Fania All-Stars

Live at the Cheetah, Vol. 1

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Recorded live at New York's premier discotheque with the usual, stellar All-Stars lineup, the groove is incessant, the mood exultant, and the players palpably happy with the audience and themselves as they exchange licks. The tunes are a bit long -- "Quitate Tu," the closer, is a 16-minute jam session in which the band members one by one contribute lyrics, to the delight of the audience. Ray Barretto's "Descarga Fania" features a lovely piano break and some inspiredly raucous horn playing (a nice contrast to the tightly arranged horn charts one usually hears), and Cheo Feliciano's lead vocal on "Anacaona" soars. Decades later, still the first salsa recording to reach for -- ultimate party music played by the masters.

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