Though Linares has come to recent international fame through his work with William “Quantic” Holland, he was already quite popular and famous in his adopted countries of Colombia and Venezuela in the 1970s and 80s during the salsa boom. However, his career began in Lima, backing timbalero Ñico Estrada at age 17 in 1961, and Alfredito’s first notable recording as a sideman was a few years later on the now legendary ‘El Combo de Pepe’ album for IEMPSA/Odeon. Subsequently, Linares would advance his career by recording two fabulous records under his own capable leadership as Alfredo Linares Y Su Sonora at the end of the decade for the MAG label.
These releases capitalized on recent developments in New York Latin music, namely Latin jazz, boogaloo, descarga (jam session) and what would later be marketed as “salsa” with roots in the Cuban guaguancó and guaracha genres. One can hear direct inspiration coming from Joe Cuba, Ricardo Ray, and Eddie Palmieri, especially on the first album, ‘El Pito’, and yet by the second record, there are plenty of original tunes as well. More importantly there is a ‘swing’ and assertiveness to the playing (and arrangements) that prove every bit as authentic, tough and danceable as their New York inspirations. As Linares himself recounts, “In that era, we fought against a generation that was half-blind, because the people who understood what we were doing were few.
We had to fight hard for our space in Perú, that’s where the swing comes from.” That special ‘swing’ also emanated from Linares’ ace backing band, which happened to be a talented stable of MAG studio musicians who all understood Cuban and jazz music: percussionists Mario Allison and Coco Lagos, bassist Joey di Roma, Kiko Fuentes and Carlos Muñoz on lead vocals and Melcochita on coro (vocal chorus). According to Linares, the studio band was “open-ended, some musicians came some days, others on other days…Nilo Espinoza on saxophone, Betico Salas and Tito Chicoma on trumpets. Otto de Rojas played piano, and so did Charlie Palomares, who played vibraphone. Another good musician was guitarist Carlos Hayre.”
Though the recordings were cut “live in the studio” and many were basically composed on the spot, the intrinsic strength and maturity of the performances on ‘Yo Traigo Boogaloo’ stand the test of time as one of Peru’s most important contributions to tropical music across the decades, establishing Alfredito Linares as a master of the idiom and serving as a harbinger for great things to come for him in Colombia and Venezuela. Long sought after by collectors, DJs and lovers of hard salsa and boogaloo alike, ‘Yo Traigo Boogaloo’ is now lovingly reissued in replica form with the original cover art, remastered from the studio tapes, reproducing that magical MAG studio sound for today’s aficionados to enjoy like it was 1969 all over again.