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ยกCocinando! Fifty Yea rs of Latin Album Cover Art

PABLO ELLICOTT YGLESIAS FOREWORD BY IZZY SANABRIA

PRINCETON ARCHITECTURAL PRESS NEW YORK


PUBLISHED BY PRINCETON ARCHITECTURAL PRESS 37 EAST SEVENTH STREET NEW YORK, NEW YORK 10003 F O R A F R E E C ATA L O G O F B O O K S , C A L L 1 . 8 0 0 . 7 2 2 . 6 6 5 7 . V I S I T O U R W E B S I T E AT W W W. PA P R E S S . C O M . © 2005 PRINCETON ARCHITECTURAL PRESS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED PRINTED AND BOUND IN CHINA 08 07 06 05 5 4 3 2 1 FIRST EDITION N O PA R T O F T H I S B O O K M AY B E U S E D O R R E P R O D U C E D I N ANY MANNER WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION FROM THE PUBLISHER, EXCEPT IN THE CONTEXT OF REVIEWS. E V E R Y R E A S O N A B L E AT T E M P T H A S B E E N M A D E T O I D E N T I F Y O W N E R S O F C O P Y R I G H T. E R R O R S O R O M I S S I O N S W I L L B E CORRECTED IN SUBSEQUENT EDITIONS. PROJECT EDITOR: MARK LAMSTER A S S I S TA N T E D I T O R : S C O T T T E N N E N T DESIGN: DEB WOOD

SPECIAL THANKS TO: NETTIE ALJIAN, NICOLA BEDNAREK, J A N E T B E H N I N G , M E G A N C A R E Y, P E N N Y ( Y U E N P I K ) C H U , RUSSELL FERNANDEZ, JAN HAUX, CLARE JACOBSON, JOHN K I N G , N A N C Y E K L U N D L AT E R , L I N D A L E E , J O H N M C G I L L , K AT H A R I N E M Y E R S , J A N E S H E I N M A N , J E N N I F E R T H O M P S O N AND JOSEPH WESTON OF PRINCETON ARCHITECTURAL PRESS — K E V I N C . L I P P E R T, P U B L I S H E R L I B R A R Y O F C O N G R E S S C ATA L O G I N G - I N - P U B L I C AT I O N D ATA Y G L E S I A S , PA B L O E L L I C O T T, 1 9 6 4 C O C I N A N D O : F I F T Y Y E A R S O F L AT I N A L B U M C O V E R A R T / PA B L O E L L I C O T T Y G L E S I A S . P. C M . INCLUDES BIBLIOGRAPHICAL REFERENCES AND INDEX. I S B N 1 - 5 6 8 9 8 - 4 6 0 - X ( A L K . PA P E R ) 1 . S O U N D R E C O R D I N G S — A L B U M C O V E R S — U N I T E D S TAT E S . 2 . P O P U L A R M U S I C — U N I T E D S TAT E S — H I S T O R Y A N D C R I T I C I S M . 3 . P O P U L A R M U S I C — L AT I N A M E R I C A — H I S T O R Y A N D CRITICISM. I. TITLE. NC1883.U6Y49 2004 741.6’6’09045—DC22 2004006366


FOREWORD: IZZY SANABRIA. . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 INTRODUCTION. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 MAMBO MANIA. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 C U B O P. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 2 ORIZA. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 V I VA S O U L . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 2

Contents

É C H A L E S A L S I TA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 1 2 O Y E C O M O VA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 5 0 OH, MEU BRASIL. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 170 BARRIO NUEVO. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 200

D I S C O G R A P H Y. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 3 0 B I B L I O G R A P H Y. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 3 7 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 238 CREDITS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 239


menaces her from on high. Dynamic layout and bold colors save this from the heap of laughable “lounge” covers so in vogue in the 1990s. The starkly affecting Pachanga con Puente shows percussionist extaordinaire Tito Puente heralding a would-be dance craze (the pachanga) with his futuristic

echotone, the first fiberglass conga. Joe Cuba was par ticularly pleased with the adjacent cover, an Embajador Records bootleg that shows him with his

POPULAR DANCE MUSIC

trend-setting, homemade conga rack which, with the ingenious help of some household plumbing, allowed

1940s–1960s

the conguero the freedom and visibility afforded by playing in a standing position.

During the 1940s and 1950s, independent labels that

In the early days, Latin independents used an arse-

catered specifically to Latino audiences tended to fea-

nal of graphic (often racist) caricatures and nostalgic folk

ture stiff por traits of musicians or color ful illustra-

references to poke fun at Latinos in a naive yet visually

tions that condescendingly harped on the perceived

arresting way. (See the depiction of the blind Afro-Cuban

primitive nature of the music. Though they may have

composer Arsenio Rodriguez on his album Sabroso y

cheapened the product, in retrospect we can be

caliente.) There were also plenty of cheesy deluxe pho-

thankful for the window into the past these covers

tos, such as the one used on the exploitative Charlie

now provide.

Palmieri bootleg, Lo Ultimo. Meanwhile, major labels

Debonair Cuban heartthrob Desi Arnaz embodied

that featured Latin music, notably RCA and Capitol,

the Hollywood ideal of the Latin Lover: light-skinned

switched from the cartoon illustration-style used on

enough to be non-threatening to white American wom-

albums for Beny Moré and bandleader Xavier Cugat to

anhood, but good enough at covering darker-skinned

the modern “glamour” photographic shots that swept

Miguelito Valdés’ hit “Babalú” to be convincing on

the advertising world in the 1950s. Havana, 3 a.m. epit-

stage. On the cover of this 78 RPM record of the song,

omizes this approach. While conveying received notions

a “primitive” font zig-zags across a black field as Desi

of Latin primitivism, flamboyance, drama, and sensuality,

stands improbably freeze-framed in the midst of a drum

it effectively sets a mood and assures the prospective

solo. More exotic is Voice of the Xtabay, in which the

buyer that a spicy, taboo-breaking evening is in the

“Peruvian Princess of the 20 Octaves,” one Yma

offing. Watermelon Man!, featuring the eponymous

Sumac (Amy Camus backwards, anyone?), strikes a

crossover hit penned by Herbie Hancock and made

dramatic Technicolor pose while a savage stone idol

famous by Mongo Santamaría, was a precursor to the

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heady combo of soul and Latin that became “boogaloo”

ring Latin musicians. The narrative, about a missing

in the late 1960s. The intimate portrait of the glamorous

tape, was “a goof,” according to Sanabria, but was

white cover girl is pure Madison Avenue swank, the title

ingenious in that it demanded that the buyer acquire the

racist kitsch, but somehow this juxtaposition manages to

other volumes from the series to resolve the story. Another young and multi-talented designer followed

convey the thoroughly modern mix within. Izzy Sanabria burst into this naive, patronizing, and

soon after, helping to raise the stakes in Latin album

tacky design world like a cleansing flood. His desire was

aesthetics. Ely Besalel, originally from Colombia but

to banish the generic spot illustration covers (see the

raised in Brooklyn, trained himself to draw figures on

billboardlike Discoteca Latina) and boxing-style dance

the long subway rides to school, ultimately studying

posters that were the norm. As a child, Sanabria was

graphic design in college. He owed his start to a lot of

always copying product labels in his mother’s kitchen and

hard work and a little luck: “I was a waiter in the Catskill

putting on plays with boyhood friend and fellow artist and

resorts as a teenager. One night I was hitching a ride

designer Waler Velez. After a stint in the army and as a

and a station wagon comes by just filled with Latino

professional dancer in barrio-area clubs, Sanabria worked

guys and instruments. It was Joe Cuba. We drove

in the advertising world, honing his skills as a packager.

around a bit, had a laugh, then they dropped me off and

His first cover, Pacheco y su Charanga con Elliot

Cuba said ‘Listen man, every night after we play the

Romero, designed in 1961, was for Al Santiago’s fledg-

Pines, we go jam at Grossinger’s. Other musicians fall

ling Bronx label Alegre. Bold in orange and black, that

by, it’s a gas.’ Some years after the Catskills incident,

seminal cover elevated the level of artistry in Latin

when I was showing my work at [the record label]

record design. Here, Pacheco’s silhouette brings to

Roulette, Joe Cuba walks in and yells ‘You!’ He remem-

mind an African sculpture in ebony. Sanabria con-

bered me! That’s how I got to do work for his label,

sciously chose to use fine art over photography, driven

Tico.” Commissions for stalwarts like Celia Cruz, Jimmy

by his belief that a crafted symbolic representation of

Sabater, and Tito Puente followed. For these artists,

the bandleader would stand out more than a photo-

Besalel provided a unique vision that had the comfort of

graph: “The album cover was like a woodcut of Pacheco,

familiarity but also something of an outsider feel—

and it captures him perfectly in all his skinny, energetic

Cuban Dance Festival is a vibrant example of his artistic

essence. To this day, he wears that image made in gold,

sensibility. “I never accepted things at face value, I

around his neck. . . . The little imperfections and extra

never ‘designed down,’” says Besalel. “I liked to experi-

lines in it gave the whole thing an electrical movement,

ment. I never lived in el Barrio, and I didn’t feel obligated

which is the way he moved on stage.”

to buy [the prevailing Latin aesthetics of the day], or to

Other assignments for Alegre followed, including

crossover into the mainstream either. I was unencum-

The Alegre All-Stars Vol. 3: “Lost & Found,” which fea-

bered by those expectations.

tured an unprecedented full-cover comic strip story star-

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Cocinando!, Fifty Years of Latin Album Cover Art  

Cocinando!: Fifty Years of Latin Album Cover Art draws together the most beautiful, sexy, colorful, innovative, and creative Latin record co...