A set of innovative ideas
Recorded live on January 16, 1974 at Sing Sing Prison, listeners will immediately discover that the musicians actually came to play from the first note. In a recent conversation, Harlow considers this album to be one of the best of his career and tells how the enthusiasm of the audience positively affected the performance. This was the only Latin album to be recorded in quadraphonic format. The basic concept was similar to today’s surround sound systems, but the way to achieve the four audio channels changed in terms of format.
Harlow took advantage of new technology and recorded the live album live an 8-channel RCA unit and mixed the recording by spinning on a chair surrounded by four speakers. The Fania sound was created by New York musicians who added swing and a distinctive musical sensibility to Cuban son and other Spanish-speaking Caribbean genres. In the process, they twisted the music into something totally new. “Live in Quad” provides an opportunity to hear that musical transformation, as the main part of the music from this concert consists of compositions by Arsenio Rodriguez.
In the 1950s, Harlow made several visits to Cuba, where he followed and became friends with Rodriguez. Back in New York, he had the opportunity to play with his idol and eventually dedicated an full album to him. For Harlow, the piano is overdubbed and interacted with a harpsichord, simulating the union of the tres and the piano made by Arsenio. This album sounds as exciting and fresh as it did 32 years ago. “Señor Sereno,” Harlow’s big hit with Ismael Miranda, opens the album. Junior Gonzalez, who debuted with Harlow in Hommy, gives us his own version. On a personal level, this performance is an example of the Fania sound: great orchestral work, swing and energy.
More details about the album
Also from Hommy, the song “Gracia Divina” grows in intensity with Tony Jiménez’s brilliant rhythmic fills over Harlow’s guajeos and the powerful swing of the horn section. Justo Betancourt’s gifted voice stars in the treatment given by Harlow to “Mayari” by Compay Segundo. “Jóvenes Del Muelle” is another Cuban classic, arranged by the great Barry Rogers. The arrangement and playing evoke classic ensembles while still sounding modern. Here we listen to trombone solos and a tasty bass solo by Eddie Guagua Rivera.
To date, Harlow is best known for his version of “The Wallet.” This arrangement by Sam Burtis in a masterclass. Notice the Lilí Martínez’s influence in Harlow’s solo, followed by fine trumpet solos and another violin solo by Lewis Kahn. “Tumba y Bongo” was originally composed for Arsenio’s rhythm section (Kila, Quique and Chocolate). This arrangement by Mark Weinstein highlights an exciting hand-to-hand between Pablo Rosario and Tony Jimenez, who delights the audience when he raises his drum in the middle of the solo.
“Suéltala” provides a framework for Júnior González’s soneos while offering exciting solos by Reynaldo Jorge and Nicky Marrero. “Arsenio”, the theme song of the dramatic album Harlow recorded in tribute to his musical hero, gets the matancero flavor of Justo Betancourt with Tony Jimenez standing out with another great solo. In “Descarga Final,” Harlow unleashes the creativity of the members of his orchestra and the singers exchange soneos in a friendly hand-to-hand. Guagua offers another impressive solo while the percussionists are meant to steal the show.
Ralph Castrella – Trumpet
Charlie Miller – Trumpet
Junior Gonzalez – Maracas
Larry Harlow – Piano, Harpsichord
Reynaldo Jorge – Trombone
Pablo “El Indio” Rosario – Bongo, Cowbell
Anthony “Tony” Jimenez – Congas
Nicky Marrero – Timbales
Eddie “Guagua” Rivera – Bass
Lewis Kahn – Trombone, Violin
Lead Singers – Justo Betancourt, Junior Gonzalez
Choir – Adalberto Santiago, Larry Harlow, Ralp Castrella
Master Of Ceremonies – Paco Navarro
Producer – Larry Harlow
Engineer – Bernie Fox
Assistant Engineer – Randall Shepherd
Mixing – Good Vibration Studios, N. Y. C.
Recorded Live – Sing Sing, January 16, 1974.
Arrangements – Louie Cruz (“Señor Sereno,” “Gracia Divina”), Larry Harlow (“Mayari,”, “Descarga Final”), Barry Rogers (“Jóvenes del Muelle”), Sam Burtis (“La Cartera”), Mark Weinstein (“Tumba y Bongo”), Charlie Camilleri (“Suéltala”), Bobby Valentín (“Arsenio”)
Original Album Cover – Gary Mason
Metal Graphic Art From Original Album – Charlie Rosario
Larry Harlow / Jenaro ”Heny’’ Álvarez
Jóvenes Del Muelle
Tumba Y Bongó
Larry Harlow / Ismael Miranda
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