When Louie Ramirez signed his first contract with Fania Records in 1971, Fania President Jerry Masucci, who was also a lawyer, decided to release Louie’s first album using the pseudonym Ali Baba to avoid any possible legal repercussions from his previous recording commitment.
Even before Salsa’s evolution began in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Louie Ramirez was at the forefront of the New York Latin Mambo sound. His flare for creating electrifying, danceable musical arrangements was embraced by top band leaders of the era. From Tito Puente and Tito Rodriguez to the flourishing Boogaloo bands of that time, Louie was sought after for his musical talents, professionalism and attention to intricate detail—not to mention his charisma and ability to make others feel at ease.
This album features a wonderful blend of the New York Boogaloo sound of the early 1970’s (which reached its peak during this decade) as well as some early Salsa rhythms. Rudy Calzado does an extraordinary job on vocals. The harmonious sounds of “The Latin Chords” are used effectively on the Latin Soul and Boogaloo tunes.
Louie’s flair for composing and arranging music were comparable to his abilities as a percussionist, vibraharpist and pianist. Louie began playing vibes for the Joe Loco Band when Pete Terrace left in 1956 and subsequently rose to fame while writing and playing for the top orchestra leaders of the day. Louie later formed his own orchestra and became a successful recording artist in his own right.
SONGS ON THE ALBUM:
Louie demonstrates his humorous side on this original composition. Trumpeter Larry Spencer steps out for a few solo licks. Both the Boogaloo and Latin influences prevail throughout this clever tune, which were written especially for this album.
#2. EL TITERE
Another Ramirez composition, El Titere, was originally recorded by Johnny Pacheco during the early Fania years. In this version, Louie solos on the timbales while his conjunto swings wildly. Check out Willie Torres’ duet with Rudy Calzado at the end of the song.
#3. I DIG RHYTHM
In this clever Boogaloo, Louie and Jimmy Sabater perform vocal renditions of percussion instruments during the breaks. However, at the end of the recording, one of the coristas erroneously utters “Deen Deen” instead of “Doon Doon” during the vocal/percussion segment, which is expertly picked up by Larry Spencer and sends Jimmy Sabater laughing.
#4. WHAT CAN I DO
The romantic side of Louie Ramirez emerges in this Latin soul ballad that evolves into a Boogaloo-blues sound. Louie often worked on cross-over composition/arrangements. Here you will hear the great Latin soul blends of Louie Ramirez, where Latin chords act as vocals.
#5. COOKIN’ WITH ALI
A funky Son Montuno performed by Louie’s band with veteran Guarachero Rudy Calzado on vocals. Jimmy Sabater, Willie Torres and Bobby Marin sing the chorus. A very danceable number with a clever mambo arrangement.
#6. ALI BABA
Another one of Louie’s funny Boogaloo recordings, here Louie shows his expertise in writing for a small conjunto. Louie always said it was much easier to write for a large orchestra than a small group of musicians. Check out the banter produced by Bobby and Jimmy and Larry’s trumpet solo.
This ancient classic is treated delightfully by Louie with the expert vocal style of veteran Rudy Calzado. The tune kicks off as an uptempo rhumba then evolves into a New York-style son. Listen for Louie’s solo on the piano.
#8. IT’S NOT WHAT YOU SAY
The Latin Chords, four guys from the Bronx who created harmony under the street lights, provide the vocals in this funky Boogaloo rendition. Louie provides melodic lines for the two trumpets during the mambos.
This clever descarga (or jam session) features Louie’s band. Frankie Malabe’s conga solo sparkles while the band kicks it into high gear. Larry Spencer solos into the fade. Louie again appears at the end of the album with his witticisms and expertly-contrived piano piece at the end. Enjoy!
Arrangements: Louie Ramirez
Louie Ramirez Timbales
Elio Osacar Piano
Larry Spencer Trumpet
Demereado Alberto Trumpet
Bobby Valentin Trumpet
Hector de Leon Trumpet
Manuel Gonzalez Trombone
Victor David Perez Bass
Bobby Rodriguez Bass
Victor Allende Conga
John Rodriguez Jr. Bongo & Bell
Produced by: Jerry Masucci
Recording Director: Johnny Pacheco
Audio Engineer: Irving Greenbaunn
Written by Bobby Marin