North America / Puerto Rico
Bella Martínez “Salsa has always been important to the writer”
Bella Martínez is an author born in Puerto Rico, who defines herself as a funny but complicated person, like life itself. But she has always carried in her veins her passion for salsa, and music that makes her dance and express herself, which is not surprising as she is from this caribbean island. What was not expected of her was that she would present us with a book about the memories of a great percussionist like Jimmie Morales, who is one of her great friends.
Apparently the idea of making this book belonged to Bella herself, who once told Jimmie to tell her what he considered important in his life, for her to write his memoirs. Despite Bella’s great love for salsa, it is rare to see instrumentalists being the star in productions or projects, but here the Puerto Rican author dared to tell the life and professional career of whom is considered one of the best percussionists of the genre, that has belonged to great bands and has accompanied great names.
Just as it’s stated in the book’s sinopsis:
“When all the congueros imitated the king of heavy hands, Ray Barreto, Jimmie managed -without intending to- be the one chosen by maestro Willie Rosario to accompany the afinque that Rosario had already established with the conga … Jimmie paid the luck that accompanied him at that crucial moment with an immense dose of vocation. And that stroke of luck in the leather failed to erase the humility of his being.”
That is why this book has become of vital importance for all those followers of salsa or merengue, genres that despite their importance for Latin music no longer have so many representatives in the new generations, and are being eclipsed by the new trends in the urban genre. It is the big names who continue to leave their mark and write the history of tropical music.
Bella Martínez: Who is Jimmie Morales?
Jimmie Morales is considered one of the most influential percussionists and conga players of the genre in the last 30 years. Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut from Puerto Rican parents, Jimmie grew up with the influence of American music but in 1967 his parents returned to the island which led Morales to encounter the popular music of the Caribbean: salsa.
It was his father who gave him the first conga drum, which fascinated him from the first moment he had it and this fascination was his impulse to pursue his studies of it. This also allowed him to learn more about Cuban, Puerto Rican and New York salsa, along with the great congueros, including what would be his favorite: Ray Barreto. At the time he began to participate in bands on the island and accompanied Tito Allen.
But it was not until 1978 when his great moment arrived, when he was part of the band of the renowned Willie Rosario, in which he was for 8 years and that formed him in the professional part of music, not only with conga but in the production and recording of the different projects. This band led him to build a solid career as a studio musician, participating in the productions of artists such as: Oscar D’León, Lalo Rodríguez, Eddie Santiago and Frankie Ruiz.
In 1986 he decided to follow the young Gilberto Santa Rosa, whom he met in Willie’s band, and who would become one of the most prolific salsa soloists of the last 25 years. This stage was the launch of a successful career that would lead him to perform on different continents and share the stage with artists such as: Willie Colón, Ismael Miranda, Tito Nieves, Juan Luis Guerra, Grupo Niche and Jerry Rivera. If you want to know more about Jimmie, just open the book “Las memorias de Jimmie Morales: un conguero para la historia” and look at his anecdotes.