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California Jam

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Album Review

Although by the end of the '70s the Fania All-Stars weren't the freewheeling collective they'd been ten years earlier, they were still packed with talent, including Johnny Pacheco, Bobby Valentín, Papo Lucca, Roberto Roena, and a bespectacled fellow named Ray Barretto showing mastery over the conga. California Jam may have been released in 1980, but it was actually recorded four years earlier — in California, natch — on what had been planned as a date for Columbia (with attendant strings and mainstream arrangements). When producer Gene Page backed out at the last minute, Pacheco and company had the studio to themselves to record whatever they wanted, and the result was a straight-ahead salsa date, closer to Pacheco's roots in charanga (and heavier on his flute playing than most other dates of the late '70s). A torrid salsa jam ensues on the opener, "Vente Conmigo," but Pacheco and Barretto get major solo features on the ensuing two tracks ("Guajira Para los Pollos" and "Taxi to Aguadilla," respectively).

Biography

Formed: 1967 in New York, NY

Genre: Salsa and Tropical

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

The flagship act for Fania Records, the Fania All-Stars popularized New York salsa during the 1970s by organizing concerts at larger and larger venues (from the Red Garter in Greenwich Village all the way to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx) that spotlighted not only the label's but the salsa world's biggest stars — Ray Barretto, Willie Colón, Johnny Pacheco, Rubén Blades, Hector Lavoe, Ismael Miranda, Cheo Feliciano, Bobby Cruz, Pete "El Conde" Rodriguez, and special guests like Tito Puente, Celia...
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California Jam, Fania All-Stars
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