The party happened last week, but today's the birthday of one Juan Pablo Pacheco, one of the major architects of classic Fania salsa.
It took me ages to realize Pacheco was Dominican (in so many ways salsa was popularly coded as Cuban-Puerto Rican). And to fully appreciate what an outlier he was.
Not only was his dad a bandleader for the Trujillo-sponsored (but nonetheless jamming) Orquesta Santa Cecilia, but he arrived in NY in the 1940s, before most other Dominican families, and his family integrated into a community of musicians in one of the Golden Eras of Latin music -- mambo!
The man is still performing!
A while ago, he talked about a memoir he was writing, one that would cover his formation and the incredible innovations in sound recording, stagecraft and image management that shaped some of the most enduring New York musical products of the century. I have yet to see any sign of the completed book, but it's one I'm dying to read.
In any case, here's a little taste of Pacheco at his prime, Fania All Stars in their African tour doing "En Orbita." Check how he conducts the band with his whole body, like a rumbero eliciting the drum beats with hips, feet and shoulders.
Feliz cumple, maestro!
[pix of Celia and Johnny via mog.com]