New York salsa emerged in the 1960s and flourished in the 1970s. Its gritty sound featured the piano playing montunos and accompaniment. The tres was not part of the typical New York salsa band. Nevertheless, certain recordings did feature the tres and some important players on the instrument emerged. When the singer Pete "el Conde" Rodriguez went solo, for example, he made a series of albums for Fania which used the typical Cuban trumpet and tres conjunto format. The same format had previously been employed during this period by Johnny Pacheco (with Pete Rodriguez on vocals).
The role of the tres in the Son style was to play montunos (repeated vamp figures) and melodic passages. Gradually the piano assumed this role within the conjunto format. In the process piano players were heavily influenced by tres players. Larry Harlow acknowledged the influence of Arsenio Rodriguez on his sound. His classic album, "Salsa", feautres a numbers of Aresenio compositions.
In tracing the influence of the Tres on the New York Style a logical place to start is with Arsenio Rodriguez. Aresnio visited New York in 1947 and moved there in 1953 forming the group ARSENIO Y SUS ESTRELLAS. His relocation to New York exposed many musicians to the style he had been experimenting with in Cuba. One is struck when listening to some of Rodriguez's work how modern it sounds (listen to the LPs on the Ansonia label). The space between 70's salsa and some of his work is not that wide. (It is interesting to note that Arsenio's first visit to New York was in the heyday of Charlie Parker and bebop. Arsenio made a record during this period with Chano Pozo who was a member of Dizzy Gillespie's band. Gillespie and Pozo helped to launch the Cu-Bop style. Perhaps Arsenio and Charlie Parker jammed together at some point ?)
The next important figure in the New York style was Johnny Pacecho. In the early 60's his band Pacheco y Su Charanga featured a Charanga-style sound (charanga style is characterized by flute and strings - In 1958 Flutist/band leader Jose Fajardo (1919 - 2001) and his band Fajardo Y sus Estrellas had come to NYC and played at the Paladium. Their Cuban show was a big influence on New York musicians and on Johnny). Pacheco y Su Charanga signed with Alegre records in 1960. He then formed Pacheco y Su Tumbao, changing to a more Conjunto style featuring the tres. It was around this time (1963) that he formed the famous record label Fania with Jerry Masucci. Pete Rodriguez was a vocalist featured with Pacecho in the late sixties. He later went solo (1974) and continued to employ the Cuban style conjunto format featuring trumpet and tres. Slowly a heavier New York conjunto style developed which still can be heard today.
The following is a list of tres players that appear on albums from this period. During this period the tres was often employed to create more of a "Conjunto" or classic "tipica" sound that stood out in NY salsa at the time since it was not the standard sound. This sound consisted of a rhythm section of tres, piano and bass augmented by a trumpet section. The Percussion consisted of bongo and conga (normally without timbales).
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