The legendary Puerto Rican trumpeter and bandleader Luis “Perico” Ortiz was one of the highlights of the “Festival de la Salsa Chim Pum Callao” (Chim Pum Callo Salsa Festival) in Peru.
The Puerto Rican maestro received excellent reviews for his performance by the Peruvian press and fans. Luis “Perico” Ortiz was accompanied by singers Rafael de Jesus and Henry Santiago.
Festival de la Salsa Chim Pum Callao
The 13th edition of the “Festival de la Salsa Chim Pum Callao” took place August 22, and was attended by an estimated 35,000 Salsa fans. The attendees enjoyed a superb evening, since besides “Perico” Oritz, the Festival also had the participation of Lucho Cueto and la New York Salsa All Stars, with singers Ray de la Paz y Kim de los Santos, La Sonora Ponceña, and “the Prince of Salsa” Luis Enrique.
This lineup provided both, hard-classic salsa as well as some romantic salsa for the fans. This Festival is one of the most respected in Latin America. Artists like Ray Barretto with Tito Allen, El Gran Combo with Andy Montañez, Richie Ray and Bobby Cruz, Raphy Leavitt and La Selecta area few of the performers from previous years.
This year, fans had lots to say about Luis “Perico” Ortiz’s participation. I read some comments in the popular Peruvian blog RadioElSalsero regarding the good sound of the band (“his presence and distinctive trumpet sound where one of the highlights of a great Salsa evening” ), and particularly the performances by Rafael de Jesus ( “it was “Un Sueño Realizado” (a Realized Dream, in reference to the title one of Rafael DeJesus’ songs) to listen to him with the voice pitch he still has”) and Henry Santiago (“..we had seen him in previous years with Raphy Leavitt.., but last night he demonstrated his art as a lead singer with Perico”).
Video of Perico at Chim Pum Callao 2009
Here is a video of Luis “Perico” Ortiz performing the hit song “De Patitas” on the “Festival de Salsa de Chim Pum Callao 2009”. Notice ex-band member Jimmy Delgado playing the timbales. Jimmy participated in the original recording of “One of a Kind” which contains this song. He came to the Perico band via Willie Colón, where he played the timbales in the historic “Siembra” album with Rubén Blades.
Luis “Perico” Ortiz; trumpet master and bandleader
The “maestro” Luis “Perico” Ortiz started his musical studies at an early age in Puerto Rico’s “Escuela Libre de Musica” eventually graduating from the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico. He moved to New York City in 1970, quickly developing a reputation as an excellent trumpet player, composer, arranger, and producer.
Early in his stay in New York, he collaborated with many renown artists, including Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, David Bowie, Tony Bennett, and Sammy Davis, Jr. among many others. He started to gain more recognition in the Salsa world, and worked with Johnny Pacheco, and arranging and producing recordings for artists like Tito Allen, Tommy Olivencia, and participating with the Fania All Stars, which exposed him to the world.
Perico’s Unique Sound
Perico’s Latin Jazz influence (perhaps emphasized by his work with Puente and Santamaria) is evident in his playing style and his arrangements. His trumpet has a distinctive sound, which made him a very sought-after soloist since the late 1970’s. In 1977 he released his 1st solo work, the Latin Jazz album “My Own Image”, and in 1978 formed his own orchestra. His first salsa recording, “Super Salsa”, was a smash hit, with songs like “Julian Del Valle” and “Alabao” which climbed to the top of the hit charts.
If his album was called “Super Salsa”, his band could have been called “Super Banda” as he assembled not only great musicians, but a cohesive group of great musicians, which enjoyed playing together. With “Cachete” Maldonado on congas, Jimmy Delgado on timbales, Eddie “Gua-gua” Rivera on bass, Eric Figueroa on piano, Ray Maldonado on trumpet, and newcomer Rafael DeJesus as signer, with a clear and powerful voice, Perico’s band quickly became a fan favorite.
The next release of Luis “Perico” Ortiz was “One of a Kind” where his band exploded into a masterful performance. The huge hit “De Patitas” catapuled the band and singer Rafael DeJesus into stardom status. But hits like “Se llora y llora”, “Sentimiento de un Jibarito”, and “Pa’Lante” demonstrated the musical talent in the orchestra. This is, without a doubt, my favorite “Perico” recording.
Just listening to the mastery of Cachete in the congas, not playing the normal two-conga “tumbao”, but rather infusing some of the more progressive cuban-style conga playing he learned in his trip to Cuba with Tipica ’73, is a pleasure. Jimmy Delgado in the timbales made a great sidekick for Cachete, and the rhythm section of Eric Figueroa on piano and Eddie “Guagua” Rivera on bass was one of the best in the Latin music scene at the time.
Changes in the Luis “Perico” Ortiz Orchestra
But nothing this good can last too long. After the tour of “One of a Kind”, Cachete, “Guagua”, and Eric decided to stay in Puerto Rico and form a new Afro-Cuban-Puerto Rican fusion band they called “Batacumbele”. They recruited young conga player Giovanni Hidalgo, and went on to make history.
Rafael DeJesus left shortly after to try luck as a solo artist. Perico recruited singer Roberto Lugo, with whom he went on to make a series of successful recordings. From these recordings, my favorites include “El Isleño” and “Sabroso” (which was Perico’s trademark call – kind of what “Camínalo” is for Gilberto Santa Rosa today). These recordings have very good songs, “El Isleño” having interludes of sounds of Puerto Rico, in the plaza market, in the public cars, in the cock fight, etc., with a couple of songs from the pen of the talented José Nogueras.
After Roberto Lugo left, Perico recruited another talented newcomer named Domingo Quiñonez for lead vocals. Domingo, later nicknamed “el mas que canta” (the one that can sing the most) continued the stings of hits Perico was collecting. I particularly like two recordings of this collaboration: their very 1st one, in which Roberto and Domingo share vocals; “La Vida en Broma”, and the lesser known “In Tradition”.
Perico recorded a bunch of albums after those, with various singers. For a full list of the Luis “Perico” Ortiz discography, click one of the Perico biography links in the “Links” section below.
Luis Perico Ortiz as Producer
Perico produced recordings for many artists, but one of my favorite collaborations was his work with Tommy Olivencia. Tommy had a very well established band before joining forces with Perico, with his band being nicknamed “La Primerísima”.
However, the Luis Perico Ortiz production of “Planté Bandera” was a super hit. This is, by the account of many aficionados, Tommy Olivencia’s best album.
Tite “Curet” Alonso wrote several of the songs, the band was at its finest in the wind section as well as in the percusion. And Chamaco Ramirez was pulling all the right “soneos” with his unique “falsetto” voice pitch. In the audio clip below, I introduce the mambo piece of “Evelio y la Rumba”.
Summary and Recommendations:
Luis “Perico” Ortiz is a legend of Latin music. His collaborations, recordings, participation as member of the Fania All Stars, and now as a prolific producer with his own company. If you are a Salsa fan, I recommend you add these Luis “Perico” Ortiz recordings to your collection:
“One of a Kind”
And his productions for Tommy Olivencia:
“El Negro Chombo”
I hope to see many more projects produced by the maestro Luis “Perico” Ortiz and wish him the best. He continues to put the name of Puerto Rico and Latin music in a place of distinction.
As always, I would love to read your comments.
Related LatinoMusicCafe.com Blogs:
Salsa Music Ups and Downs; Series Intro
Salsa Music Ups and Downs; Part 2a – the threat of Rock and Disco
Salsa Music Ups and Downs; Fania All Stars sidebar
Salsa Music Ups and Downs; Part 2b – the threat of Rock adn Disco