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History and Discography of Ritmo Oriental

Gracias a: Osvaldo Martínez, Brett Gollin, Rob Holland, Victor Barrientos, Danilo Lozano, Emiliano Echeverría, Steve Cervantes, Luis Carranza, Tom Ehrlich, Rich Pagano, Cristóbal, Arturo Gómez, Cubop

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Our Roots of Timba series has vast amounts of transcriptions and in-depth analysis of Ritmo Oriental's music. The aim of this section is simply to chronicle the history of the group's recordings and to request that readers write in with additional information and photos.

Ritmo Oriental was founded by departing members of Orquesta Revé in July of 1958, but there's no mention of them in the astoundingly complete Díaz-Ayala database, so it's unlikely they recorded prior to the 60s.

A mysterious Cuban musicologist sent us a list of discographical information including both the numbers on the released vinyl (LD for LPs and EPA for singles and EPs) and the "job numbers" (beginning with CA, CS or CP). We think these stand for Cera Areíto, Cera Siboney and Cera Palma), and we think that the following four songs were probably from the early 60s, but we have neither recordings nor photos ... except ... Osvaldo Martínez has an unlabeled bootleg of Viva la libertad. It sounds like traditional charanga from the early 60s but has one unusual break that gives a hint of the future style of the group.

CP591 Viva la libertad   s-mt  
CP591 Yo vengo de por allá   s-mt  
CP591 La sabía naturaleza   s-mt  
CP591 Complejo de amor   b  

The first Ritmo Oriental vinyl that we've seen and heard is almost definitely from 1965.

1965: La Ritmo te está llevando
Areíto LD-3145
cuban music, musica cubana
photo courtesy of Osvaldo Martínez

CA10 El ritmo te va llevando Luis Oduardo Barrero gp LD3145
CA10 Nada seré Juan Crespo Maza b-ch LD3145
CA10 Gózala Ramiro Reyes gp LD3145
CA10 Checoslovaquia Chachachá Yañez/Gómez ch LD3145
CA10 No te engañes Mario San Pedro ch LD3145
CA10 Una descarga cualuiera Enrique Lazaga ch LD3145
CA10 Quién baila mejor? Lázaro Núñez s-gp LD3145
CA10 Y cuéntale a Lulú Jesús Esquijarrosa b-ch LD3145
CA10 Oye Vicente Alfredo Calderón s-mt LD3145
CA10 Los rolos Sergio A. Valdés gp LD3145
CA10 El billo de tus ojos Eloy Martínez b-mb LD3145
CA10 Una pena Samuel Téllez mz LD3145

Four of these tracks were also released on an EP with the same cover, EPA-1053. The music from this period is pure charanga such as you might expect from Orquesta Aragón.

cuban music, musica cubana
back of EPA-1053 (courtesy of Osvaldo Martínez)

1971?: Sabroseao con la Ritmo
Areíto EPA-6238
cuban music, musica cubana

cuban music, musica cubana
photos courtesy of Osvaldo Martínez

CA468 Chica te quiero ver Lázaro Castellanos s-mt EPA6238
CA468 Quiéreme mucho G. Roig-A. Rodríguez   EPA6238
CA468 Qué historia Enrique Lazaga s-mt EPA6238
CA468 Sabroseao con la Ritmo Juan Crespo Maza gu-s EPA6238

We have a long review of Sabroseao in our Roots of Timba series.

We'd love to know the exact date of this historic EP, the first example of Ritmo Oriental's dramatic new style and the first recording with the rhythm section of Humberto Perera, Daniel Díaz, Enrique Lazaga and Juan Claro Bravo. Sabroseao can also be found on a compilation called Nuevas ondas en la música cubana.

The Lost Session

CA718 Mi socio Manolo Juan Crespo Maza gu-s  
CA718 Se perdió mi amor Juan Creso Maza gu-s  
CA718 Canto de la felicidad Enrique Lazaga gj-s  
CA718 Amor no dejes que te olvide Enrique Lazaga b-smb  
CA718 Hoy mi día triste Juan Crespo Maza b  
CA718 Déjame demostrarte Ramiro Reyes b  
CA718 Y se baila así Enrique Lazaga s-bt  
CA718 Que se sepa bien, mi amor Juan Crespo Maza gu-s  
CA718 Quién dice? Rodulfo Vaillant rt-dal  

The first 7 tracks were re-recorded for later albums, but the versions from this mysterious early session were apparently never released. Que se sepa bien and Quién dice (La Gorda) can be found on bootleg CDs so they must have made it to vinyl, but we still haven't found the EGREM numbers or photos. Please help!

The LPs of the 70s

The next four albums are all called "Ritmo Oriental" and each has been released by EGREM with multiple covers. Fortunately, they're as much an artistic triumph as they are a discographical disaster. In fact, taken together as a body of work, the could be expected to withstand the test of time better than anything else Cuba produced in the 70s.

If EGREM had seen fit to honor Ritmo Oriental, as they did Los Van Van and Irakere, with a La colección box set, these four albums would have been Volumes II, III, IV, and V, so we'll use those titles.

The Covers

The volumes listed are only the ones we know for sure used these covers. They may well have been used for additional volumes, and several were also used for different groups! It's ironic that EGREM was so sloppy about this because when they put their minds to it they created some extraordinarily good album artwork. (example).

cuban music, musica cubana
used for Vol. II & III

cuban music, musica cubana
used for Vol. III, IV, V

cuban music, musica cubana
used for Vol. II, III

cuban music, musica cubana
used for Vol. III

cuban music, musica cubana
used for Vol. V

cuban music, musica cubana
used for Vol. III

The Music

The next four albums are absolutely indispensable. About 75% of the best up-tempo tracks can be found on these two CD compilations:

1974: Volume II
Areíto LD-3461

CA954 El que no sabe, sabe Roberto Núñez Povea s LD3461
CA954 Quisiera amarte de verdad Ramiro Reyes b LD3461
CA954 Adiós, no estoy loco Humb. Perera/Lazaga s LD3461
CA954 Hoy mi día triste Juan Crespo Maza b LD3461
CA954 Mi socio Manolo Juan Crespo Maza gu-s LD3461
CA954 Tema R.D.A. Caña Ramiro Reyes   ?
         
CA955  Se perdió mi amor Juan Crespo Maza gu-s LD3461
CA955  Déjame demonstrate Ramiro Reyes b LD3461
CA955  María baila el son Rolando Vergara bch-s LD3461
CA955  Canto de felicidad Enrique Lazaga gj-s LD3461
CA955  La señora perorata Juan Crespo Maza s LD3461

We have a long review of Volume II in our Roots of Timba series.

cuban music, musica cubanaOn CD, all the up-tempo tracks from Volumes II and III can be found on the wonderful Historia de la Ritmo, Vol. 1.

Volume I also contains the rarity, Conga No. 6, recorded at the sessions for Volume V, but never released on the LP. See our CD section for more details.

 

1975: Volume III
Areíto LD-3536

CA1098 Yo bailo de todo Rolando Vergara s LD3536
CA1098 Te digo lo que siento A. Miranda/W. Espinosa

LD3536
CA1098 Que crezca la mujer Frank Pérez s LD3536
CA1098  Eternamente nuestro Enrique Lazaga b LD3536
CA1098  La chica mamey Juan Crespo Maza s LD3536
         
CA1099 Ahora si voy a gozar Juan Crespo Maza s LD3536
CA1099 Lágrimas negras Miguel Matamoros b-s LD3536
CA1099 Un matrimonio feliz Roberto Núñez s LD3536
CA1099 Canción a la esposa Sergio Morales b LD3536
CA1099 Y se baila así Enrique Lazaga gu-s LD3536
CA1099 Amor, no dejes que te olvide Enrique Lazaga b-mb LD3536

We have a long review of Volume III in our Roots of Timba series.

1976 - Session CA-1210
cuban music, musica cubana
photo courtesy of Osvaldo Martínez

CA1210 Enséñame tu baile Lola Juan Crespo Maza b-gu   
CA1210 Yo tuve un amor y fui feliz Juan Crespo maza b  
CA1210 Oriente cuna florida Emiliano Ponciano s  
CA1210 La juventud en el campo Perera/Lazaga s  

Enséñame tu baile Lola found its way onto the above-pictured compilation LP, 12 éxitos bailables (Areíto LD-3595). We're desperately looking for a recording of La juventud en el campo, the other up-tempo Ritmo Oriental original of from this session.

January 15, 1977: Volume IV
Areíto LD-3622

CA1389 Tema de saludos amigos Juan Crespo Maza s LD3622
CA1389 Por hacerme caso Rodulfo Vaillant s-mt LD3622
CA1389 Pensamiento Rafael Gómez canción LD3622
CA1389 Pero soy así Tony Lamas s-mt LD3622
CA1389 Pero déjame mirar Enrique Lazaga b LD3622
CA1389 La Ritmo suena Areíto Roberto Núñez son-areíto LD3622
         
CA1390 Qué rico bailo yo Rolando Vergara s-mt LD3622
CA1390 Grandes cosas para tí Juan Crespo Maza s-mt LD3622
CA1390 Qué es lo que hay Enrique Lazaga s-mt LD3622
CA1390 Si te vas no voy a llorar Juan Crespo Maza s-mt LD3622
CA1390 Yo traigo panetela Juan Crespo Maza s-mt LD3622
CA1390 Temo de saludos amigos (reprís) Juan Crespo Maza s-areíto  LD3622

We have a long review of Volume IV in our Roots of Timba series. We got the specific recording date from the liner notes of Cuban Gold 4, which includes the track Yo traigo panetela.

cuban music, musica cubanaLa Ritmo Oriental te está llamando has three of the best songs from Volume IV and three of the best songs from Volume V. See our CD section for more details.

 

 

1977: CA-1391 - Not on LP

CA1391 Longina Manuel Corona b  
CA1391 Yo no me equivoco Roberto Núñez s  
CA1391 Ya llegará la victoria Perera/Lazaga canción  
CA1391 Ésta es tu casa, yo soy tu hermano Ginoris/Montesinos canción  
CA1391 La quinta L. Beethoven    
CA1391 El son claro Calá s-mt  
CA1391 Al que le tocó le tocó Lazaga s  

cuban music, musica cubanaEl son claro and Al que le tocó le tocó are both must-have Ritmo Oriental masterpieces and can both be found, nicely remastered, on QBADisc's Cuban Gold, Volume 4. The whole Cuban Gold series is worth having as it contains any number of rare tracks by a wide range of groups. A third RO track, Yo traigo panetela, is on both Cuban Gold 4 and La ritmo te está llamando.

We found Yo no me equivoco, a great up-tempo track, and La quinta, a fantastically bizarre charanga version of the first movement of Beethoven's 5th Symphony, on a scratchy old cassette tape, so they must have been released on some vinyl record. The other three tracks have yet to be heard by anyone we know.

1978: Volume V
Areíto LD-3766

CA1714  Con el chenche buchenche R. Núñez s-mt LD3766
CA1714 Nena, así no se vale Juan Crespo Maza s-mt LD3766 
CA1714  Y tú qué has hecho Eusebio Delfín canc LD3766 
CA1714  Maritza Victor Lores s-mt LD3766 
CA1714  Tiene nivel Frank Pérez s-mt LD3766 
         
CA1715 La Ritmo te está llamando Tony Calá s-mt LD3766 
CA1715 Juan Primito, dónde tú vas Rolando Vergara s-mt LD3766 
CA1715  Si no hay posibilidad me voy Juan Crespo Maza s-mt LD3766 
CA1715  Corazón Eduardo Sánchez canc LD3766 
CA1715  Una rosa de Francia Rodrigo Prats canc LD3766 
. NEXT TRACK NOT ON LP . . .
CA1715 Conga número seis (on Historia de la Ritmo 1)   LD3766 

click here for our timba.com review with audio samples

cuban music, musica cubanaWe haven't gotten to this album in Roots of Timba, but it's almost unbearably good, especially Con el chenche, Nena, así no se vale, Maritza, and La Ritmo te está llamando -- just to get started. Of these, you can find Con el chenche on Cuban Gold Vol. I, and the others on La Ritmo Oriental te está llamando. Two more important tracks, Tiene nivel and Juan Primito, are a provided by Historia de la Ritmo, Vol. II.

1978-1981 - Not on LP

CA1844 Amor a mi tierra cubana Orlando del Río gj LD3826
LD4080
         
CA2396 Cuidao con la percusión Tony Calá   LD45 762
CA2396 Ay mujer     LD45 762

cuban music, musica cubanaCuidao con la percussion is one of Ritmo Oriental's greatest and most famous songs and can thankfully found on Cuban Gold 2. We've never heard the B-side, Ay mujer. We found the numbers "LD45 762" in Cristóbal's list. It might have been released during a period where 45s were made to be sold at some special festival that occurred in near the end of the decade, possibly Festival de los estudiantes y la juventud where Irakere recorded the live concert that became La colección, Vol. 4.

Amor a mi tierra cubana can be found on two different vinyl compilations.

Personnel Changes: Ritmo Oriental's peak lasted about 18 years, and during that time they had less personnel changes than any other major Cuban band. The most notable change was the addition of Tony Calá as their most prolifici singer and writer, but Tony had already been in the band playing violin for several years. It was only when Juan Crespo Maza was sidelined with a throat operation that Tony was drafted as a vocalist. The rest, as they say, is history.

The LPs of the 1980s

1983: Volume VI - El agua me llevó
Areíto LD-4112

cuban music, musica cubana
CA3473 El agua no me llevó Tony Calá s LD4112
CA3473  Como me gusta el coco Juan Crespo Maza s LD4112 
CA3473  Dicen que sufro Enrique Lazaga s-mt LD4112 
CA3473  Mi amigo Nicolás Juan Crespo Maza s-mt LD4112 
         
CA3474  Barrios de los rumberos Tony Calá gg LD4112 
CA3474  Mía definitivamente Yáñez-Gómez b LD4112 
CA3474  Gladiolas para usted Tony Calá b-s LD4112 
CA3474  Conmigo candela brava Tony Calá gg LD4112 

click here for our timba.com review with audio samples

cuban music, musica cubana

This may not be the original pressing, as it says 1987 on the back and the Areíto number pegs it as being 1983. In any case, it's the first LP with Tony Calá singing, although he had previously sung on the singles El son de claro and Cuida'o con la percusión. The first song has a funny story which might have been a tragic one. The band was on tour when a torrential rainstorm engulfed them and the had to stand on top of the bus to keep from drowning.

Five of these songs can be found on La historia de la Ritmo, Vol. 2. See our CD section for more details.

1985: Volume VII - El baile del azúcar
Siboney LD-338
cuban music, musica cubana

CS371 Baila azúcar Perera-Calá s LD338
CS371 Ana Margarita Rodulfo Vaillant mer LD338
CS371 Advertencia a todos Tony Calá s LD338
CS371 Mi amor te lo doy entero JuanCrespo Maza s LD338
         
CS372 Oye, más no cabe Rodulfo Vaillant s LD338
CS372 No hay regreso Enrique Lazaga s-mt LD338
CS372 Sin apellidos Perera-Calá s LD338
CS372 Estoy nuevamente Tony Lamas s LD338

click here for our timba.com review with audio samples

Areíto was EGREM's Havana label and Siboney was based in Santiago. For some reason, a lot of Havana bands, like Revé, did Siboney records around this time. If you have any theories, please write in! A foto of the cover would also be very welcome!

As mentioned above, this album can be found in its entirety on Guarachando Charanga Show.

1987: Volume VIII - Guarachando
Areíto LD-4392
cuban music, musica cubana

cuban music, musica cubana

session # title composer(s) arranger rhythm LP #
CA4185 Azúcar a granel Perera-Calá Perera s LD4392
CA4185  Bailadores Remberto Bécquer Perera s LD4392 
CA4185  Será mañana, mi amor Lamas-Calá Papo Luca s LD4392 
CA4185  Hay salsa y son para rato Rolando Vergara Lazaga s-mt LD4392 
CA4185  Lo mejor del barrio Juan Crespo Maza Maza s LD4392 
CA4185  Por eso voy a dejarlo A. Pérez-JC Maza Maza s LD4392 
CA4185  Lo siento, ya no me gustas Juan Crespo Maza Maza s LD4392 
CA4185 Baila si vas a bailar Enrique Lazaga Lazaga s LD4392

click here for our timba.com review with audio samples

cuban music, musica cubana

cuban music, musica cubana

All 8 of these tracks, in order, can be found, along with the 8 from the next album, on the indispensable Guarachando Charanga Show CD. See our CD section for more details.

CS330 Avisa por favor Rodulfo Vaillant . .

This rarity, written by the great Rodulfo Vaillant and recorded in Santiago, may or may not have ever been released on Cuban vinyl, but a nice transfer can be found on an obscure CD compilation called Bailexitos 2. Make sure you check carefully because there's another, non-Cuban, compilation series with the same title.

1989 Volume IX - 30 años
Areíto LD-4525
cuban music, musica cubana

cuban music, musica cubana

CA4415 Popurrit de éxitos varios   LD4525
CA4415 La Gioconda Juan Quevedo dz LD4525
CA4415 Treinto años Calá-Lamas s LD4525
         
CA4416 Qué tiene la Ritmo Cándido Fabré mer LD4525
CA4416 Sube a mi cacharrito Juan Crespo Maza s-mt LD4525
CA4416 Azúcar con chocolate Juan Crespo Maza s-mt LD4525
CA4416 Oye, qué me miras Juan Crespo Maza s-mt LD4525
CA4416 Pasen señores, pasen Cándido Fabré gg LD4525

click here for our timba.com review with audio samples

cuban music, musica cubana

cuban music, musica cubana

This was the first album without Tony Calá, (who went to NG La Banda in 1988) but he's listed as the co-composer of the title track. It was released in 1989, although the 30th anniversary would have been July 1988. The second and third tracks can be found on Historia de la Ritmo, Vol. 2.

With Maza's voice and writing back in the fold, Ritmo Oriental might well have shrugged off the departure of Tony Calá, but not the tragic death of genius drummer Daniel Díaz, combined with the drastic changes of the Special Period and the onslaught of timba. There were two interesting timba-esque albums, with a new cast of younger players, around 1995 and various other revivals, the most recent in 2005, with a full horn section, no less!

Finding Ritmo Oriental on CD

About 25% of Ritmo Oriental's music can only be found on vinyl, and so we repeat our battle cry: write EGREM! But while we wait for them to come to their senses and follow the lead of their more business-savvy yuma counterparts at Fania, here's the most efficient way to navigate the maze of CD reissues and make sure you have the other 75%.

To start with, buy the following 4 CDs while you still can. Don't ask questions - just buy them while they're still available. The one silver lining to all this is that the reissuers avoided all boleros, with the result that all 55 tracks on these 4 CDs are pure dynamite.

Historia de la Ritmo, Volume 1
QBADisc QB9007

cuban music, musica cubana

cuban music, musica cubana

Historia de la Ritmo, Vol. 1. begins with the 6 non-boleros from Volume III, plus La Ritmo's most adventurous slow track, Lagrimas negras. Then comes the rare Conga No. 6, which was recorded as part of the sessions for Volume V, but never released on vinyl.

Next come the 8 non-bolers from Volume II. Volume III was probably presented first because Yo bailo de todo is La Ritmo's most famous song.

La Ritmo Oriental te está llamando
Globestyle CDORB 034

cuban music, musica cubana

cuban music, musica cubana

This one has only 10 tracks, and four overlap with our other suggested purchases -- BUT -- any one of the other six tracks is worth the price of the whole album -- three drop-dead masterpieces from Volume IV and three from Volume V.

Historia de la Ritmo, Volume 2
QBADisc QB9008

cuban music, musica cubana

cuban music, musica cubana

La Historia de la Ritmo Volume 2 covers the Tony Calá chapters of the historia. It has 2 songs from Volume V (which fortunately are not on the Globestyle CD), 5 critically important masterpieces from Volume VI that can't be acquired anywhere else, 4 from Volume VII, and 2 from Volume IX. This is really the peak of Tony's career - his singing, showmanship and dancing gradually desclined over the 90s due to health problems, and he tragically stopped writing songs and playing violin altogether when he joined NG La Banda in 1988. But from 79-88, Tony Calá was a musical god -- there's a snowy old video of him singing Cuida'o con la percusión, El agua me llevó and Barrios de los rumberos with a radiant stage presence that reminds me in a subtle way of Jimi Hendrix.

An interesting side-note is that Mi amigo nicolás is the first arrangement of another young violinist who would become well-known to timberos -- David Calzado.

Guarachando "Charanga Show"
ARTEX CD-055

cuban music, musica cubana

cuban music, musica cubana

Guarachando Charanga Show. is absolutely indispensable musically and has the added bonus of being a lot less confusing. It has all of Volume VII and all of Volume VIII, in order!

Cuban Gold
Volumes 1, 2, and 4

cuban music, musica cubana cuban music, musica cubana cuban music, musica cubana

QBADisc's Cuban Gold series has high-quality remasters from many important groups of the 60s, 70s and 80s, and between them, four critically important Ritmo Oriental tracks that can't be found elsewhere. I'd like to tell you that you don't have to buy 3 albums to get 4 songs, but these four songs are simply not to be missed.

Cuban Gold 4 has Tony Calá's brilliant vocal debut, a tribute to la Ritmo's conguero called El son de Claro, the classic Al que le tocó le tocó, quoted by everyone from Issac to Manolín, and Yo traigo panetela, which can also be found on La Ritmo te está llamando. Cuban Gold 2 has one of Ritmo Oriental greatest songs, Cuida'o con la percusión, and Cuban Gold 1, aka Que se sepa, yo soy de la Habana, has Con el chenche buchenche.

rhythm abbreviations (following the Díaz-Ayala convention)

afro : afro cum : cumbia mer : merengue
bch : bachata des : descarga mz: mozambique
b : bolero dz : danzón pch : pachanga
bal : balada dzt : danzonete rt-dal: ritmo dalaela
bb : bomba gg : guaguancó r: rumba
bt: beat gj : guajira s: son
cg : conga gp : guapacha s-mt: son montuno
ch : cha cha chá gu : guaracha sg: songo
chr: charanga lam : lamento sh : shake
cmp : comparsa mb : mambo sim : simalé
miércoles, 23 marzo 2011, 03:31 am