Fania All Stars - Rhythm Machine

Band/Record: Fania All Stars - Machine

Label/Matrix: NL 1978 Fania PC 34711

Condition Record/Sleeve: Mint-/EX-

Extra Info: Fantastic Album ... Original Dutch 1st press LP on Fania ... minty dream audio ...

~~~ This is the second of four albums recorded by the Fania All-Stars on the Columbia label and the best fated of all them. At this time, Fania's mogul, the late Jerry Masucci, engaged in a distribution deal with CBS looking for a shot at crossover. In other words, being at the time the reigning label in Latin music (salsa in this case, to be way more specific), now Masucci wanted to appeal to a wider audience: the American market.
After a disasterous flop with the first attempt ("Delicate and Jumpy," a production by brothers Billy and Gene Page; guess the title they chose for the album says it all...), CBS delegates this project on Bob James, who hires the great Jay Chattaway as the producer. Chattaway, fresh from his acclaimed work on Maynard Ferguson's "Conquistador," the album with the famous Rocky theme on it, attempts the same techinque here with impressive results. Very unlike what happened in the Page brothers' case, Chatttaway actually took his time to get acquainted with the cast of Fania All-Stars (for recording purposes, virtually reduced to a sextet here: leader Johnny Pacheco on flute, percussion and vocals; conga legend Mongo Santamaría, timbale wizard Nicky Marrero, virtuoso pianist Papo Lucca, bongo player (and amazing dancer) Roberto Roena and top arranger and bassist Bobby Valentin, all of them legends by own merit) and with their style of music. So, the combination of Fania cast's Latin know-how with Chattaway's innovative style of arranging were an equal match, resulting in the refreshing, outstanding contents of this release.
Highlights on this album include the opener "Ella Fue," a crossover hit co-composed by Pacheco and guest guitarist, the late virtuoso Eric Gale; "En Orbita," straight ahead Latin jazz jam showcasing Marrero, Valentin and trumpet ace Luis "Perico" Ortiz; Chattaway's own "Jubileo," a Brazilian treat featuring Lucca's virtuosity on piano; "Verâo Vermelho," another Brazilian-influenced piece, this time with Pacheco on the spotlight, assisted by fellow flutists Joe Farrell and Eddie Daniels (both actually best known for their virtuosity on other instruments: Farrell on saxes and Daniels as a clarinetist) and trumpet master Randy Brecker; and the salsa classic "Juan Pachanga," featuring singer Ruben Blades (the track's composer, in one of his earlier hits) and one of the most influential arrangers in salsa history: the late Louie Ramirez on vibes.
If you're into Latin jazz, then this album is highly recommended for you. Give it a listen.