“Canto Abacua” by Ray Barretto
Here’s one of my all-time favorite Latin songs. The Ray Barretto Orchestra, doing “Canto Abacua” (1975). Superb music from suburb performers. Great harmonies, solos and jazzy progression. I saw them perform this piece twice in the 70’s. Once in Los Angeles, and once in Panamá. The singer, Ruben Blades, was a classically trained musician from Panamá. Starting in the 1980’s, Blades became a film and TV actor (“The Super,” “X-Files”), mostly in the U.S. He usually projects charm, dignity and warmth.
In the 70s, salsa music took an explicit Afrocentric turn. It was already an Afro-Caribbean form, but it began to bring these elements to the surface, putting African words and sounds in the songs. “Canto Abacua” is about a midnight spiritual musical gathering, inspired by the Cuban Abakua secret society, which itself had Nigerian roots.
The rare video is from a live performance. You’ll videos of this song with better sound quality, but they’re canned from the album. This one was live!!!!