Barretto Pagan, Raymundo, PFC

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Last Rank
Private First Class
Last Service Branch
Service Years
1946 - 1949
Foreign Language(s)
Official/Unofficial US Army Certificates
Cold War Certificate

Private First Class

One Service Stripe

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Home State
New York
New York
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by SFC Edwin Sierra to remember Barretto Pagan, Raymundo, Pfc.

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Contact Info
Home Town
Brooklyn, Spanish Harlem
Last Address
Not Specified

Date of Passing
Feb 17, 2006
Location of Interment
Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

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Ray Barretto  

For nearly 40 years, conguero and bandleader Ray Barretto has been one of the leading forces in Latin jazz. His hard, compelling playing style has graced the recordings of saxophonists Gene Ammons, Lou Donaldson, and Sonny Stitt, and guitarists Wes Montgomery and Kenny Burrell.

   At age 17, he begged his mother to let him quit school and enlist in the Army, where he could escape the racial intolerance he had experienced in the streets of New York City.    

Unfortunately, the military proved no haven from bigotry. The Army was still segregated at the time, he told an interviewer for Paris Free Voice. Being a light-skinned Puerto Rican kid, I was put in the white section. I caught so much flak from mainly Southern GIs, inflicting their prejudices on me. While stationed in Europe, Barretto found refuge in a nightclub run for and by black GIs. All the talk was about Dizzy [Gillespie] and Bird [Charlie Parker] and bebop.

It was very exciting. Particularly influential for Barretto was Gillespies recording of Manteca, which featured Cuban percussionist Chano Pozo. That song blew my mind, Barretto told the Austin Chronicle. It was the basis of my inspiration to become a professional musician.

When he was discharged from the Army in the late 1940s, Barretto bought himself some conga drums and began hitting jam sessions after hours in the nightclubs of Harlem and elsewhere in New York City. Developing a distinctive style of his own, he rubbed shoulders with some of the biggest names in jazz, including Parker and Gillespie; for a few years he played with Jose Curbelos band.

In the early 1950s the mambo was taking New York by storm, rivaling the popularity of bebop. Barretto found himself drawn to the citys Palladium dancehall, home of Tito Puentes hard-driving Latin orchestra. He was particularly impressed with the work of Puentes




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