RAY BARRETTO’S INDESTRUCTIBLE RETURNS TO VINYL FOR 50TH ANNIVERSARY

Craft Latino announces a 50th-anniversary reissue of Indestructible, a defining title from legendary conguero and bandleader, Ray Barretto. The 1973 masterpiece, which cemented Barretto’s status as a salsa icon, features the classic title track, plus such highlights as “El Diablo” and “La Familia.” Set for release on December 15 and available for pre-order now, the long-out-of-print album has been newly remastered from its original tapes and pressed on 180-gram vinyl. A classic tip-on jacket, replicating the album’s original design, completes the package. Additionally, Indestructible will make its debut in 192/24 hi-res digital audio.

 

In 1973, Ray Barretto (1929-2006) was at a crossroads in his career. For more than a decade, the Brooklyn-born, Puerto Rican musician had enjoyed his status as one of the foremost names in Latin jazz and Afro-Cuban rhythms. He had become the go-to conguero in New York City, playing alongside such jazz greats as Wes Montgomery, Cal Tjader, Kenny Burrell, and Dizzy Gillespie. As a bandleader, Barretto achieved stardom with his 1963 hit, “El Watusi,” while he became a foundational figure in the soulful boogaloo movement. Before long, he was at the forefront of the emerging salsa scene. Playing alongside him for much of this period was The Ray Barretto Orchestra, which featured vocalist Adalberto Santiago, timbalero Orestes Vilato, and bongosero Johnny Rodríguez, among others. But after five years and eight albums together (including 1968’s Acid, 1971’s The Message, and 1972’s Que Viva la Música), Barretto’s band left him to form Típica 73. The highly publicized split was a massive blow to the artist, creatively and personally.

 

Despite the setback, Barretto pushed forward, enlisting a talented line-up of industry veterans, including trumpeters Roberto Rodriguez, and Joseph “Papy” Roman, drummer “Little” Ray Romero, bongosero Tony Fuentes, and pianist Edy Martinez. Initially, Barretto returned to his jazz roots, releasing the critically-acclaimed album, The Other Road. But, as one of salsa’s biggest stars, the artist also recognized the importance of reclaiming his place in the popular scene. And so, he returned to the studio, working on a new collection of songs and further augmenting his band, adding flutist Artie Webb, bassist Julio Romero, singer/bassist Tito Allen, and a third trumpeter, Manny Duran. What Barretto and his band cooked up was a statement of resilience.

 

Released in 1973, the aptly-titled Indestructible boldly announced Barretto’s return to salsa. The album’s jacket was emblazoned with an iconic shot of the musician revealing a Superman costume under his shirt (another eye-catching design by Fania art director, Izzy Sanabria). Barretto’s real superpowers, however, were evident as soon as the needle touched the LP. Once again, he had reinvented the genre, with innovative instrumentation (his use of three trumpets and a flute was a first in salsa), intricate rhythm changes, and plenty of tightly-knit improvisations. 

 

Indestructible opens with a dynamic rendition of Tite Curet Alonso’s “El Hijo de Obatala.” Paying homage to the Yoruba deity in Santeria/Ifá, the energetic track keep listeners on their toes with rapidly fluctuating tempos. In liner notes for an earlier edition of the album, percussionist and radio host Bobby Sanabria spoke to Barretto’s impressive solo in the song, praising it as “a remarkable work of virtuosity, exploding with an opening continuous roll that lasts a full 17 bars with accents and open tones thrown in at surprising moments. He had finally developed his own style.”

 

Another spectacular performance is of José Curbello’s “La Familia,” which features backing vocals by two salsa legends: Panamanian singer Meñique and Hector “El Cantante” Lavoe, who was on the verge of breaking out as a major star at the time. The Roberto Rodriguez-penned guapachá “La Orquesta,” meanwhile, pays tribute to Barretto and includes several playful instrumentals. That sense of friskiness also carries over to “Llanto de Cocodrilo,” where Allen delivers his lyrics with a heavy dose of sarcasm.

 

The album climaxes with the jubilant title track. “Indestructible,” Sanabria wrote, “sums up the theme of this album – con sangre nueva, with new blood….[the] driving, in-your-face up-tempo guaracha that was Barretto’s answer to the heartbreak of his previous band quitting.” Ray Romero shines particularly bright on this track, which features a renowned 44-bar timbale solo. The song, meanwhile, would become a career-defining song for Barretto.

 

Praised by AllMusic as “A true find in Barretto's vast catalog,” Indestructible not only reinforced Barretto’s star power, but also his versatile talents as a songwriter, bandleader, and producer. Following the release of the best-selling title, Barretto’s career continued to thrive, as the musician split his passions between jazz, salsa, and, often, somewhere in between. The conguero also stayed busy as the musical director of the legendary Fania All Stars, while he remained a sought-after percussionist, who played alongside acts like Bee Gees, the Rolling Stones, and Crosby, Stills & Nash.

 

Barretto continued to innovate and inspire throughout the rest of his life, remaining active until his death in 2006. During his five-decade-long career, the prolific bandleader released more than 50 albums, including nine with his celebrated group, New World Spirit. Among many honors, the GRAMMY®-winning artist was inducted into the International Latin Music Hall of Fame in 1999, while in his final year, he received the prestigious Jazz Masters Award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

 

 

 

Indestructible track list (Vinyl)

Side A

  1. El Hijo de Obatalá
  2. El Diablo
  3. Yo Tengo un Amor
  4. La Familia

 

Side B

  1. La Orquesta
  2. Llanto de Cocodrilo
  3. Ay No
  4. Indestructible

  

Indestructible tracklist (hi-res digital)

  1. El Hijo de Obatalá
  2. El Diablo
  3. Yo Tengo un Amor
  4. La Familia
  5. La Orquesta
  6. Llanto de Cocodrilo
  7. Ay No
  8. Indestructible

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