WILLIE COLÓN — La Gran Fuga/The Big Break

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WILLIE COLÓN - La Gran Fuga/The Big Break cover
4.73 | 3 ratings | 1 review
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Album · 1971


A1 Ghana' E 4:01
A2 Pa' Colombia 5:47
A3 No Cambiare 3:37
A4 Sigue Feliz 4:12
B1 Barrunto 5:52
B2 Abuelita 4:21
B3 Panameña 6:36
B4 Cancion Para Mi Suegra 0:55

Total Time: 34:42


Bass – Santi Gonzalez
Bongos – José Mangual Jr.
Congas – Milton Cardona
Piano – "Professor Joe" Torres
Timbales – Louie "Timbalito" Romero
Trombone [1st] – Carlos Berrios
Trombone [2nd] – Willie Campbell
Vocals [Canta] – Hector Lavoe

About this release

Fania Records ‎– SLP 394 (US)

Thanks to Matt, snobb for the updates


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"El Malo" was still out there, that horrible trombonist and it looks like he is really in the soup this time but the gangster image was just that for Willie Colon, this being his sixth release and what another classic album he created with the formidable Hector Lavoe who many will argue was the greatest Salsa singer of all time. Johnny Pacheco the Fania Label co-founder was behind the scenes directing the recording and Izzy Sanabria created this unforgettable cover that was stuck up all over parts of New York and garnered a bit of attention with the company being asked to tear them down by the FBI and they had to remove the agency's name of the album cover but if one looks close down near the signature you will see the acroymn stood for "Freaks Bureau of Investigation" but the poster did say that his trombone could kill people with the rythmns produced. Willie had released his Christmas album previously, "Asalto Navideno" but the last proper gangster album had been "Cosa Nuestra" and the next after "La Gran Fuga" would be the brilliant "El Juicio" and it is no understatement concerning these albums that all are classics from this period in the late sixties and early seventies when Willie Colon and Hector Lavoe worked together in their late teens and early twenties bringing that excitement and change that youth brings with many of Willie Colon's albums containing his predominately twin trombone line up and being regarded today as templates in modern Salsa from this period. That so many great albums were created is due to the fact that the core band stayed the same throughout with Willie Campbell usually providing 2nd trombone with the addition of Joe "Profesor" Torres on piano and Santi Gonzalez's bass, Milton Cardona, congas, Louie "Timbalito" Romero on timbales and Jose Mangual whacking bongos giving us that Bronx Latin street sound influence which became such an integral part of the bands music.

"Ghana' E" is the first co-written by Willie and Hector with a distinct Bomba influence and of course Hector is is in top form with his vocals and the two Willies trombones are riding along in this quite catchy tune but in the background listen to the brilliant percussion and it is the cowbell and chimes that just add that spice throughout. That slow Son groove is what comprises "Pa' Columbia" but at the break for the chorus when the trombones kick in it becomes pure magic and the space or silence if you prefer is perfect with some great piano from the Profesor included. Bolero is the style for "No Camblare" which is another Willie and Hector composition with quite a nice little twist added for Willie Colon's laid back trombone solo. I love tunes that have just these solo percussion with vocal intros as one really seems to feel tradition but the chorus for "Sigue Feliz" with the band will have you singing with those coros quick, while the percussion just keeps coming in this great little catchy tune and the quality just gets better as with "Barrunto" that follows with all its swing and an even more catchy chorus than "Sigue Feliz" being be the best song on the album. Joe "Profesor" Torres could sure play one wicked Latin piano and one fine example is contained right in this song "Barrunto" and yes the standard just keep coming right up with the homage if you like for Hector's and Willie's grandmothers "Abuelita" but it is Hector who is singing about his which only his vocal delivery and ad-libs could bring to any tune and it is the congas that get the workout for this ones instrumental break. The groove keeps coming with that slow Afro rythmn for "Panamena" and the albums closer is pure Puerto Rican with all the punch and carnival of "Cancion Para Mi Suegra" with the a hoos and yahs from Hector and the coros but it only lasts for 59 seconds.

Essential music with one of the all time best covers that actually was quite cheap to do by Izzy Sanabria but what a great idea. Variety is everywhere with a mix of styles and rythmns containing that street NuYorcian touch that Willie Colon gave to his classic gangster albums with this being right up there with his next Latin masterpiece to follow "El Juicio".

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