collect funk 45’s, all kinds of Latin music, classic Jamaican sounds, jazz of all types, blues, gospel, hip hop, electro bass….The thing I tend to pay most attention to in our music (and to an extent in others) is the groove, said DJ LeSpam to Fania. “It’s really an honor for me to go into the Fania catalogue of music, and select from these tracks. I could have done five CDs. In the end, I went straight for those songs that found their way into my stuff over the years.”

History of Fania

Celia Cruz signs With Fania and Becomes the Queen Of Salsa!

In 1965 after leaving the legendary afro-Cuban orchestra the Sonora Matancera, the vivacious Celia Cruz sought to reinvent her career. After working with Tito Puente in a series of now-classic recordings, Celia became involved in the Fania salsa version of the rock opera Tommy (by the British act The Who.)

Conceived by Fania co-founder Johnny Pacheco and the great pianist Larry Harlow, the salsa version of Tommy—named Hommy—adapted the celebrated rock opera into an out salsa extravaganza. As for Celia, her participation in the song “Gracia Divina” (Divine Grace) marked her full baptism into the salsa whirlwind of New York City. As the new female voice for Fania, Celia made debut at the prestigious Carnegie Hall on March 29th 1973.

The rest as they say is history, and Celia immersed herself with the sounds of the Fania family. Albums such as 1974’s Celia y Johnny produced classic hits such as “Químbara,” “Toro Mata,” and “Lo Tuyo es Mental.” By the end of the seventies, Celia star status was more than assured and she was touring the world with the Fania All Stars.

Featured Artists

Larry Harlow

Fania was always a multicultural label—giving the best artists from around the world a chance to collaborate under one roof. After Johnny Pacheco, Fania’s co-founder, the second artist signed to the label was the American-Jewish pianist known as Larry Harlow.

Stylish, talented and spirited, the Brooklyn born Harlow always had a deep love for the afro-Cuban sounds of the old Havana. With that mind, Fania co-founder Jerry Massuci gave Harlow a golden chance, and in 1966 the album Heavy Smoking was released to great fanfare form the New York City public.

A lover of Jazz, Harlow was not afraid to mix that old Cuban music with the new sounds of New York City—and thus the mix that today we call salsa was conceived. It was because of the successes of the seminal Heavy Smoking that Fania was able to recruit other newcomers such as Ray Barretto and Willie Colón.

Featured Review

Ray Barretto: Rhythm of Life

Barretto was arguably the world greatest conga player. His talent knew no bounds: from salsa to Latin jazz, to R&B and even rock & roll—Ray Barretto’s hard hands gave rhythm to many of the great classics in the Fania catalog.

His music has been sampled by hip-hop artists, appeared in films and commercials and continues influence modern artists such as Miami’s famed DJ Le Spam. The album Rhythm of Life finds Barretto still deep into his salsa but also showing off his Jazz credentials.

Stand out tracks like the immortal “Manos Duras” showcase his dexterity as a conga player. Yet “Amor Artificial” (Artificial Love) demonstrates that Ray was always interested in moving the genre forward—this time with romantic salsa tune. As always, Barretto urged Latinos to be proud of their roots and the Puerto Rico tribute of “Mi Dedicacion” (Mi Dedication) shows us where his heart was at the time.

A fantastic mix of pure salsa with multipart splashes of Jazz, this album is a perfect place to discover the genius of the great Ray Barretto.

New Releases From Fania:

A Lady And Her Music – Celia Cruz

Christian Salsa – Various

The Original Gangster – Willie Colon

Sugar Daddy – Eddie Palmieri’s La Perfecta Orchestra

La Herencia – Tito Rodriguez

La Herencia – Papo Lucca

Latin Soul Man – Ray Barretto

Lo Que Pide La Gente – Fania All Stars

La Herencia – Cheo Feliciano

La Herencia – Richie Ray/Bobby Cruz

Fania Live 02:Miami/DJ LeSpam – Various

La Parranda Fania – Various

Rumbon Navideno – Various

Leyendas De La Fania Vol. 5 – Various

Azucar – Celia Cruz

Greatest Hits – Hector Lavoe

Greatest Hits – Ray Barretto

Asalto Navideno – Deluxe Edition – Willie Colon & Hector Lavoe

Sabu’s Jazz Espagnole – Sabu Martinez

Gato/Bahia – Gato Barbieri


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