El Maestro

In 1963, producer/musician Johnny Pacheco founded the legendary Fania label in New York City, not only becoming one of the pioneering forces behind the emergence of salsa, but also irrevocably altering the Afro-Cuban musical landscape forever. Regarded by many as the Latino equivalent to Motown, Fania gave us, among many, many others, the likes of Ruben Blades, Willie Colon, Celia Cruz, Hector Lavoe, and of course The Fania All-Stars. (The latter's Live at Yankee Stadium was included in the list of recordings preserved in the United States National Recording Registry.) As it took hold of the burgeoning salsa scene, the label's music became an inescapable part of the fabric of Latino New York for decades and established deep roots all over the Spanish-speaking world.

The Dominican-born, New York-reared Pacheco always had a keen eye for discovering and nurturing talent, so when it came time to assemble a solid lineup for his own records, it was practically a given that the level of musicianship would be off the charts. On El Maestro his fluid and enticing arrangements, the incomparable voice of Hector Casanova, and Papo Lucca's tasty piano grooves and licks, are just a few of the elements that make this album a timeless classic. As the kids say, this is the shit. Go buy it. Now.

Highlights: "Las Muchachas", "El Chivo", "Préstame los Guantes", "Yo Quiero Una Mujer", "Yo No Parlevu France".