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Bobby Paunetto: Latin Vibes

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Bobby Vince Paunetto
Vibraphonist Bobby Vincent Paunetto recorded only five known albums. El Sonido Moderno (1967), Paunetto's Point (1974), Commit to Memory (1976), Composer in Public (1996) and Reconstituted (1999). As a composer and arranger, Paunetto was highly regarded by all the Latin greats.

Born in 1944, Paunetto began playing vibes at 17 and became friends with vibraphonist Cal Tjader. He studied at Boston's Berklee College of Music from 1969 to 1973. In 1979 Paunetto was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and gave up the vibes in 1981. Despite his illness growing progressively worse, he continued to compose and conducted just two albums in the 1990s. 

Paunetto was born in Brooklyn to an Italian and Catalonian family. The Paunettos soon moved to the Bronx, where he experienced his mother's fondness for signing and dancing. His family spoke English at home, but his mother spoke enough Spanish that she  wrote lyrics to some of his singles. In the 1960s, Paunetto became familiar with the cha-cha-cha, the boogaloo and salsa through his brother, Ray, who danced regularly at the Palladium.

Paunetto's first album was very cool, featuring mostly cha-cha-chas and boogaloo. Paunetto's Point is much jazzier, featuring Tom Harrell (tp,flhrn); Ed Byrne (tb,v-tb); Billy Drewes (sop,as,ts); Todd Anderson (fl,ts)' Ronnie Cuber (fl,b-cl,as,bar); Bobby Paunetto (vib,p,el-p,cowbell); John Marrero (p,el-p); Andy Gonzalez (b,perc); Tom Sala (d); Fred Munar (timb,chequere,bell tree); Jerry Gonzalez (cga,quinto,chequere,perc); + guests : Mario Rivera (fl-ts,bar); Charles Burnham and Alfredo De La Fe (vln); Ashley Richardson (viola); Ronald Lipscomb (cello); Manny Oquendo (perc); Johnny Rodriguez (perc) and Milton Cardona (perc).

Commit to Memory is spectacular, with strong arrangements. It features Tom Harrell (tp,flhrn); Glenn Drewes (tp); Ed Byrne (tb); Billy Drewes (ts,as,sop); Todd Anderson (ts,fl); Ronnie Cuber (bar,b-cl,fl); Bobby Paunetto (vib,p); Eddy Martinez and Armen Donelian (p);Jon Kass (vln,vla); Mike Richmond (b); Abraham Laboriel (el-b); Tom Sala (d); Frankie Malabe (cga); Fred Munar (timb); Guests: Gary Anderson (fl,sop); Steve Slagle (fl); Paul Moen (sop); Justo Almario (as,sop); John Scofield (g) David Eyges (cello); Eddie Rivera (b); Doug Florence (d); Gene Golden (bata-d); Steve Thornton (perc); Milton Cardona (perc); Andy Gonzalez, Jerry Gonzalez (perc); Orpheus Gaitanopoulos and Bretton Scott (vocal color-2)

A shame Bobby Paunetto wasn't able to compose and arrange dozens more albums. He had a gorgeous touch. Paunetto died in 2010.

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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
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