On May 30, 1995, Carlos “Tabaco” Quintana died in Caracas, Venezuela, the city where he was born on September 15, 1943.
Charismatic Timbalero, Sonero and Director of “Sexteto Juventud” and “Tabaco y sus Metales” the legend of Salsa made in Venezuela”
Former member of “Sexteto Juventud”, founder of the orchestra “Tabaco y sus Metales”. He was born on September 15, 1943 and began his musical training in the corners of San José.
Youth took him hand in hand with the street salsa brava, the rebellion of Palmieri and Mon Rivera’s trombones and the castinglés sound of Joe Cuba’s sextet.
And it was so long that they began to call him “tabaquito”, a tabaquito who waited for the day to be over to find the musical flavor far from the chore of shoeshine boy and town crier.
He never forgot that he used to go out to 23 de Enero to listen to the rehearsals of a group that was being formed there.
Years went by and rehearsals went by while Tabaquito got to know one by one the members of that group until 1963, when he was twenty years old, his friend Elio Pacheco recommended him to Olinto Medina, the leader of that band.
Olinto was about to rehearse “Guasancó” and the singer was not in tune with him.
Elio’s recommendation took effect and “Tabaco” did its thing, very well. Thus the Sexteto Juventud had a new voice and something more, because Carlos Quintana was able to walk through all the instruments of the group.
He had an almost magical vocal timbre. His voice was astonishingly similar to Ismael Rivera’s and we already know what that meant at a time when Maelo was the obligatory reference from the ranks of Rafael Cortijo’s Combo.
With Quintana the Sexteto Juventud had moments of true glory because although it reflected the influence of Joe Cuba they created a style that continues without copy.
In addition to his vocal art, Tabaco was a good composer, with a good vibe and reciprocity in the town. Every September he would go to play for the prisoners, on the day of Las Mercedes. He felt what a captive felt and that is why he composed “La Cárcel” (Qué malo es estar/ estar entre rejas/ y qué soledad/ qué soledad se siente).
Along with this song he released “Mi Calvario”, a piece that became a classic.
(Quisiera saber/ cuál fue la causa/ de nuestro olvido.And so, between recordings and toques, Tabaco, in the Sexteto Juventud, saw the arrival of José Natividad Martínez, Naty, the flutist and friend. Naty sold the idea of the brass to Quintana and Quintana, buying, suddenly came up with “Tabaco y sus metales” and recorded Pablo Alvarez’s “Una sola bandera” which was a smash hit, “Agua de mayo” and his tribute to the rumberos, “Tuntuneco”.
In May 1984 we published a very rich interview with Tabaco in El Nacional’s Feriado. Almost immediately they called to locate him. He was invited to the Managua 84 festival. It was the first time he left the country by air.
He performed for 30,000 people with Son 14, Amaury Pérez, Pupi Legarreta and Tania Libertad, among others. On his return he told me that the Cubans were astonished because they thought that in Venezuela there was only Oscar D’ León, and that he almost fainted when Daniel Ortega approached him to ask for an autograph, and that he touched the sky when Adalberto Álvarez and Son 14 went up on stage with him to sing “Una sola bandera”.
His dreams: He had two: To record an album as a tribute to Ismael Rivera, and to make another one with boleros. Once in Macuto he sang with Ismael Rivera and for both of them it was a tremendous experience. In Guarenas, the musical and brave, specifically in “Menca de Leoni” was cooking the dream.
With Naty’s help, he began to record Maelo’s on an album that the Sonográfica label did not take care of releasing afterwards. He could not finish it because cancer took him to the hospital where Joe Ruiz was also hospitalized.
That album was vocally completed by Ángel Flores. He, who admired Cheo Feliciano and Tito Rodríguez so much, could not make the bolero album either.
Naty says that in more than one night he managed to get Tabaco out of the hospital to advance the tribute album to Maelo. She knew that Tabaco wanted to do it, and pleased the friend, who also, looking for spiritual relief to his physical pain, went to Los Teques, where he was surprised by death on May 30, 1995.
“Tabaco” Chronology of his musical life 1.943 Carlos Quintana was born on September 15 in the San José neighborhood of Caracas, Venezuela.
1.955 as a child he worked as a shoeshine boy and began to be interested in music.
1.959 in his adolescence he attended the rehearsals of a musical group in the 23 de enero neighborhood of Caracas, because of his skinny body and stature they began to call him Tabaco.
1.962 on May 13 was founded the group called Conjunto Rítmico Juventud, which eventually gave rise to the Sexteto Juventud, composed of Olinto Medina as director and bassist, Elio Pacheco on the Tumbadora, Carlos Croquer on drums, Arturo Lopez singer, Juan Medina on guitar and Isaias on bongo.
1.963 musician Elio Pacheco introduces Olinto Medina leader of the group to his friend Carlos Quintana.
1.967 “Tabaco” joins the group and in a short time he becomes the vocalist of the group in his first recording titled “Guasanco”, a 45 rpm single whose reverse side was titled “Cautivo”, this happened on February 22nd of that year.
Besides having a voice similar to that of Ismael Rivera, Carlos Quintana performed well on the bongo and other instruments.
On June 11, 1967, the first album of Sexteto Juventud was released, entitled “Guasanco”, it was recorded for the Velvet label and the name of the album was due to the success of its first single “Guasanco”, other songs on the album were “La Jibarita”, “Bógalo” and “Consejos de mamá”.
The same year 1967, this time on September 24th, their second album is announced: “Mas Guasanco”.
A new production of the sextet is called “A bailar juventud”, which contains the songs “Guasanco número 3”, “Hermanos con salsa”, “Soy el Bravo” and “Guajira Sentimental”.
The Sexteto releases the album “Mala” for the same Velvet label, where the numbers “Capricho antillano”, “La calle 10”, and “El Nuevo Guasanco” were recorded.
Two new records that were pressed for Velvet are: “Sabroso tumbao” and a work with the voices of Carlos Quintana and Oscar Mijares who was nicknamed “El chino” titled “La juventud se impone” for the Velvet label, in which they developed rites such as: Guaguancó, Jala jala, Guajira, Guaracha and Mozambique with hits such as “La cárcel” and “Jala jala Navideño” in the voices of Carlos Quintana and Oscar Mijares.
1.971 a new Sexteto album was released, entitled “La magia del sexteto”, which included songs such as: “Con todas las banderas”, “Sandra Mora” which would later be recorded by Naty y su Orquesta, “Caramelo y Chocolate” and “Virgen de los cuatro vientos”.
Also in this year they recorded an album called “A todo ritmo” in which they included “Caramelo Tumbao”, “De nuevo Borinquen” and “Comand Bógalo”, they were awarded a gold record by the Velvet music label.
1.974 On April 22nd without “Tabaco” in their ranks, Sexteto Juventud recorded an LP that we have to mention for its success at the Salsa level, the album was called “Lo espiritual del Sexteto Juventud” with rhythms like “Guaguanco”, “Guaracha”, “Bolero”, “Danzon” and “Guajira” and we highlight the numbers “Espiritualmente”, “Vestida de Blanco” and the homage to the Boricua land with the theme “A Puerto Rico”.
1.975 following the suggestion of his friend and musician the Venezuelan flutist Natividad Martinez, Carlos Quintana creates his own group “Tabaco” and his Sextet. Their first song was called “Una sola bandera” and was very well received by the public.
Also in 1969 he recorded the spectacular album titled “Agúzate”, for Tico Records, with classic songs such as: “Aguzate”, Amparo Arrebato”, in homage to a dancer from Cali, Colombia, “Vive feliz”, “Guaguancó Raro”; “Traigo de Todo” and the bolero “A mi manera”.
Carlos Quintana recorded the album titled “El Sabor de Tabaco” in the Colors studios in Caracas, the album contains songs such as “Maria lienza”, “Pegao”, “Ofrenda” and Yabirongo”.
1.975 records the albums “Tronco e’ baile Tabaco y su Sexteto” for TH records in which appear the themes “Pobre”, “Mata Ciguaraya” by Benny More and the hit “La Libertad”, in which he makes mention of the greats like Benny More, Celia Cruz and Ismael Rivera, half of the themes of the album are authored by Gabriel Carrasco and the other record production of 1. 975 was called “Tabaco y su Sexteto: Mi pueblo – Mi burrita – Nostalgia”, for the Top Hits label, with the production of Tony Montserrat and which has the themes “El Vals de Papa”, the Tango “Nostalgia” and a very salsa number titled “Ponte en Ritmo”.
1.976 his musical work is titled “Tabaco y su Sexteto” with the arrangements, production and direction of Victor Gutierrez, the record was made in Venezuela by La Discoteca CA. And contains a number of authorship of “Tabaco” entitled “Mi Celda”, and other songs like “Amor amor” and “Prefiero mí son montuno”.
1.978 Carlos Quintana changes the name of his group to “Tabaco y sus Metales” and with that title they record for the Top Hits label in the Intersonido CA studios, the album includes songs like “Tristeza y pena”; “Celda de castigo” and “Sinceridad”; both by Carlos Quintana. The orchestra was formed by Pedro Landaeta on Piano, Hector Pacheco on Bass, Pablo Álvarez on Conga, Carlos Quintana Bongo and Percussion, Gabriel Carrasco on Tres, Trumpets by “Pollo” Fuentes and Luís Arias, Natividad Martínez on Flute, Carlos Quintana Singer and the choirs of Gabriel Carrasco, Dimas Pedroza, Álvaro Serrano, Carlos Quintana and Víctor Gutiérrez.
1.979 Tabaco y sus metales publishes a new album under the title “Ni poco ni demasiado” also for the TH label with a number of the same name and other songs such as the big hit “Arrollando”, a version of the song “Todo de los metales”, a version of the song “Todo de los metales”, and a version of the song “Todo de los metales”. a version of the song “Todo el mundo escucha” by Bienvenido Granda and also a number by Markolino Dimond titled “Maraquero”.
With the production, arrangements and direction of Victor Gutierrez, the recording was made at Intersonido CA in Caracas.
1.980 the musical work of this year was titled “Advertencia”, this work was made in Puerto Rico under TH license, it is a sample of what at that time “Tabaco” meant in Salsa, in this recording participated musicians like Luís Quevedo in the Piano, Polo Huertas in the Bass, Papo Pepín in the Conga and Yayo el Indio and Carlos Santos in the choirs.
The musical direction and arrangements were in charge of Ray Santos. Among the songs on the album are “Agua de mayo” by Pablo Álvarez, “Que ironía” by Carlos Quintana and “Alegría” by Naty Martínez. Regarding this work, Rafael Rivas, Disc Jockey of Radio Aeropuerto, wrote: “Latin music in Venezuela has had several variants, some aimed at fulfilling a certain time, others evidencing the spirit and reality, the daily life with success; precisely to this current or trend belongs Tabaco.
The commitment to sing what he carries inside, to expose with his natural style the things he feels, even his motivations, leads us to reflect on the figure of Tabaco.
It is he, and no other, in our country, who has dedicated himself to present with passion what he suffers, what he sees, what he truly feels.
Tabaco says, his naturalness allows that balance between what he sings and lives, he seems to conjugate, and perhaps that is the truth, to take for himself, what we have logically lived.
Tabaco’s life is here, and we respect his criteria: without a tenacious diffusion Tabaco has managed to sell, to surpass the best; and there is a reason for it: Tabaco has the strength.
He is interested in singing, in carrying a message, and in his own way he has exposed it with sense, with full authenticity.
Tabaco commented to me one afternoon at the Airport: “Tigre, I believe that the important thing is to define ourselves, to express our reality and denounce at the same time: that is why Rafael believes in you, because you are the message, the truth of our movement”.
Tabaco was referring to the content of the songs; he believes in the possibilities of music, in its magic to undertake behaviors and to present the rage, love and passion of our spirit.
Later Tabaco pointed out to me: “What is indispensable is to sing, the way things are felt, the way the people communicate, that is why I make Salsa”.
And that is why Tabaco has a name, a special public, that has known how to understand him, because he has reached us, with sense and commitment. He is the voice of the people aimed at interpreting their process, their experiences, their daily work. Therein lies the reason for his inspiration, the context of his themes.
When he inspires, he shows his capacity to value, his speech evidences his thoughts, his aspirations, and also his repudiation. He hides nothing and what emotion we feel, when he unloads on the timbales, when his voice rises and blends with the rhythm, telling truths, encouraging the spirit, if I understand the dancer, generating relief to the heart, living the cadences, demonstrating his skills as a sonero. He created his own style, and this has consecrated him.
Now we have the new Tabaco, with more maturity, and the experience of the arranger who at this time has a special prestige: Ray Santos.
Ray’s commitment went beyond what we originally thought; Tabaco was a challenge for Ray; he had Santos in front of a marvel, as he described him, the people turned to the figure of Tabaco, who felt he had the best time to undertake the melody.
Ray prepared the arrangements with a concentration that he had never achieved before, he understood the commitment, and Tabaco knew how to respond to the requirements.
Ray confessed that Tabaco is gifted with possibilities, so his work demanded the maximum. For the first time, Tabaco appears with a superband, with a different orchestration, and it was necessary to do it, the time demanded it, his voice has the right to sound to the four winds, it is time that our best (Tabaco) interprets reaches the Caribbean, with height.
Tigres y tigressa, with this LP we will have special music; its quality, its conception, will lead us to take it into account, not only for our rumbas but to enjoy it all our lives.
The producers knew perfectly well the intention of recording with Ray Santos, they knew that Tabaco would keep to his style, without any change or twist that could deviate his personality as an interpreter; what they were basically looking for was perfection in the orchestration, that magic touch that would allow him greater expressive freedom; that is the reason for recording in Puerto Rico.
The best thing that could have happened to Tabaco this year was to meet Ray Santos, and for us, that unity represents the most audacious and wonderful thing that has been done so far. I believe, despite the express prohibition to advertise cigarettes, that this Tabaco is the purest, most inimitable in its Venezuelan flavor, and most authentic of the Caribbean. What are you waiting for? Light it up now! Tabaco y sus metales 1.981 was his next production for Top Hits records, with arrangements by Jorge Millet and Natividad Martínez, in which the songs “Si la envidia fuera Tiña” by Jorge Millet and Carlos Quintana: “Mi Celda” and “A Millet” were recorded.
In 1982 he recorded an album called “Cosa Linda”. The themes of the album are: “Cosa linda”, “Tremendo guaguancó”, “Fiebre de ti”, “El callo”, “De mi rancho a tu casa”, “El cafetero”, “Camarera de amor”, “Consejo a las mujeres”.
(H3) 1.983 Produces the album “Homenaje a los bravos”, also for TH records, which includes “Baranda” by Justi Barreto, “El Timbalito” by Tito Puente and “La Culebra” by Obdulio Morales.
1.984 in this opportunity the album was called “El Timbalero, Tabaco y sus Metales”, which includes two numbers by Justi Barreto: “Timbalero” and “Barito”, the song “Casamiento” by Rafael “Chivirico” Dávila and a song written by Carlos Quintana: “Contestación a mi calvario”, production, direction and arrangements by Andy Duran.
- 988 Tabaco y su grupo futuro, recorded for the Velvet label in which they recorded songs like “El taxista” and “El Temporal”, with arrangements by Félix Suárez and Víctor Santana, the members of the group are Carlos Quintana singer, Fidel Antillano pianist, Jesús Torres on bass, Cruz Armando Quintana on bongo, Alirio Castillo on Timbal, Alberto Vergara on Vibraphone, Victor Santana on tres and guitar, Jorge Ruiz on conga, Tambora and guiro in charge of Jorge Orta and the choirs of Carlos Quintana, Felix Suarez, Victor Santana, and Pablo Alvarez.
On May 30, 1995, the Venezuelan musician, composer and singer Carlos Quintana, known in the salsa world as “Tabaco”, died in the city of Caracas, victim of cancer. His voice died, but his legacy of thirty-two years of artistic life remains for all the followers of his musical work in Venezuela, Colombia, Latin America and the world.