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Ray Barretto

(4.29.29 – 2.17.06)

Ray Barretto

Ray was the quintessential Nuyorican. When I use that term with people who aren’t from NYC, they usually look at me with the same look I’m sure Albert Einstein got when he tried to explain black holes for the first time. Those who do get it invariably just nod their head with the same approval that a cognoscenti of the jazz tradition gives after hearing a good solo. It means they’re hip, and Ray was the epitome of hipness. How could he not be? He was a Native Nuyorican!

Ray was born in Brooklyn, moved to El Barrio (NYC’s Puerto Rican and Cuban enclave in Manhattan) and then became a resident of the borough that nurtured him, Da Bronx. This much maligned yet proud borough has an incredible history of giving birth to and/or nurturing so many artists, poets, playwrights, painters, scientists, politicians, film directors, producers and musicians that somebody should do a scientific study of the air there. It has a Walk of Fame on its own Grand Concourse that was modeled after the Champs-Élysées in Paris. There, on one of the streets of the Concourse, you will find the name Ray Barretto standing tall in all its glory.

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Originally Published