Que Es El Bonche?

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Cortijo Y Su Bonche : Sorongo & Tiempo De Amor
taken from the album
“Sorongo” on TICO (1968)

Cortijo Y Su Bonche : Agua Que Va A Caer & Ublabadu
taken from the album
“Ahi Na Ma! Put It There!” on TICO (196?)

Cortijo Y Su Bonche : Pa’ Los Caserios & Pa Guayama
taken from the album
“Pa’ Los Caserios” on Actuality (197?)

Sorry for lack of posts. Between the 102 degree fever that had me stuck in bed and doing several shows last week (being groggy on stage is where it’s at), I was short on quality record listening time.

Rafael Cortijo is a legendary figure in Puerto Rican music, being one of the first to bring the Bomba and Plena rhythms out of the slums and into the ears of the vast record buying public – in PR and elsewhere. He’s perhaps most famous for his early recordings with vocalist Ismael Rivera and his later more straight ahead salsa records, but for a brief stint while Rivera was in jail on drug charges, Cortijo put together this highly original group “El Bonche”. Before “salsa” was a widely recognized term (or musical concept), Cortijo used El Bonche to mix various Latin styles in new ways. Little bit of boogaloo, little bit of bomba, whole lot of descarga. These are the only three records I’ve seen with “El Bonche”, and they lead the way up to Cortijo’s one-of-a-kind foray into funk which was captured on 1974’s “Maquina Del Tiempo” LP (also highly recommended). While these songs lack the wah-wah and fuzz guitar prevalent on that album, they make up for it with their highly danceable swing and playful, catchy hooks (see: “Ublabadu”). You can credit Cortijo’s daughter, Fe, with the uncommon addition of female vocals – not sure why more Latin groups didn’t do this at the time, it sounds pretty cool on cuts like “Tiempo De Amor” and “Pa’ Los Caserios”.

The man’s output was such that I could easily do several more posts covering different periods of his carreer and have no difficulty coming up with hot tracks, but for now at least, that’s all you get.