I discovered while working on this review that Salsa is not that old, nor even that traditional. Although its roots were developed in the 40's, Salsa was mostly created in New York in the 60's by musicians of Cuban and Puerto Rican origins during the so-called exotic period that America was going through in search of new flavors. Personally I was persuaded at the base that the Salsa was a current dating at least of the beginning of the 20th century, but it would seem that not. In the 60's, scenes similar to Jazz were created, creating com-munities so strong that the music industry could not help but get involved. Among its derivatives we find the Boogaloo scene which merges American styles like Rhythms and Blues and Jazz, symbol of a cultural mixture in full boiling. We find very quickly emblematic figures who distinguish themselves in particular Mongo San-tamaria, Joe Cuba, Willie Bobo, Pete Rodriguez but I think that the most important and talented remains Ray Barretto, a virtuoso percussionist, specialist of congas. Ray Barretto is probably the most extravagant, the most experimental and the most passionate of the Boogaloo universe. Not only is he the one who offers the most phenomenal album of this scene with "Acid" in 1968, but he is also recognized for his crazy productivity over more than 40 years.
Born in 1929 in New York City, Ray Barretto came from a family whose parents fled Puerto Rico to try the American dream. It is thanks to his mother that Barretto has his passion for music, listening to the Big Band of Duke Ellington and Count Basie during his childhood. During his military service, Barretto knew that he would make a career in music. At the age of 19, he was spotted by the legendary Charlie Parker at a Jam Ses-sion, a specialty that would characterize Barretto's nature and career. By the end of the 50s, Barretto was so well known in the circuit that he played for the famous Tito Puente, an absolute recognition for the Hispanic and Latin scene. Without realizing it, Bar-retto had not yet released a studio record that he had revolution-ized Latin music by becoming the one who launched the massive incorporation of percussion. It's a bit like the arrival of electrification for guitarists, you have to measure the impact of this innovative artist. As New York became the hub of Latin music in the 60s, Barretto ended up signing contracts with several American labels. He released his first records and had his first successes, but the most important thing was still to come, ac-cording to me, because in the middle of the sixties, Barretto developed the Boogaloo, which marked a con-sequent evolution of Latin music until its studio apogee with "Acid" in 1968.
Freshly signed to Fania, Barretto recorded in 1967 "Acid", a tropical album that has so much energy to spare that it should have been stretched over 3 hours rather than 35 minutes. This album perfectly sums up all the effervescence of the new Latin currents in a crossover project of absolute richness. In a second time, it chan-nels all the essence and the best of its author. Built on 8 songs, it is impossible to be bored one second while listening to Acid. Accompanied by 7 musicians, Ray Barretto focuses on percussion and composition, letting each element recite its score according to their qualities. He doesn't try to sing, for example, only for some backings, and all the magic is expressed by a formidable team cohesion. From the opening track "El Nuevo Barretto", the album already takes a considerable extent, the brass mixes with ease with the rhythmic part, completing and improving themselves as if it was only one and same person who expressed himself. For al-most 7 minutes, without the slightest erasure, Barretto and his comrades deliver a triumphant and revitaliz-ing ballad. A real dose of contagious good mood invades you, and it is only the beginning. If on the surface, the festive style sometimes seems monomaniacal, the richness and variety of styles are actually amazing. On "Mercy Mercy Baby", the vocals are so close to Soul that you sometimes forget that you are losing your bearings. The eponymous song "Acid" is less down to earth, more elegant with a Boogaloo that is only meant to seduce you. When you mix the nature of the previous two songs, you get the excellent "Deeper Shade Of Soul", in my opinion the best song of the project. "Sola Te Dejaré" is more in a Salsa vein, a moment of sweetness and intense sensuality. Finally on "The Teacher of Love", Ray Barretto offers us a breathtaking Rhythm and Blues song whose groove will stay in your head. In my opinion, "Acid" transcends the Latin-Hispanic genres with the Afro-American ones, which gives it a particular flavor that didn't really exist until 1968, to weave an album that comfortably settles in the 50 essential albums of Latin music.