Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Ray Barretto and New World Spirit plus 4: Portraits in Jazz and Clave

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

Back in the day when Mario Bauz, Chico O’Farrill and Dizzy were striving to link up Afro Cuban son ‘n’ clave with Afro American swing and bop, they built their bridges on the backs of ex-Havana conguero masters like Chano Pozo and Mongo Santamaria. As the ’50s waned, the Latin jazz vanguard was led by Nuyorican timbalero Tito Puente and his conguero homeboy Ray Barretto. Well-schooled in Cuban guaguanco, Puerto Rican bomba/plena, veteran of bop jam sessions at Mintons, Barretto was the right cat at the right time.

First kicking off the Latin boogaloo craze with the 1963 R&B crossover smash “El Watusi,” by the end of the ’80s Barretto’s groundbreaking solo (Acid), Fania All-Stars and pop (Rolling Stones) recordings made him the most ubiquitous conguero of all. Since the early ’90s, the various editions of his New World Spirit ensemble have consistently dropped some of the deepest Latin jazz music on the planet.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.