One of the greatest duos in Salsa, no make that Latin Music in general and always with a jazz twist to compliment proceedings. Richie Ray and Bobby Cruz started together and stayed that way till right now. Richie or Ricardo as he was more termed in his early days was a pianist but one other thing Richie Ray did was direct the music with his own contempary approach with Bobby Cruz the vocalist often assisting Richie with arrangements. One thing that always gives a Richie Ray album its own distinct colour is both artists often together wrote the majority of the material themselves and neither were shy to incorporate new sounds to their approach to predominately Afro Cuban rythmns which of course under-pinned their music and at this time in 1966 we have their first album on Alegre Records with that new music included and all the Latins as well as some of us others were getting into the Boogaloo but at this time "Bugaloo" was the term used. Richie is often regarded as the as the man who not only came up with the term Boogaloo but Salsa as well later in his career and with already five albums recorded under his belt on the Fonesca Records label, Richie felt they were not paying or promoting him enough and went to Al Santiago's Alegre Records for nine albums with "On The Loose" being the first. Plenty of Jazz is one of the main components within the album with not just Boogaloo and Afro Cuban but with the addition of Doc' Cheatham on one of the two trumpets you have a more standard Jazz approach with his technique but still a Latin flavour is obtained by him throughout. Not only do we have the great Bobby Cruz singing lead vocals we have as well the great Chivirico Davila who was actually Bobby's major influence to his vocal approach and both additionally with Richie Ray's assistance providing coros. Surprisingly there is only eight members in the band not counting vocalists with four on percussion, ( congas, bongos,cowbell, timbales and trap drums) with Russel 'Sky' Farnswoth on acoustic bass, the two trumpet players being Doc Cheatham and Pedro Rafael Chaparro with Richie or Ricardo Ray on piano but a full sound is present throughout on this wonderful debut for Alegre Records back in 1966..
Eleven tracks were recorded with two instrumentals by Charlie Parker and Noro Morales included but to get things underway it is that new stuff "Danzon Bugaloo" with a "Whipped Cream " topping by none other than Herb Alphert being used to add spice to this sped up danzon with great results. The follower "El Senor Embajador" is straight salsa/son tune with Chivirico doing lead with that grasp that he had over any tune with his vocal approach and improvs that he injected into the songs and on the next Bobby Cruz sings beautifully the bolero "No Me Dejes" with a beautiful muted trumpet solo from Pedro Chaparro with the addition of Richie tinkling that piano superbly to provide that neccesary romance element. Jazz is what "Suite Noro Morales" contains with a Hard Bop approach to the composition with Richie Ray showing us what they taught him at the Julliard School of Music to great effect and Doc Cheatham gives us one straight bop trumpet solo with an introspective Richie returning to finish the number off. The diversity of music styles contained within the album are one of the major drawcards with "Guanguaco In Jazz" containing one great belter of a timbale solo form Mike Collazo all mixed in with screaming trumpet, Chiviricos frantic vocal at times and Richie Ray's piano throughout this great little dancing driver of a number. The quality just keeps coming with the next two "Se Que Te Vas" and ""Azucure Y Bongo" but the boogaloo is back to great effect with "Lookie Lookie" and of course the title is what is repeated in English when the tune hots up with a little ripper of a trumpet solo from Pedro Chaparro injected. The Charlie Parker tune "Swedish Schnapps" is given the Richie treatment next, containing wonderful solos from Richie Ray and Doc Cheatham but my hat goes off to to the conguero Joaqin Dilonis when his turn comes. The last two numbers, "Echando Candela" and "Yare Chango" are just more of that Richie Ray quality with both being written by him and Bobby Cruz.
A real collectors album and a great one at that, from a time when music really did go through a profound change and this album is no exception with the introduction of "The Bugaloo", ala Richie Ray, with the able assistance of his life long partner in music Bobby Cruz.