Rito Esclavo


"In 1952 [Pedro Laza Gutiérrez] founded the Sonora Pelayera, which in 1958 became known as Pedro Laza Y Sus Pelayeros when, under the supervision of Antonio Fuentes of Discos Fuentes, Laza was contracted to back Puerto Rican bohemian crooner Daniel Santos for the hit album Candela (1976). . . . Laza had fallen in love with the big band sound of swing jazz and the mambo of Pérez Prado, Benny Moré, Machito and Tito Puente . . . Laza also drew from Colombia's own brass band traditions, of which San Pelayo is a famous exponent, especially with brass band arrangements of coastal genres like cumbia, fandango and porro. . . . Rito Esclavo was an early Discos Fuentes stereo LP album and Laza's eighth as leader of Los Pelayeros, being released to great success in 1961. Listening to the album evokes a bygone era of nattily dressed dancers swaying and sashaying across a hotel patio floor to the big band sounds of velvety saxophones, thrilling trumpets and tumbling drums under tall palm trees lit by moonlight as the sea laps the sand in the distance. Questionable cheesecake bondage album cover art aside, the record itself is distinguished by high quality engineering (a hallmark of Discos Fuentes engineer José María Fuentes) that still holds up more than half a century later, with bright and deceptively intricate interlocking brass featuring a distinctive reed section, rolling tropical percussion and a wide variety of Caribbean rhythms from both Colombia (cumbia, porro, paseaíto, fandango) and Cuba (cha-cha-chá, mambo). There are only two vocal numbers, the previously mentioned 'La Mafafa' (also a hit for La Sonora Cordobesa) and the minor-key exotica title song 'Rito Esclavo' (Slave Rite) sung by Mario Gareña, which is among one of the more dramatic cumbia hits of the 'golden era' Discos Fuentes catalog. Of the instrumentals, all are top notch but some especially stand out: 'Señora Santana' has an infectious melody, while 'Lindo Magdalena', named after the Río Magdalena, a river that snakes through a region that is one of the cradles of Colombian folkloric music, is a classic cumbia that effortlessly blends urban big band instrumentation and authentic sounding indigenous percussion." --Pablo Yglesias (DJ Bongohead) Presented in facsimile artwork and pressed on 180 gram vinyl.