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Conguero and Bandleader Ray Barretto Dead at 76

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New York, NY - February 17, 2006 - Family spokesperson George Rivera announced this morning that Ray Barretto died at the Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, N.J. at 5 a.m. Annette Rivera (Brandy) who had been a constant by his side since he was taken to the hospital late last month was taken home to rest. We will get more information from the family later.

For nearly 40 years, conguero and bandleader Ray Barretto has been one of the leading forces in Latin jazz. His hard, compelling playing style has graced the recordings of saxophonists Gene Ammons, Lou Donaldson, Sonny Stitt, and guitarists Wes Montgomery and Kenny Burrell.

Born April 29, 1929, in Brooklyn, Barretto is one of the most prolific and influential Latin percussionists in the history of modern jazz. With a musical heritage as deeply rooted in the bebop jam sessions held in Harlem during the late-'40s as in his Puerto Rican ancestry, Barretto has spent over four decades refining the integration of Afro-Caribbean rhythms with the improvisational elements of jazz. Coincidentally, it was the tune “Manteca" recorded by Gillespie with Chano Pozo on percussion that drove Barretto to music. And it was a version of that same tune that became Barretto's first recording with Red Garland.

Few artists have been as successful over the years at fusing these two genres as Barretto, an undisputed master of this style. A pioneer of the salsa movement, Barretto achieved international superstardom and released nearly two dozen albums with the Fania label from the late-'60s until salsa's popularity peaked in the mid-1980's.

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