2020 Vampisoul reïssue from this 1965 album from Discos MAG (Peru)
One of the "holy grails" of 1960s Cuban music was not recorded, produced, or released in Havana or New York; in fact it was made in Lima, Peru under interesting if somewhat unexpected circumstances. Pianist Alfredo "Alfredito" Valdés Jr. (1941, Havana - 2016, New York), one of the most important figures in Latin music, came from an illustrious musical family in Cuba. In 1956, he emigrated to New York with his family, making him one of the forerunners of Cuban-based salsa music in the US. Three years later at age 18, Alfredito joined Arsenio Rodríguez and his conjunto; then in 1961 Ray Barretto recruited him for his Charanga La Moderna. Alfredito kept himself very busy, studying music and literature during the day and playing at night with the bands of Tito Puente and Machito as well as Arsenio and Barretto. Alfredito become substitute pianist for Machito and His Afro-Cubans for a tour that would take him to Colombia and Peru for a number of engagements in the winter of 1964 and into 1965. While in Lima, several problems arose with the Argentine businessman and tour promoter Mauricio Támara who took the Machito gang to the Peruvian capital but forfeited their pay and left them stranded. Machito`s brother-in-law and musical director Mario Bauzá had to travel to New York to get money for the return of the entire company. Miguel Ángel Guerrero, sound engineer and proprietor of Discos MAG, with whom he made a deal for some recording sessions, which eventually produced two albums, the first of which was Gozando. Perhaps due to the fact that it was recorded in South America, Gozando!! has more than simply Cuban and Nuyorican genres like pachanga, mambo, descarga, guaracha, and bolero; there is also a fantastic cover of the Colombian cumbia classic "Tabaquera". Overall, the swinging MAG sessions sound like a long-lost record by Cachao and Tito Puente if they led an orchestra with Charlie Palmieri on piano and Tito Rodríguez on vocals. Ultimately the Afro-Cubans were able to pay their bills and return to the United States in February, 1965. Though the Al Valdez y su Conjunto sessions for MAG may have been enjoyed by a few South American and Mexican aficionados at the time, the scarcity and obscurity of the releases insured that they would become "legendary lost records" rarely heard until recently, when the MAG vaults were opened and the reissues started to flow. facsimile edition.