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Ray Perez

Ramon Perez-Rivas, artistically known as Ray Perez is one of Venezuela's finest multi-instrumentalist musician, bandleader and composer. His involvement in the music world started at age 12 in middle school, playing tuba in the school band that was led by his dad, the music professor. Six year later, in 1965, Ray formed his band Los Dementes (The Crazy); he later also funded other recording salsa bands, like Los Calvos and La Kenya. His prolific career includes dozens of albums with amazing original salsa and cha-cha-cha tracks. Despite the poor support received by commercial radio stations, Ray Perez has been working hard for about four decades to keep alive the sounds of the greatest sounds of the 60s and 70s, he is well known all over the world by those who cater hard salsa, specially in Europe, Mexico and South America. Ray Perez is a living legend of the hard salsa movement.

Los Dementes were the voice of the gente del este, the people of the working class barrios of San Agustin, La Pastora, and the infamously revolutionary and salsa-crazy 23 de Enero. The songs on their debut LP, which translates as “World Alert! The Crazy Men Have Arrived” often began with whistling, horn honking, and the sounds of a class full of loco kids, exploding quickly into raw and exciting descargas. Lightning fast timbales are heard as trombones come on like the horns of an eighteen-wheeler. Ray’s montunos, insistent and full of feeling, turn on a dime into swinging boogaloo breakdowns, serving notice to country-club groups like the massive Billo’s Caracas Boys: the inmates have taken over the asylum.

Ray has passionate followers in Europe, notably in Italy, Germany, France and Spain. Luis Silva, better known as “Melon” of Lobo y Melon, told journalist Alfredo Churion that Ray is a salsa idol in Mexico, where he still plays live on occasion. Colombia has long appreciated Ray’s guaguanco, and I have heard that his version of “Feliz Cumpleanos” is the song of choice at birthday parties in Cali and Barranquilla. But Ray has been little appreciated in the U.S, which save for maybe el Niche and Oscar tends to ignore the critical contributions of countries like Panama, Colombia and Venezuela in the history and corpus of Afro-Antillean music.

For the record, La Salsa Llego con los Dementes (1967) came out long before they were using “salsa” as a marketing term in Nueva York. And if you can find that original LP for sale on Ebay, expect to pay upwards of $200 for it, or for any from that period. As for original pressings of Los Calvos – as a record-seller in Cartagena told me, those are “MI”. Mision Imposible.

Salsomanos are blessed in that Ray made use of a brilliant array of gifted soneros and singers, including the charismatic Perucho Torcat, his partner in crime, who died tragically in Boston at the age of thirty-two, the golden-throated Carlin Rodriguez, and brilliant scatman Calaven (Carlos Yanez), a singer comparable in innovation to Francisco Fellove or Amado Borcela “Guapacha”. Ray himself sings con un feeling muy especial on some of his most powerful songs, such as “Asi Mueren los Valientes,” “Rio Manzanares,” “Emae Emae” and “Adios Madeira”.

His percussion sections featured drum and timbal legend El Pavo Frank Hernandez, Alberto Naranjo, master of Venezuelan folkloric rhythms, Alfredo Padilla, later of La Salsa Mayor, and the great conguero Nene Quintero. If you are suffering from an overdose of salsa matancerizada, just put on one of Ray’s LPs. But be forewarned, as Perucho (QEPD) sings in “El Trigueño Cintura”

Ray Perez is a living legend of the hard salsa movement of the 60s and 70s, who is still today keeping the magic of the greatest salsa alive.

~ Full bio taken from Descarga.com

 

 

Pal' 23

 

 

 

 





Discography
Los Dementes - (Alerta Mundo) Llegaron Los Locos/The Crazy Men on Prodanza (later Velvet) 1966
Los Dementes - La Salsa Llegó con los Dementes on Velvet 1967
Los Dementes - Manifestación en Salsa on Velvet 1967
Los Dementes - Manicomio a Locha! on Velvet 1967
Los Dementes - Primer Aniversario on Velvet 1968
Los Dementes - Soneros Somos on Velvet 1968
Los Dementes - Los Dementes en el 68 on Velvet 1968
Los Dementes - Estamos Caminando on Iglee (USA) 1970
Los Dementes - Psiquiatrico Popular on Velvet 1970
Los Nuevos Dementes - Yo tengo un Guia on Velvet 1971
Los Dementes - Vuelven los Dementes on Discomoda 1973
Los Dementes - Mi Deuda de Amor on Fania 1975
Los Dementes - Estamos en Guerra on Fania 1976
Los Dementes - Yo Soy el Propio Guaguanco on Fania 1977
Los Dementes - Chevere on Fania 1977
Los Dementes - De Locos... on disqueras unidas 1978
Los Dementes - Lindo Amanecer on LD Venezuela 1981
Los Dementes - El Dictador on Promus 1981
Los Dementes - Exitos de Los Dementes on Velvet 1981
Los Dementes - El Trigueño Cintura on Pyra Phon 1990s
Ray Pérez y los Dementes Pura Salsa.... on Discomoda 1996
Los Dementes - El Tiempo Pasa, Pero Mi Salsa Llego on Palacio 2005
Los Kenya – El Kenya on Velvet 1968
Ray Pérez y sus Kenyas - Ra! Rai! on Velvet (later Pyraphone) 1968
Los Kenya - Ronda del Guaguancó on Discomoda 1969
Los Kenya - Los Kenya on Discomoda 1969
Los Kenya - Estamos en todo on Discomoda 1970
Ray Pérez y sus Kenya - Un Nuevo Dia on Pyraphon (Discomoda) 1972
Los Kenya, Ray Pérez - Siempre Afro Latino on Pyraphon 1990s
Los Calvos - Estos son los Calvos on RCA VICTOR 1967
Los Calvos - ...Y que Calvos! on RCA VICTOR 1968
Phidias Presenta a Ray Pérez y su Mae Mae – 1969
Ray Pérez y Perucho Torcat – They Do It on Pyraphon 1970
Ray Pérez y su Orquesta - Perucho y el Loco Ray on Palacios 1971
Ray Pérez y su Orquesta - Aqui Estoy de Nuevo on Palacios 1971
Ray Pérez y su Ritmo – Piano Bar on Discomoda 1972
Ray Pérez y su Orquesta – Muchacho Barrigon on West Side 1972
Ray Pérez - Yo Soy el Rey de la Salsa on Melser 1973
Ray Pérez con el Grupo Casabe on Columbia/CBS 1974
Ray Pérez y su Orquesta – on Pyraphon 1990s
Lo Mejor de Ray Pérez – on Melser (Discomoda) 1974
Lo Mejor de Ray Pérez – on Ghetto 1973-4
Ray Pérez Centenario de Salsa Interpreta Ray Pérez on Sonoramico 1999
Ray Pérez Anabacoa on Sonoramico 2000
Ray Pérez Exitos de Ray Pérez on Sonoramico 2005


Biography taken from descarga.com, pictures courtesy of Amazon.com, Herencialatina.com. Videos powered by Youtube.com

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