"Very Few Cd's come close to this one from any era, Manny Oquendo and Andy Gonzalez at their best. A young Herman Olivera is awesome, and Dave Valentin with some of the best flute playing ever recorded. If you have a 1000 salsa cd's and not this one then your collection is missing allot. All Libre stuff is classic, this is the best!!!!"
Conjunto Libre's most accomplished album.
Justo Roteta | Los Angeles, California United States | 07/31/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This album was Conjunto Libre's most accomplished project and runs the gamut from the "Salsa Dura" traditionally associated with this band ("Estoy Como Nunca", "Que Humanidad") to smooth yet swinging Latin jazz ("Little Sunflower"). The best from a truly great salsa conjunto."
An ALL-WONDERFUL Cd with MARVELOUS ARRANGEMENTS, POWERFUL MU
S. | 07/16/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This Manny Oquendo's Conjunto Libre Cd (originally released on Montuno Records, MCD-522) in 1983 is a WONDERFUL music album with a GREAT combination between a SOLID New York salsa sound and a relatively smooth musicality, making it an EXTREMELY balanced album suitable for ANY sort of occasion. It's fairly easy listening, as well as highly danceable and intense at the same time.
This album's content is also very varied, ranging from Puerto-Rican Plena rhythm , to instrumental Latin-Jazz , to different style of Cuban rhythms. Song  is a Charanga-rhythmed tune with an OVERWHELMING Mambo treatment on the arrangements, and the last song is a Guaguancó/Rumba, which then turns into a BURNING-HOT Latin-Jam Session finishing the album IN REAL BEAUTY, all with a STRONG Puerto-Rican New-York salsa feel, of course!
This band has always been famous since it's beginnings in 1976 for adopting a `Trombanga' sound (Trombone salsa band) like the Mon Rivera's, Eddie Palmieri's, and Willie Colón's used to do between the early and mid-60's...
Here you have 4 TOP-NOTCH players on Trombones, with Angel `Papo' Vázquez as a guest on the last tune. Some of the musical passages that go on between the first 4, along with Dave Valentine's Flute make it up for a MINDBLOWING musicality that WILL GUARANTEE TO BLOW YOU AWAY!!!
The shortest song here is 5:50 mins, and the tunes have a lot of musical variation within them, changing slightly the choruses, with PURE TOP-CLASS musical instrumental passages, and ALL types of solos!
Precisely, by calling themselves `Libre' (free), one of the philosophies of this band was to be able to express themselves freely through all sorts of instrumental musical passages and solos...
The opener, Qué Humanídad, a famous Cuban song, includes here some of THE BEST vocals that I've EVER heard from Hermán Olivera! The song talks about how humans are in general, from people's envy, to general curiosity, to getting involved with your life, to criticising you, to treating you for convenience and etc!... Musically, it starts rather tamed and fairly smooth, but check out, bit by bit, how the intensity and the WONDERFUL Trombone arrangements with Valentine's flute build up around the middle of the tune until it gets back to its original chorus with Hermán wrapping it all up IN BEAUTY. GREAT STUFF!...
`Pupi Cantor' Torres now takes over the lead vocals on the album, and Elena,Elena, in the Puerto-Rican Plena rhythm, is an awesome, intense and powerful song that features a rich, fat, heavy Trombone arrangements section with the great Jimmy Bosch soloing (also on Trombone) over it! Wow! What a rhythm and what a DANCEABLE tune it is!... A HIGH POINT on this Cd which will SURELY excite you and ATTACK ALL your senses!...
Báilala Pronto is a Charanga-rhythmed tune (faster than a Cha-Cha-Chá) that includes, ONCE AGAIN, some of the best musical Trombone horn arrangements that I have ever heard of with Dave Valentin doing a GREAT job on Flute throughout the whole of the tune! What a GREAT musical passage, I must say!... As good as it gets!...
Estóy Como Núnca, written by Don Raymat, is a wonderful interpretation of that tune which was the title track from Tito Rodríguez's 1968 recording which included a version of Bilongo [La negra Tomasa] and El agua de Belén with a young Manny Oquendo, as well. I cannot compare the versions, but I can tell you that this one, which is twice longer is TOP TOP-NOTCH!...
Freddie Hubbard's Little Sunflower, in the Latin-Jazz vein is a CLASSY tune, with a fine and catchy Andy González Bass intro opening, a WONDERFUL Trombone introduction and ending with a very relaxed and laid back swing all the way through, and loads of GREAT Jazzy solos! Check out the smooth and subtle Jazzy Trumpet solo by Jerry González (Andy's brother), and the pretty good Jazzy Piano solo by Joe Manozzi (who was the Trumpetist for Tipica 73's first 3 albums, then Los Kimbos, as well as doing both with Frankie Dante's Orquesta Flamboyan...) Would you believe that this tune ALSO contains a SEASHELL solo by Steve Turre!? UNIQUE!...
Arsenio Rodríguez's Llora Timbero [Unión De Réyes] is a STUNNING tune, starting very promisingly in the Afro-Cuban Conga-Drum rhythm of Guaguancó with `Pupi Cantor' singing over it with few Piano riffs at times, and then, believe me, the tune does build up to a SUCH a HARDCORE Rumba (faster paced Son with the Conga-Drums still accompanying in the form of improvisation) with AGAIN, LOADS of solos, and Manny Oquendo's most fiery Timbale solo from the album.
I must also give full credits to `Pupi Cantor' Torres for a GREAT and VERY CHARACTERFUL performance on vocals throughout the whole album!!
With a total play-time of 43:19 mins, this is DEFINITELY GREAT value for money! The only tune some of you may not like is the Latin-Jazz, but for the rest, I wouldn't be worried... Even that tune for me, is MORE than good enough!...
(In other words, GET THIS CD while you can!!...)
Manny Oquendo: Leader, timbales, bongo, guiro, coro, arranger, producer and mixing. Andy Gonzalez: Musical director, bass, claves, coro, arranger, producer and mixing. Jerry Gonzalez: Congas, trumpet, flugelhorn Joe Mannozzi: Piano Dan Reagan: Trombone, arranger  Jimmy Bosch: Trombone, coro Steve Turre: Trombone, arranger  Reynaldo Jorge: Trombone Dave Valentin: Flute, coro Robert Zayas: Stage manager, percussion Tony (Pupy Cantor) Torres: Lead vocal, coro Herman Olivera: Lead vocal on "Qué Humanidad", coro Milton Cardona: Coro Rafael `Felo' Barrio: Coro Oscar Hernandez: Piano on "Llora Timbero" Angel `Papo' Vazquez: Trombone on "Llora Timbero". Louie Cruz: Arrangements  Marty Sheller: Arrangements  "
GET THIS ONE!!
Canuco | New York City | 03/14/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
An outstanding offer by Manny Oquendo & Libre. Very few recordings come close to this one from any era, Conjunto Libre at their best. There in not one bad cut in the entire set. Every one a smoker from front to back. A dancer's paradise. The musicianship is of the highest caliber throughtout with a solid lineup to boot. Jimmy Bosch on trombone plays in the funky Barry Rogers tradition - hot and hard. Steve Turre joins in on this set, lending his cool funk to the mix. He plays the conch shell on, Little Sunflower that is nothing short of amazing. Rounding out the T-bone section is Dan Reagan the lead t-man, he carries the fellas through the difficult passages with a rico suave touch. Dave Valentin on flute smokin' as always. Joe Manozzi on piano is strong and solid. The vocalists are the very talented, Pupi Cantor and a young Herman Olivera doing their thing with flair and sabor. Of course the man himself, Manny Oquendo holding everything together on timbales and bongo. He plays like a man possessed by the beautiful spirit. His style is not the rapid-fire technique type, instead Oquendo plays relaxed and does not waste a single beat, but everything he plays is placed just right and with heat. A master at work. All Libre recordings are highly recommended!!!! This one is high on the list. Get this one.
1. Que Humanidad 2. Elena, Elena 3. Bailala Pronto 4. Estoy Como Nunca 5. Little Sunflower 6. Llora Timbero"