‘Roberto Roena Y Su Apollo Sound’: An Explosive Combine Of Salsa, Funk, and Soul


In the summertime of 1969 whereas the astronauts of Apollo 11 have been making ready to stroll on the moon, Puerto Rican bongo participant Roberto Roena was placing collectively a band that might take off like a rocket.

The collective pleasure in regards to the American house mission fueled by world tv protection was reaching its climax as Roena and a bunch of the island’s most interesting, heavy on the horn part, gathered for rehearsals at a restaurant known as La Rue in Puerto Nuevo, exterior of San Juan. By the point Neil Armstrong stepped onto the lunar floor, on July twentieth, the band had been opportunely christened Roberto Roena Y Su Apollo Sound and was making ready to make its debut taking part in the lounge at San Juan’s San Gerónimo Hilton (later renamed the Condado Plaza Hilton). Mambo king Tito Rodríguez was transferring on from his gig on the resort and beneficial Roena, who would later recall in an interview printed on the web site Herencia Latina that the band performed at midnight from Tuesday to Sunday for six months.

Order Roberto Roena y Su Apollo Sound on vinyl.

“Every day there were lines to get in,” Roena remembered. “It was an incredible show!” Within the crowd have been the Puerto Rican composer “Tite” Curet Alonso and the Argentine file exec Charlie Tarrab, charged with scouting expertise in Puerto Rico for the groundbreaking New York label Fania. By the autumn, Roberto Roena Y Su Apollo Sound was recording its debut album, the primary manufacturing launched on the Fania Worldwide imprint.

The Apollo Sound’s unbounded music was in sync with that euphoric summer time temper generated by the house touchdown, an emblem of risk throughout a interval of tumultuous social modifications. Roberto Roena Y Su Apollo Sound soars seamlessly from salsa and Afro-Cuban rumba and bolero to funk and soul. Tite Alonso, who would emerge as one among Puerto Rico’s most prolific composers of all time, signed on as musical director of the album. He additionally wrote “Tu Loco Loco, Y Yo Tranquilo,” the opening monitor, a quintessential salsa banger.

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Roena and his crew additionally made a salsa hit of the music “El Escapulario,” beforehand recorded as a dramatic copla by Pedrito Rico, a Spanish singer with a bullfighter’s air who had a fervent following in Latin America within the Fifties. The Apollo Sound lead singer Mantilla and conguero Celso Clemente give it a rumba remedy with a spare acoustic rhythm that’s pumped as much as dance flooring quantity with a refrain of horns and voices.

“El Barrio Sin Guapo,” additionally by Tite Curet, namechecks the mozambique, a hyper funky Afro-Cuban fashion launched by conga participant Pello el Afrokán, in a music that pays tribute to Cuban music’s position because the musical cornerstone of the salsa motion. Whereas many of the album will get down with a streetwise vibe, a canopy of the gorgeous Bobby Capo bolero “Soñando con Puerto Rico” performs it supper membership straight.

Roena additionally coated quite a lot of English-language tracks like “Sing a Simple Song” by Sly and the Household Stone and Blood, Sweat and Tears’ “Spinning Wheel.” The album’s bilingualism comes off effortlessly because of the energy of a trio of Puerto Rican singers, the distinctive and under-recognized salsa singer Piro Mantilla and Félix Casiano Morales, referred to as Dino Man, who drove the English songs, along with Frankie Calderon.

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Nonetheless, there was one factor misplaced in translation. Perhaps it was Roena or somebody in his band, or an worker at Fania who titled his accelerated cowl of Otis Redding’s meditation “(Sittin’on) the Dock of the Bay” “El Pato de la Bahia,” as an alternative of “El Muelle de la Bahia.” Whoever it was, they ensured that the music would eternally be recognized to salsa followers, in Spanish, as “The Duck of the Bay.”

Order Roberto Roena y Su Apollo Sound on vinyl.

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