It has been 49 years since “The Sun of Latin Music”, Eddie Palmieri’s historic album, which marked a fundamental milestone in the history of Latin music by becoming the first production to win a Grammy Award in the category of Best Latin Recording, awarded on February 28, 1976.
Recorded in New York at Electric Lady Studios, the album was released by Coco Records on Wednesday, September 18, 1974.
The album featured vocals by Lalo Rodríguez, who was only 16 years old at the time.
It includes: ‘Nada De Ti’, ‘Deseo Salvaje’, ‘Una Rosa Española’, ‘Nunca Contigo’, ‘Un Día Bonito’, ‘Mi Cumbia’.
“The Sun of Latin Music” proved to the world that Latin music, especially Salsa, was an honorable art form and opened the doors for many other Latin artists to receive solid recognition for their talent and work.
The sun of Latin music
MP, 1990. MP-3109 CD
Recorded in 1975
The Sun of Latin Music was a controversial album. It was too far from the easy formula of the middle salsa boom – what César Miguel Rondón calls the “mtancerization of salsa”.
“Ahead of its time” was one of the comments; “a piece like Un día bonito, had to be mutilated” with a 6-minute piano intro just to be able to play it on the radio; a danzón (Una rosa española) with lyrics by the Beatles; a cumbia that is not very Colombian, despite the name (Mi cumbia) and the chorus that says “very Colombian…”.
Nevertheless, this album represents the strength of the spirit of salsa: the encounter between the harshness of the street and the majesty of the most sophisticated musical sound.
One of the best albums of Caribbean music ever released.
Palmieri was always in search of something new. The Sun Of Latin Music is the culmination of a phase that began with an earlier album, Sentido (1974).
This time he chose the Panamanian Vitín Paz for the trumpet solo, Barry Rogers for his trombone and an unusual tuba, which formed a kind of basso continuo, and besides Barry, José Rodrigues, who for a long time was, and despite his absence still is, his most emblematic trombonist.
Ronnie Cuber and Mario Rivera were chosen as the first saxophonists in a Palmieri orchestra.
For many it is Palmieri’s best album, the most experimental and universal. One that borders on academic music, but without forgetting the dancer.
With spices like the violin of Alfredo de la Fe, who contributes his creativity everywhere, the tuba, the penetrating power of the brass, the overwhelming percussion.
Thus, Una rosa española is a modern danzón that later becomes a montuno that revives the joyful Palmerian game with the dignified uproar of trumpets, saxophones and trombones.
A young man of only 17 years, Lalo Rodríguez, who years later would become the standard-bearer of what was called salsa erotica, was chosen as the singer. Another novelty: the timbre of his voice, with a very high register, and the way he faced the montuno, which did not correspond to his age, caused different reactions.
But the most amazing thing about this 1974 album is the 14:20-minute track Un día bonito, arranged by Barry Rogers, which would keep even the most trained dancers busy. But Palmieri wasn’t just thinking about leg sets or dance floors.
The piece begins with a long piano interlude, the same structure he used in the track Adoración from the album Sentido, which would mark a new musical phase in his career.
It was more than experimental, it had some electro-acoustic music; no one had ever had the audacity to do that on a salsa album. Palmieri made the leap, he could do it, it sounded more like Stravinsky or Milhaud than Puente or Fania.
Suddenly, back in the piece, the orchestra bursts in, harder and heavier than ever, wishing the city of Los Angeles a beautiful day and San Francisco a “warm greeting,” and it is certain that Keruack and Borrough heard the call.
Then Eddie Palmieri was consecrated by the intellectuals and the educated and also by the Grammy.
The sun of Latin music
Produced by Harvey Averne
Eddie Palmieri: piano
Lalo Rodríguez: vocals
Vitín Paz: trumpet
Virgil Jones: trumpet
Barry Rogers: trombone, tenor tuba
José Rodrigues: trombone
Ronnie Cuber: Baritone Saxophone, Flute
Mario Rivera: Baritone Saxophone, Flute
Alfredo de la Fe: Violin
Eddie Guagua Rivera: Bass
Tommy Chuckie Lopez, Jr.: Bongo
Eladio Pérez: conga
Nicky Marrero: timbales, percussion
Peter Gordon: French Horn
Tony Price: Tuba
Jimmy Sabater: Chorus
Willie Torres: Chorus
Tommy López Sr.: conga
Tracks: Nada de ti; Deseo salvaje; Una rosa española; Nunca contigo; Un día bonito; Mi cumbia
Arrangements by René Hernández and Barry Rogers
One of the most valuable pieces in the exhibition “Rhythm and Power: Salsa in New York”, which will be presented until next November at the Museum of the City of the Big Apple, is the first Grammy in the history of Latin music, awarded in 1976 to Eddie Palmieri for his album “Sun of Latin Music”.
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