Originally founded back in 1964 by the Dominican bandleader and composer Johnny Pacheco and an Italian-American lawyer, Jerry Masucci, Fania Records quickly became the beloved home of salsa music, the sound that courses through the barrios of the Lower East Side, Spanish Harlem, the South Bronx, South Williamsburg, Jackson Heights, East Elmhurst, Corona and countless others. And in some way for many New Yorkers, salsa is the very sound of sweltering summer days and nights and of parties that stretch on until the wee hours …
Although the label initially began as a very small venture, the label had quickly gained popularity and became known as the home to now beloved artists such as Celia Cruz, Ray Barreto, Hector Lavoe, Luis “Perico” Ortiz, Ruben Blades and a lengthy list of others including the legendary supergroup the Fania All-Stars, which outlasted the original incarnation of the label and continued in various forms until at least 2007. in fact, the Fania All-Stars most famous release, their 1975 Live at Yankee Stadium album was included in the second set of 50 recordings preserved in the National Recording Registry – if that doesn’t cement how vitally important Fania Records and the Fania Records All-Stars are to not just New York but national history, I don’t know what would.
In 2005, Emusica, a Miami, FL-based label purchased Fania Records’s assets and began to release much of Fania Records’s back catalog, including some never-released material – and all of it, they remastered with enhanced liner notes, in the hopes of preserving some profoundly amazing music. Over the last couple of years in particular, Fania Records has made a reappearance releasing works by new artists and celebrating it’s beloved past – and as the label celebrates the 50th anniversary of it’s founding, it’s been hosting and/or co-hosting a number of events around town including the Latin Alternative Music Conference’s Summerstage showcase with Bodega Bamz, Tan Boyz, Ana Tijoux and the Beanuts and Ray Lugo and the Boogalo Destroyers at Nublu tonight.
So in honor of that great occasion check out Ray Lugo and the Boogalo Destroyers’s “El Ritmo de Nueva York,” off Que Chevere! Yes, it’s the very rhythm of New York – but there’s something about those horns and the percussion that just gets at my soul and says that I need to get up and dance – now.