From Puerto Rico with Love
A couple of years ago I was watching the Grammys and was impressed by a brief appearance of the Buena Vista Social Club. Next day I rented their video. A wave of nostalgia washed over me. 'This is the way it used to sound' I said to myself. In 1953 I was playing piano at the Happy Hour Bar in Key West. Havana was just a few miles away across the Gulf Stream and Cuban radio stations came in at night. After work I would wander down Duval Street to the Preview Lounge where my friend tended bar. Frank told wonderful stories about Puerto Rico. The weather was always warm, the girls were all beautiful, the beaches were great and every day was party time. In May we took a few days off to visit the Island. At Miami airport, we hitched a ride on a DC 3 with a load of live chickens. The 'few days' turned into 17 years and I didn't leave Puerto Rico until 1970. My first job here was playing piano & accordion wih the quintet at the Caribe Hilton. The show band at that time was led by Cesar Concepcion. The quintet alternated with the band playing dance music before and after the show. It was 50% American 'society' music and 50% mambo, cha-cha, bolero & merengue. No one called it Salsa yet. In the 60's, I was at the Dorado Beach Hotel with Charlie Rodrigues on sax, Raful Martinez on bass and Angel Dueno on drums. Charlie left to front the band at the Sheraton but the trio stayed on. We played together 6 hours a night, 6 nights a week for 11 years. We were so tight that we completed each others sentences like Donald Duck's nephews Huey, Dewey & Louie. In 1970 I left the Island for LA, but that's another story. Returned in 1980 and am still here, residing in Luquillo. My wife Valli and I book music & entertainment for conventions. Still play a few gigs. The songs on this CD are by Rafael Hernandez, Sylvia Rexach, Pedro Flores, El Topo, Bobby Capo, Johnny Coquet and Tito Puente--all Puerto Rican composers. I tried to capture the way this music sounded back in the 60's. Hope you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed recording these great songs. From Puerto Rico with Love, Don Baaska.