Pan Con Salsa by El Afrocombo. Colombian Salsa reissued by Vampi Soul, originally recorded by Famoso and Codiscos.
Although Pete Vicentini’s El Afrocombo did not have the overwhelming commercial and international success of Fruko y sus Tesos, Joe Arroyo y La Verdad or Grupo Niche during the height of Colombian salsa in the 1970s and 80s, Pedro “Pete” Luis Vicentini del Valle (born in 1946) and his combo did have a popular following among fans in the Atlantic and Caribbean coastal areas of Colombia (especially in his home town of Barranquilla) and consequently, Vicentini has won the respect and admiration of many salsa aficionados for his long career of excellent performances and recordings, plus his professionalism and artistic quality as musical director, composer, bassist, pianist and arranger. In addition to founding what would become El Afrocombo, Vicentini was associated for several decades with the popular singer Jackie Carazo and was a member of Carazo’s El Clan Antillano as well as Chico Cervantes y su Sonora Caliente.
“Pan Con Salsa” is Vicentini and El Afrocombo’s first long play and was released in 1971. As the title (and humorous cover) suggest, the majority of selections on the record are in the salsa genre that was gaining steam at the time in South America. In reality, though, the album includes Vicentini’s native costeño rhythms like cumbia and porro as well (on the tunes ‘Barranquilla, sol y cumbia’ and ‘Tus lindos ojos’). The LP has its own lively ‘combo’ sound in the plucky brass section (two trumpets and two saxes), plus the always bright and happy piano stylings of Willy Newball and of course the prominent bass playing, expert direction and arrangements of Vicentini. Additionally, the record contains the band’s first hit, ‘El huevo’, which is a cover version of Peruvian vocalist Félix Martínez’s popular 1971 tune in the guajira genre with Lima’s Los Girasoles, ‘Ese huevo se pasó’. In addition, there are some super hot original salsa tunes like ‘Mira muñeco’ and ‘La fiesta del mar’, a funky boogaloo cover of Tito Puente’s ubiquitous ‘Oye cómo va’ (with a cool clavinet solo), a Puerto Rican style bomba written by Carazo, and the title track, composed by Vicentini, which is a frenetic descarga (jam session) with lots of tasty brass solos, in-the-pocket piano tumbaos (riffs) and break-neck percussion work-outs. This album is definitely a persuasive argument for including the unjustly obscure El Afrocombo in the pantheon of hot Antillean-inspired bands from Barranquilla and proof that Colombia’s Caribbean coastal region was instrumental in pioneering the popularity of domestically produced salsa there in the 1970s, helping it spread into the interior and from there internationally by the 80s and 90s.
Review by Pablo Yglesias aka DJ Bongohead
A2 Barranquilla, Sol Y Cumbia
A3 Mira Muñeco
A4 Oye Como Va
A5 A La Fiesta Del Mar
B1 Bomba Pa' Los Cueros
B2 La Bailadora
B3 Tus Lindos Ojos
B4 Pan Con Salsa