“They met when Richie was twelve, on Hoyt Street in Brooklyn. Bobby Cruz had formed a band and needed a bass player. Richie fit the bill and joined the band. That was the beginning of a friendship/partnership that would last a lifetime. Richie, of course, is famed Lain music bandleader/pianist/arranger/composer, Ricardo Ray; who was born Richard Maldonado Morales in 1945, in Brooklyn, NY. He commercialized his name by using his brother’s first name, Ray, as his surname. Hence: Ricardo Ray. Richie’s brother, Ray Maldonado, was a respected trumpeter in his own right. Their father, Pacifico Maldonado, was a well-known guitarist in his hometown, Bayamon, and in surrounding communities. Ricardo’s parents’ insistence placed him in front of a piano at the age of seven, where he took lessons and mastered his craft.
Bobby Cruz lived down the street from Ricardo Ray and has been the identifiable voice of the Ricardo Ray – Bobby Cruz band since its inception. He was born in Hormigueros, Puerto Rico. They relocated to Puerto Rico from New York and have been a vital part of the adoring Puerto Rican community. They became religious ministers and founded 70 Christian churches over the years.
The duo recorded several hits for Alegre Records including one of the most danceable of all Salsa Holiday (Navideño) albums, titled “Felices Pascuas”.
One of this dynamic duo’s most exciting recordings, Felices Pascuas has all the elements that made “Sonido Bestial” such a resounding success. “Bomba en Navidad” is a joyful tune; Bobby Cruz’s rendition of “Mi Niñez”, the classic by composer Joan Manuel Serrat is one of the most shattering ever; a crushing statement on the effects of father time and a lost childhood; the peerless Miki Vimari is enchanting in “Aguinaldo Navideño”; and there are moments of solemnity on “Kyrie Eleison” and “Sinfonia to Cantata No. 29.” Like their preceding effort, this remains an unqualified classic, unblemished with time and always present for continuous enjoyment. An absolute must-have for salsa fans.
The band includes Ricardo Ray on piano and arrangements, Bobby Cruz on vocals, coro, arrangements; Miki Vimari on vocals and coro, Ismael Cocolia Rodriguez and Ismael Rivera on trumpet, Manolito Gonzales bongos and percussion, Jose Hidalgo on conga. Charlie ‘El Pirata’ Cotto on timbales and Polito Huertas is on bass.” –written by Bobby Marin