Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music


FAJARDO, José Antonío

(b 18 October 1919, Guane, Pinar del Río, Cuba; d 11 December 2001, Jersey City NJ of an aneurysm) Flautist, arranger, composer, producer, leader of a charanga of flute, strings and rhythm section with voices, the band christened his All-Stars. Tutored by his father from an early age, he moved to Havana '33, there joined the police, then the army, was also employed in law courts and recommenced the flute '42, performing with various orchestras including Paulina Alvarez (1912-1965), Neno González, Antonio María Romeu (1876-1955), Arcaño y sus Maravillas. He formed his own charanga band Sept. '49, struggled at first, but career took off with cha cha chá craze in Cuba '53. The band made two volumes of Danzones Completos mid-'50s for Puchito (reissued on Antilla '90s); Cuba (aka Cuban Cha Cha Chá) '56 on Tico (reissued '96) featuring revered conguero Tata Güines (b Federico Arístides Soto, 30 June 1930, Güines, Cuba; d 4 February 2008, Havana: he joined Fajardo's All-Stars early '50s, to Venezuela with them '56; resided in NYC '57-9, then returned to Cuba '59; worked as a soloist in major Havana cabarets; joined band Los Amigos; led his own band; co-headlined on Cuban All-Stars album Pasaporte '95 on Enja). Singer, arranger, prolific composer Rudy Calzado (b Pedro Calzado, 27 Nov. '29, Santiago de Cuba, Oriente province, Cuba) had joined the All-Stars '52; went on to work with Enrique Jorrín (while the bandleader was based in Mexico mid-50s); after relocating to the USA, worked with Orquesta Nuevo Ritmo, Johnny Pacheco, Belisario López, Mongo Santamaría, Alegre All-Stars, Machito, the two Titos (Rodríguez and Puente), Lou Pérez, La Playa Sextet, Mario Bauzá '85-93 and others. Fajardo signed with Panart for series of LPs late '50s-64: Cha Cha Chá In Havana, Una Noche En Montmartre, Fajardo At The Havana-Hilton, Ritmo De Pollos, Saludos From Fajardo, Fajardo And His All-Stars Vol. 6, Let's Dance With Fajardo, Sabrosa Pachanga, Fajardo In Japan, Cuban Jam Session (the last volume in the label's notable descarga series).

To meet the massive demand in Cuba late '50s, he created three Fajardo orchestras. He was asked to perform '59 at the Waldorf Astoria for John Kennedy's presidential campaign, causing more uproar among the Latin community than the Democrats: a gig at the Palladium NYC was quickly arranged. The charanga/pachanga fad was in full swing when, after gigging in Japan, he stayed in NYC '61 together with güiro/timbales player Osvaldo 'Chi Hua Hua' Martínez (b c'20, Cuba; d early '80s, NYC; went on to work with Santamaría, Pupi Legarreta, Sonny Stitt, Ray Barretto, Kako, Alegre All-Stars, Pacheco, Willie Bobo, Don Gonzalo Fernández, Mike Pérez, Israel 'Cachao' López, Julito Collazo, Lou Pérez, Javier Vázquez, others; made classic Latin jam sets Descarga Cubana Vol. 1 '66 and Latin Cuban Session Vol. 2 c'67 on Fonseca; both compiled on Descarga Cubana '91 on Palladium; co-led Orquesta Metropolitana on New Horizons '80 on Ansonia).

The remainder of the musicians returned to Cuba, Félix Reina (violinist, composer, arrrranger; b 21 May '21, Trinidad, Las Villas, Cuba) assumed leadership, renamed band Estrellas Cubanas with future Orquesta Broadway co-founder Eddy Zervigón occupying flautist's position; meanwhile Fajardo settled in Miami. Contributed tracks to Las Charangas -- Pacheco, Palmieri, Fajardo '61 on Al Santiago's Alegre label; made Dance La Pachanga Con La Latino Charanga '62 on Tico with prominent cha cha chá composer Rosendo Ruiz Jr (b 16 Oct. '18, Havana); recorded two LPs for Columbia: Mister Pachanga '62 and Sabor Guajiro '63, both reissued on Sony Tropical '95-6. He ran separate charangas in Miami and NYC '63, disbanding the former when relocating to NYC, taking pianist/arranger Sonny Bravo (see Típica 73 entry) with him; Bravo departed when Fajardo relocated to San Juan '65; late '60s material collected on Fajardo y su Charanga '91 on Kubaney. Participated in Tico-Alegre All Stars Recorded Live At Carnegie Hall Vol. 1 '74 on Tico. He led a flute and rhythm section quintet in Miami '74 including pianist Alfredo Rodríguez (b '36, Havana), augmented by violinists for touring, incl. brother Alberto Fajardo and Pupi Legarreta. LPs on Coco incl. Fajardo y sus Estrellas del 75 and Fajardo '76 -- La Raiz De La Charanga 'Charanga Roots', both made in Miami with bass, four violins, two singers, timbales, güiro, Rodríguez on piano, Tany Gil on conga; 'Selecciones Clasicas' Recorded 1977, new recordings of hits, made in Miami and NYC with six violins included the young Cuban Alfredo de la Fé (who sessioned on Fajardo's next three LPs '78-80), Bravo on piano; El Talento Total '78, made in NYC and produced by Ray Barretto. He switched to Fania for Las Tres Flautas -- Javier y su Charanga '80 with Javier Vázquez's band, flutes of Fajardo, Legarreta, Pacheco, Chi Hua Hua on güiro; Señor ... Charanga! '80, with lead vocalist Cali Aleman, prod. by Vázquez; Pacheco y Fajardo '82 with Chi Hua Hua; Hoy y Mañana '84. Also appeared on Alfredo Valdés Jr y su Charanga '82 on Toboga, prod. by Roberto Torres; Pepe Mora's Tributo al 'Beny' '83 on Golden Notes; jam session Maestro de Maestros Israel López 'Cachao' y su Descarga '86 on Tania and Fania All Stars' Viva La Charanga '86. Sessioned with Louie Ramírez and his Latin Jazz Ensemble on Tribute To Cal Tjader '87 on Caimán; on Charanga Ranchera '89 on the Mayor label directed/ arranged by Alfredo Valdés Jr. After successful chemotherapy for cancer '94 he came back on a third Africando album Gombo Salsa '96 on Stern's.