Cheo Feliciano – Felicidades

Cheo Feliciano - Felicidades album cover

Cheo opens up this album with the classic “Mapeye.” Once the coro (Adalberto Santiago, Hector Lavoe, Heny Alvarez, Ismael Miranda, Ismael Quintana and Justo Betancourt, and the great composer, Tite Curet Alonso) chime in, during the montuno, the Bobby Valentin swinging arrangement takes off. The rhythm section is as tight as it can get with contributions by Ray Barretto and Tony Jimenez on conga, Roberto Roena on bongos, Ismael Quintana on maracas, and Nicky Marrero on timbales, you can’t go wrong. Especially with the performance by cuatrista Yomo Toro in the mix. Larry Harlow is on piano, the wonderful trombonist Barry Rogers is featured in the horn section along with trumpeters Luis Perico Ortiz, Hector ‘Bomberito’ Zarzuela, Larry Spencer, and John Faddis. This is truly a Fania All Stars reunion. The recording is directed by the boss, Johnny Pacheco, and produced by Fania president Jerry Masucci. Cheo was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico. The nickname, Cheo, was given once his career took off as to not be confused with another great Puerto Rican composer/vocalist, Jose Feliciano. Cheo’s career took a big turn when he joined the Joe Cuba Sextet and was advanced when he joined the orchestra of Eddie Palmieri. Finally, he was signed up to Fania Records where he initiated his solo career and inclusion in the Fania All Stars events. Cheo wishes his many fans Felicidades. And is sure everyone will enjoy listening and dancing to this exquisite album. —Bobby Marin