Blast From The Past Vinyl Re-Issue: Johnny Sedes “Mama Calunga”

Preorder the vinyl LP now! Ships 8/11/14

Johnny “Juan” Sedes’ 1969 Fonseca Record Mamá Calunga is music formed by Venezuelan traditions, seduced by the New York Latin music scene of the 1960s. Another album from ¡Andale!’s reissue series of the Fonseca label, Mamá Calunga shows that Fonseca’s long reach, represented so far by Latinos of New York, Puerto Rico, and Cuba, extends further here to Venezuela.

Sedes shines here on his hardest to find solo album Mamá Calunga. (The original LP consistently auctions for triple digits.) Recorded in the heart of New York City in 1969, the album features Fonseca’s hand-picked, up-and-coming talent like Ricardo Ray along with veterans like Candido Camero. And this record is a stunner all the way! Packed with Latin dancefloor fillers, Mamá Calunga delivers the goods with killer desgarga, guagaunco, mambo, guajira and jala jala, sure to make heads bob and feet move! This is the first reissue since its original Fonseca release 45 years ago.

Recent interviews with Sedes tell his story as young prodigy in Venezuela, who after tasting the New York Latin scene in an earlier visit, returned in ‘67 to develop his career. He recorded a Vitin Lopez LP, one of the first with “Salsa” in the title, with pianist Ricardo Ray and singer Bobby Cruz, who were on Fonseca’s label. Fonseca saw the opportunity to record Sedes’ music with Ray and Cruz again and so Johnny Sedes And His Orchestra was formed for their Mamá Calunga debut.

With Sedes-blown saxaphone over a cast of later-to-be Latin all-stars that include vocalists Chivirico Davila, Leo Gonzales, and Bobby Cruz, pianist Ricardo Ray, trumpeters Pedro Rafael Chaparro and Don Palmer, saxophonist Mario Rivera, and veteran percussionist Candido Camero, this Fonseca reissue is a gem from the era and a uniquely Venezuelan addition to ¡Andale!’s reissue series.