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Bands such as La Terrífica, Conjunto La Perla, and more recently, La Clásica de Eric Rivera all ascended from the majestic city of Ponce, Puerto Rico also known as the Island of Enchantment. However, not one has delighted salsa fans with the consistency of Sonora Ponceña, known as La Querendona del Bailador and El Látigo del Sur.
In 1979 the Inca label –a division of Fania Records– released the album “Energized,” which was the second collection of hits by Sonora Ponceña from Quique and “Papo” Lucca under the name. Once again, the scales tipped in favor of Santa Isabel-native Luigi Texidor, the most representative vocalist in the history of Ponce’s most emblematic orchestra, which is also about to celebrate its 50th anniversary in the entertainment business.
This collection includes eight of the hits that climbed to the top of the charts in Puerto Rico and South America between 1975 and 1978. The compilation includes the greatest hits from the LPs Tiene Pimienta, Conquista Musical, El Gigante del Sur, and Explorando. The latter was released in 1978, and marked San Juan-native Humberto “Tito” Gómez’s return to the band founded in the late 1950s by nonagenarian Enrique “Quique” Lucca. “Energized” is a good example of the excellence of a band that went from existing on the fringes of the New York salsa sound to making the rules with its flavor and unmistakable mark of distinction distilled in its combination of three powerful, brilliant, and finely tuned trumpets. The arrangements of Papo Lucca, a pianist influenced by his counterpart Luisito Benjamín, were enhanced by the Afro-Cuban tradition of Arsenio Rodríguez; however, they also evoke the traditions of South America, particularly Brazil, which were in vogue on the Latin music scene in the second half of the 1970s.
The album opens up with Luis Demetrio’s mythical, catchy number, “El Pío-Pío.” Luigi Texidor demonstrates his facility for tackling humorous lyrics with the story of a man who leaves the city to seek refuge and relaxation in the countryside, only to find that the chirping of the birds and the buzzing of the mosquitos mars the silence and openness of the land. “Ñañara Cai” is another witty, amusing song that Luigi masters. The lyrics include a discussion of vivid paradoxes which, in 1976, were enough to make the most serious person dissolve into a fit of laughter, with stories of a monkey, a piano playing Papo, and a mosquito dying of laughter. “Moreno Soy,” a hit Luigi recorded in 1978 with the Bobby Valentín Orchestra, is an irresistible guaguancó number that appeared on Tito Gómez’s album Explorando. Francisco “Chalina” Alvarado wrote the song for Luigi to record with Sonora Ponceña, acknowledging that it was a very commercial song, Luigi recorded it with Valentín, making it into a classic. “Jubileo 20” introduces us once again to Tito Gómez, who rejoined with Sonora Ponceña after trying his luck with Ray Barretto and Tito Valentín. In “Canto Al Amor,” Gómez forms an unforgettable trio with Yolanda Rivera and Miguelito Ortíz. Doing its title justice, “Energized” culminates in an outpouring of energy and wit: “Tiene Pimienta,” the story of a woman who hates the daily grind of the big city, and decides to devote her life to gossip about her fellow man. “Boranda,” penned by Rio de Janeiro-native Edu Lobo and rewritten in Spanish by Panamanian Rubén Blades, is a plea to Mother Earth for rain so that the people might bear the suffering inflicted by drought.
Papo Lucca’s piano solo and scatting are celebrated still today, three decades later. “Noche Como Boca ‘e Lobo,” one of Tite Curet Alonso’s masterpieces, is another humorous interpretation by Luigi Texidor, who establishes a parallel between a lover’s betrayal and the gloomiest of nights.
Album Credits: Quique Lucca – Director Papo Lucca – Piano Delfín Pérez – Trumpet Tony ‘El Cordoves’ Rodríguez – Trumpet Cuchy Castro – Trumpet Humberto Godineaux – Trumpet Tato Santaella – Bass Edgardo Morales – Timbal Jesse Colón – Timbal Raymond Vega – Timbal Angel Ramos – Conga Johnny Rivero – Conga and Bongos Angel Hernández – Bongos Vocals: Luigi Texidor, Tito Gómez, Yolanda Rivera, Miguel Ortiz Production and Arrangements: Enrique ‘Papo’ Lucca and Louie Ramirez (“El pio pio,” “Ñañara cai”) Enrique ‘Papo’ Lucca (“Moreno soy”, “Jubileo 20”, “Canto al amor”) Louie Ramirez (“Boranda,” “Noche como boca ‘e lobo”) Larry Harlow (“Tiene pimienta”) Coordinator – Jerry Masucci Cover Design – Ron Levine Written by Jaime Torres Torres