Making the transition from the ghettos of New York Latin barrios to the heights of the music world requires enormous character. Such is the case of Ray Barretto.
Never straying from his roots, he was a great admirer of swing, jam, jazz, and the genres’ most noted figures, such as Dizzy Gillespie. He made these genres his own, standing out as a great vocalist.
His career took on a new dimension in 1967, when he replaced Mongo Santamaría in the Tito Puente Orchestra, with whom he recorded his first album, “Dance Mania.” The album’s success would set the stage for his future professional career.
Between 1968 and 1975, Barretto recorded a total of nine albums on the Fania label, a label which he helped to create.
He was a sensitive artist, open to all musical currents and manifestations, which allowed him to experiment with the many different rhythms he infused with his unique style.
The musical legacy of Ray Barretto included a Best Latin Album Grammy in 1989 for “Ritmo en el corazón,” which he recorded with Celia Cruz. In 1990, he took a seat of honor in the Salon de Fama for International Latin Music. He was also honored with the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters award. These were the most prestigious of the many awards he won over the course of his career.
With his death, his life may have ended, but his star shines on more brightly than ever in the musical heavens.