José Antonio Fajardo, in the month of November we refer to one of the greatest musicians that the island of Cuba has given in the last century; we are talking about maestro José Antonio Fajardo Ramos: flutist, composer, orchestra conductor and music producer; one of the great promoters of Cuban music represented in the rhythms of bolero, son, guaracha, mambo, chachachá and pachanga.
José Fajardo was born in Guane, province of Pinar del Río in 1919. He began his musical career as a maraquero in his father Alberto Fajardo’s orchestra, later he took up the flute.
From the age of 16 he was part of several groups such as: Joseíto Fernández, Paulina Álvarez, Melodías del 40, La Romance de René Álvarez, the orchestra of maestro Antonio María Romeu, the orchestra of pianist Luis González Valdés: “Neno” González and the orchestra of Antonio Arcaño, known as Arcaño y sus Maravillas.
After his time in these famous groups, in 1949, Fajardo created his own orchestra called Fajardo y sus Estrellas, with musicians such as: Orlando “Cachaito López”, René Fernández on piano, violinists Ignacio Berroa and Félix Reyna, who was also the composer; percussionist Jesús Esquijarrosa on timbales; Carlos Real on tumbadora and Rolando Valdés on güiro; in the vocal part he initially integrated Joseito Valdés.
In the early fifties, with the boom of chachachá in 1951, things improved a lot and the charangas orchestras began to perform in the best cabarets, aristocratic salons and private parties of high society, such as the Montmatre and Tropicana cabarets.
Fajardo became internationally known in the mid 50’s at the head of his orchestra, Fajardo y sus Estrellas, he was the first charanguero to introduce the cymbals to the timbal and the pioneer in the incorporation of the cowbell and the bongo to the charanga, his group was one of the sensations of the golden age of chachacha and pachanga.
After going into exile in the 1960s, he toured Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America, popularizing an eminently Cuban repertoire.
Maestro José Fajardo has been one of the only musicians who have stood out in different periods of Latin music; initially in Cuba, in the 50’s with the arrival of Chachachá, later in the era of Pachanga and Boogaloo, in the sixties in the United States, and he also came to prominence in the golden era of salsa in the seventies and eighties of the last century.
In the seventies, eighties and later, the flute master recorded with Joe Quijano & His Conjunto Cachana, Tico-Alegre All Stars; Ray Barretto and Adalberto Santiago; Johnny Pacheco, Pupi, Javier Y Su Charanga; Jimmy Sabater, Orlando Contreras, Alfredo Valdés Jr, Fania All Stars, Louie Ramirez, Graciela and Mario Bauza, Israel “Cachao” Lopez, with our great Joe Arroyo in the nineties and with Hector Casanova, Mario Muñoz, Andy Gonzalez, Eddie Montalvo, Manny Oquendo, Alfredo “Chocolate” Armenteros, Carlos “Patato” Valdes, Alfredo Rodriguez and Francisco Aguabella.
After a brilliant musical career spanning more than six decades, Maestro José Antonio Fajardo passed away in New York City on December 11, 2001, leaving an enormous legacy to our culture.
The great musical contribution of this portentous son of Pinar del Rio, has highlighted him as the highest flute of Cuba and Latin America, a true ambassador of Cuban music and salsa in the world; from our beautiful page ‘Los Mejores Salseros del Mundo’ we want to highlight the enormous artistic career of maestro José Antonio Fajardo Ramos as a tribute to his wonderful musical work.
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