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    Celia, Johnny, Justo & Papo - Recordando El Ayer

    By: El Caobo
    Mar 30, 2007

    Artist: Celia, Johnny, Justo & Papo
    (Celia Cruz, Johnny Pacheco, Justo Betancourt and Papo Lucca!)
    Album: Recordando El Ayer
    Genre: salsa
    Label: Fania / UMGD
    Originally Released: 1976
    Remastered: 2007

    What a gem of a recording! After listening to the CD for the 4th time, I found that there is simply not a song on the entire album that I did not enjoy. So, "which shall I review," I asked myself as I sat to write the article. "Ritmo, Tambor y Flores" was playing on the CD player of my computer, when Papo Lucca's piano solo began. It was then that I decided to write about "Ritmo, Tambor y Flores."

    I restarted the track and the rhythmic introductory trumpets of Luis "Perico" Ortiz and Héctor "Bomberito" Zarzuela established the rhythm of the song from the outset and made it clear that this is a track for the dancer. Then, Celia's unmistakable voice announces that she's regando flores (watering flowers). Shortly thereafter, the melodious and harmonious voices of La Reina Celia Cruz and Justo Betancourt sing the first verse of the song and establish its message of making miracles of love and smiles for the soul. This is a song about happiness... about enjoying life... about grooving to a wonderful salsa beat!

    As asserted by Ernesto Lechner, who wrote the liner notes to the remastered CD, some of the tracks in Recordando El Ayer were hits with the original La Matancera. "Ritmo, Tambor y Flores" was one of them, having been recorded during Celia's happiest and most fulfilling moments with La Matancera.

    One of the principal features that make this song such a wonderful dance floor driver is Papo Lucca's piano solo. It is during this part of the song that I envision the dancers' shoulder roll, the vaivén (swing) of their hips, the elegant improvisational styling of their footwork and a transfixed expression that communicates their place in dance heaven!

    Also contributing to the popular success of this song was the futuristic and visionary drive of band leader Johnny Pacheco. Although he added contemporary nuances to the all the songs of this musical masterpiece, he successfully maintained the prominent vaivén of the '50s.

    As I said from the outset, there is simply not a song on the entire album that I did not enjoy. My other favorites on this CD are: "Besito de Coco," "Sé Que Tú," "Vamos a Guarachar," "La Equivocada," and "Ahora Sí."

    Yes indeed Salseros, this is one you cannot do without!

    Johnny Pacheco: Leader, Flute, Guiro, Percussion
    Celia Cruz, Justo Betancourt: Lead Vocals
    Papo Lucca: Piano
    Luis Mangual: Bongos, Cowbell, Timbalitos (Paila), solo ("Reina Rumba")
    Johnny "Dandy" Rodríguez: Congas
    Luis "Perico" Ortiz: Trumpet
    Héctor "Bomberito" Zarzuela: Trumpet
    Charlie Rodríguez: Tres
    Harry Viggiano: Tres
    Víctor Venegas: Bass
    Eddie "Guagua" Rivera: Bass
    Ismael Quintana: Maracas


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