Maestro José Mangual Jr. The oldest son of the innovative and pioneering bongocero of the Machito Orchestra, one José Mangual Sr. (known worldwide as "Buyú",) José Jr. was born and raised in East Harlem, the Spanish Quarter of New York City known as "El Barrio". By the age of fifteen, José Jr. was already playing in local groups.
In 1968, Mangual Jr. was invited to play bongos and sing background vocals for a fledgling orchestra led by a young man named Willie Colon. The lead vocalist for this group was an also young singer named Hector Lavoe. Along with his perennial rhythm section compadre, legendary percussionist Milton Cardona, José would become a part of history, as they made some of the most important recordings in the annals of Nuestra Musica Latina. Still though, Mangual Jr. and his legacy would grow... Taking his talents to a level different from that of his legendary dad, "Joe Jr." showed his skill as a composer, author, and lead vocalist. With Kent Gomez in 1973, Mangual co-authored the song "San Miguel" for Tony Pabon y la Protesta. This song featured him as a lead vocalist. After Willie Colon and Hector Lavoe parted ways to pursue different ventures, it was Jose who took over the musical direction of Lavoe's orchestra. Shortly after this in 1977, Mangual formed his own record label, True Ventures Inc., and released the immortal, " Tribute to Chano Pozo ". This album features the classic recordings, "Campanero" and "Cuero Na' Ma' ". It also established Joe as a lead vocalist to be reckoned with, and a serious record producer. Still, never far from his percussive roots, Mangual Jr. was voted "Bongocero of the Year" for 1978 by the readers of that cornerstone of the New York City Salsa scene, Latin New York Magazine. The 1980's saw Joe Jr.'s fame grow even more, as he became a premier artist for Velvet Records, and further solidified his fan base in South America, Europe and the Orient. His skills as a percussionist, vocalist, composer, and musical director were sought out by many including Juan Luis Guerra, Ruben Blades, Herb Alpert, Dizzy Gillespie, Isidro Infante, Ralph Mercado, David Byrne, Celia Cruz, Safire, Alex Bueno, Ramon Orlando, Mario Bauza, Mongo Santamaria, The Fania All-Stars, Junior Gonzalez, Ismael Miranda, Kristy McNoll, Louie Ramirez, Ray De la Paz, Melcochita, Lita Branda, and many others. Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of José 's career is his constant ability to evolve and refine the sounds of his music. The 1990's saw him forming and leading his potent band "Sarabanda", while still pursuing the projects he always wanted to do. In 1995, Mangual released his long-awaited "Tribute to Chano Pozo Volume II". This album ranks among his finest, and gives listeners a glimpse into the mind of a master musician who grew up in and helped shape the golden, fundamental age of modern Latin music.
In 1998, Joe produced and musically directed Caiman Records' new Salsa and Latin Jazz release, "Son Boricua", by his band of the same name. This session features his original composition, "El Jibarito", which pays homage to the island of Puerto Rico, and his Boricua heritage. The album and group were the recipients of the New York Latin Critics' ACE Award as the Best New Latin Release for 1998-1999. Mangual's 2000 release with "Son Boricua", entitled "Homenaje a Cortijo y Rivera" is a moving, swinging homage to the music of Don Rafael Cortijo and "El Sonero Mayor" Ismael Rivera. What makes this work so compelling and noteworthy is that it marks an even deeper trip, not only into Latin Jazz, but into the panorama of what are the sounds of a Latin New York: the sounds of the streets of "El Barrio". Here, José Mangual Jr. displays all of the attributes of his professional career, from being the Musical Director and a Lead Vocalist (along with the "Smooth One", Mr. Jimmy Sabater,) to being one tremendous composer with his original number, "Boricua Blues". With this release, Mangual, Sabater, and "Son Boricua" captured their second ACE Award on April 20th, 2002 in New York. Just recently, in April of 2003, "Son Boricua" would receive a third ACE Award for their 2002 CD entitled, "Mo!", again with Mangual at the helm. José's new release, "Dancing With the Gods / Bailando con los Santos", is a landmark recording in his career. It is an album that is made "for the dancer". In this work, Mangual incorporates the praises of the Orishas, (the deities of Santería,) into a "super-danceable", Salsa format that everyone can dance to, whether they are a Santero or not. Mangual's musical credits are many and varied. His Discography includes releases such as "Pa' Bailar y Gozar", "Que lo Diga el Tiempo", "Sonero con Clase", "No Se Tu", and many others. His Motion Picture Soundtrack credits include contribution to Lilly Tomlin's classic 1981 comedy, "The Incredible Shrinking Woman". Through these, the works of José Mangual Jr., it becomes so much easier to understand the professional creed of this man and his family: "Melody is for the people to sing to... Rhythm is what makes them move..."
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