Fajardo Y Sus Estrellas: El Burro Boogaloo
Descarga de Kiki
From Fajardo’s Boogaloo (Kubaney, 1967/8)
Joe Quijano: El Loco
No Me Digas Na’
From The Party Album (Cesta, 1967/8)
Ray Terrace: Manteca
From Home of Boogaloo (Tower, 1968)
Boogaloo’s popularity compelled many artists to record boogaloo albums even if they weren’t born n’ bred for the style (which is to say, younger, Nuyorican, doo-wop raised, and non-Latin music purists). In some cases, that resulted in some truly awful boogaloo albums that were little better than exploitationist efforts to capitalize on the craze. However, in other cases, some very good Latin artists made some very good albums during the boogaloo era that weren’t necessarily outstanding for their boogaloos…but still featured some worthwhile material despite that.
For example, when my man JB, aka Reynaldo, told me that this was amongst his favorite boogaloo albums, I was intrigued since I had never heard much about Fajardo and I had been curious about what else was on Kubaney besides Johnny Ventura. I don’t know if I’d similarly rank this as one of the best boogaloo albums out there but it is a great Latin album, regardless of the boogaloos themselves. For example, the album’s big stand out is “Descarga de KikI,” which is only two minutes long (too short!) but absolutely cooks during that time. This isn’t to say the album is bad for boogaloos – not at all – though the use of flute (very charanga-like) can be an acquired taste. Personally, of the five boogaloos on here, my favorite was “El Burro Boogaloo,” mostly for its slow groove and good use of back-up singing. The LP also gets bonus points for its backing band: Eddie Palmieri’s La Perfecta Band, no doubt holding their nose at having to record boogaloos (yet doing a decent job, at that!).
Joe Quijano’s The Party Album does have one really stellar boogaloo – “El Loco” – which may not be quite as awesome as his previous “Fun City Shing-a-Ling” but it’s close enough. However, the rest of the album’s Latin soul offerings aren’t all that notable and instead, it’s once again a descarga, “No Me Digas Na'” that ends up being another reason to seek this LP out.1
It’s a bit ironic that for an album named “Home of boogaloo,” this actually is a rather tepid boogaloo album. Vocalist Willie Torres doesn’t make a great vocal impact and as skilled an arranger as Marty Sheller was, you really doesn’t get the sense that Latin soul was his bag. Same goes for Terrace; his Cuchi Frito Man LP is a heavy collector grail but it’s not a Latin soul album so much as a swinging Latin jazz album. That’s where Home of Boogaloo shines as well (but I guess “Home of Latin Jazz” doesn’t quite have the same panache. Straight up, the reason you seek this album out is for one reason and one really great reason: “Manteca.” Terrace’s version is one of the best I’ve heard of this Latin jazz standard. From a dancefloor point of view, it’s pretty much the best I’ve ever heard outside of Dizzy’s ’70s recording of it.2