Daiquiri: My Sound of Venezuela

When my parents moved to Caracas, Venezuela, in the early 1980s, I tried to visit as often as my time and our traveling budget allowed. It was the time of the Sony Walkman and, soon thereafter, the Sony Discman, and I usually had more than enough music along for the many trips to last me several weeks. Still, in the long run, I would run out and simply tune into any of the many radio stations available.

Besides the usual US fare being played up and down the airwaves, Venezuelan radio was infused with salsa, from right to left, from top to bottom, and 24/7. For someone unacquainted with it, most of the tunes played sounded all alike, but it didn’t take me long to get with the program. So, when my second or third visit rolled along, I found myself automatically tuning into a salsa station to accompany the soothing night sounds of frogs and chicadas and whatever else came creepy crawling out at night. By the way, whenever I returned to Europe, I immediately missed that soundtrack I had then enjoyed for anywhere from 4 weeks to nearly three months. Actually, Europe was, if you didn’t live downtown, sonically dead as a door nail.One day, a single tune made me prick up my ears, run over to the radio and turn it up as loud as possible without gliding into distortion territory. It had an incredibly modern rhythm, a polished 80s production sound, and one hell of a catchy hook, including a wonderful finale. It was a fascinating fusion of traditional dance music with modern instruments and production values.

That song was “Chamito Candela“.

The title wasn’t difficult to remember, as it also dominated the last minute or so of the song, but the announcer never mentioned the name of the band. Instead, the track segued right into one of the trillions of commercials blasted through the radio every couple of minutes.

The Internet was still far off, and running to the next record store was out of the question for me (I was dependent on my parents driving me through the insane traffic of Caracas), so I decided to stay glued to the radio, convinced that a track like that was going to be replayed later in the day.

And I was right.
Actually, it became a smash hit and ruled the airwaves for quite some time.
That same day then, I found out that the band was called “Daiquiri”.

01) Daiquiri: Band History

Daiquiri, a band about which not much is available on the Internet besides a rather weak Spanish Wikipedia entry and a section on Sincopa: The Guide to Venezuelan Music, was formed in 1983 by Alberto Slezynger, who was also the band’s leader.

Slezynger was clearly striving for a modernized approach to the Caribbean, tropical and salsa music everyone loved in and outside of Venezuela, incorporating the then relatively new sounds of the Yamaha DX-7, an instrument that was beginning to rear its head on almost every mainstream pop and fusion production of the 80s, other electronic keyboards and organs, electric guitars, bass and drums. When compared to the traditional music I had been listening to day in and day out, like most other people, this music was fresh, hot … and new, without losing its roots and still being instantly recognizable.

Daiquiri: Band

The musicians Alberto Slezynger assembled around himself to get that new sound were, for the most part, session musicians, some of which were educated at American music colleges, who had all already proven themselves on the Venezuelan market. On their second release, “La Casa del Ritmo”, which included the song I wrote about above, those musicians were, in addition to Alberto Slezynger (lead vocals, keyboards, percussion), Silvano Monasterios (piano, keyboards), Pedro Vilela (guitar), Danilo Aponte (bass), Carlos “Nene” Quintero, Gustavo Calle (percussion), Gerardo López (percussion and background vocals) and Manolo Alvarez (backing vocals).

“La Casa del Ritmo” (Sonográfica, 1984) is still one of my favorite LPs today and as I have thousands of LPs and CDs, that’s something to write home about. There wasn’t a weak track on this wonderful LP and “Agua Que No Has De Beber“, “La Casa Del Ritmo“, “Zambo Montuno“, “Chamo Candela“, and “El Amor” became instant personal favoritres. Coupled with “Puro Deseo De Amar“, “Vente Conmigo“, “Caso Perdido” and “Como El Viento” off their debut album, simply entitled “Daiquiri” (Sonográfica, 1983), you have a veritable parade of excellent tracks to spice up any party, Latin or not.

With 5 regular albums under their belt, Daiquiri have become a fixture in Venezuelean music history not only of the 80s, although they slipped somewhat off my radar after their first two LPs. On January 1, 1988, Daiquiri’s bassist, Danilo Aponte, who is still on their third LP, “La Noche” (Sonográfica, 1985), died in a car crash and Daiquiri integrated a new bassist, Rafael “Rafucho” Figliola, into the band. They switched labels from Sonográfica to EMI-Rodven and put out two more records, Mi Tumbao (EMI-Rodven, 1987) and Daiquirí 5 (EMI-Rodven, 1989).

When I started looking around for any information on “Daiquiri” a few years ago, I read that Alberto Slezynger had emigrated to the U.S. and settled in Miami, Florida, where he founded “Personal Music“, “a multi-faceted, Miami-based full-service digital recording facility […] providing music services  for the creative industries […]”. He still successfully runs that company today as its CCO.

The rest of the musicians dispersed to the four winds and continued what they did best, play and produce music. All of them reappeared on other releases by various artists.

Slezynger himself has not separated from Daiquiri’s music. In 2004 he lead a group of musicians interpreting the old “Daiquiri” classics at several concerts in Miami and he even popped around Europe for a Latin American and Caribbean Festival in Istanbul, Turkey.

02) Getting Re-Acquainted with “Daiquiri” on CD

Although I have Daiquiri’s first two LPs at home, I have often searched the Internet thin for any CD of their earlier material, simply because my two LPs are worn down to their bare ingredients. Unfortunately, unearthing CD releases of their material is not easy at all, but in 2009 the stars aligned right and an old friend from Venezuela, Natalia, did not forget to run around Caracas to pick up what she could find there for me before we met up in Heidelberg, Germany, that summer.

The two CDs she brought along were “Daiquiri. Lo Máximo – 16 Grandes Exitos” (Sonográfica, 2004, CD) and “Daiquiri. La Historia” (Latin World, 2004, CD).

The first one of those, “Lo Máximo”, was probably the highlight of my music collecting that year, simply because it is a grabbag of the hits I referred to above. Taken off their first three Sonográfica albums and supplemented with a tune entitled “She-Fire-Remix”, a comparatively forgettable track, it’s perhaps the only CD release still somewhat available and worth getting.

The second one, “La Historia” is one of those odd butcher jobs that is interesting but simply not comparable to what made Daiquiri famous. Although it does feature all the big hits, all of them have been spiced up and added on to, so much so that to me personally, it just doesn’t sound much like “Daiquiri” anymore. In fact, most of it sounds like it was rerecorded. It reeks of the old “fast buck” technique, cashing in on the reputation of the band and trying to score additional airplay by updating the sound for the 21st century. It is not a bad album per se, but I have a basic aversion to these kinds of releases that try to change what once was. Just call me old-fashioned.

03) Daiquiri: Albums

From 1983 to 1989, Daiquiri released 5 regular albums. I am not aware of any CD reissues of those albums, but I am sure there must have been some, although looking around the Internet to see if any did roll around unearthed … nothing.

Should that be the case, I think a well-edited and decent-sounding reissue of at least their first two albums is in order. Considering Daiquiri’s reputation, it is a shame that those are simply not available.

Daiquirí. Daiquirí (Sonográfica, 1983, LP).

Produced & Arranged by: Alberto Slezynger; Co-Produced by: Larry Osterman; Executive Production: Fonotalento; Recording Engineers: Hugh Dwyer, Miguel Angel Larralde, Juan Carlos Socorro; Recording Studio: Tele-Arte, Caracas.

Side A
01) Puro Deseo De Amar
02) Caso Perdido
03) Como El Viento
04) Ven A Mi Lado

Side B
01) Vente Conmigo
02) Volver A Vivir
03) Un Día Como Hoy
04) Un Día En El Beisbol

Musicians: Alberto Slezynger (vocals, keyboards); Guest artists: Ilan Chester, Carlos “Nene” Quintero, Roberto Rimeris, Arnaldo Mancinelli, Sergio Mancinelli, Gustavo Aranguren, Yordano, Ismael Vásquez, Pedro Vilela and Rosa Soy.

***

Daiquirí. La Casa Del Ritmo (Sonográfica, 1984, LP).

Produced by: Larry Osterman; Co-Produced by: Alberto Slezynger and Hugo Dwyer; Arranged by: Alberto Slezynger; Executive Production: Fonotalento; Recorded and Mixed by: Hugh Dwyer and Miguel Angel Larralde; Recording Studio: Tele-Arte, Caracas.

Side A
01) Agua Que No Has De Beber
02) La Casa Del Ritmo
03) Zambo Montuno
04) Desde Que Te Fuiste

Side B
01) Chamo Candela
02) Mi Corazón
03) El Amor
04) La Conquista

Musicians: Alberto Slezynger (lead Vocals, keyboards, percussion); Silvano Monasterios (piano, keyboards); Pedro Vilela (guitar); Danilo Aponte (bass); Carlos “Nene” Quintero (percussion); Gustavo Calle (percussion); Gerardo López (percussion, backing vocals); Manolo Alvarez (backing vocals);

Guest musician: Rafael Velásquez (trumpet, flugelhorn).

***

Daiquirí. La Noche. (Sonográfica, 1985, LP).

Produced by: George Clinton and Alberto Slezynger; Arranged by: Alberto Slezynger; Executive Production: Larry Osterman: Recorded by: Miguel Angel; Recording Studio: Larralde at Tele-Arte, Caracas; Recording Assistant: Edgar Espinoza; Mixed by: Jim Scott, GHR Studios, Hollywood, CA.

Side A
01) Tu Tienes La Culpa
02) Un Papel y Una Flor
03) Caribe Soy
04) La Noche

Side B
01) Mujer Candela
02) Recuerdos De Esa Mujer
03) Morir De Amor
04) Tormenta En Tus Ojos

Musicians:
Alberto Slezynger (lead vocals, keyboards, percussion); Silvano Monasterios (piano, keyboards); Pedro Vilela (guitar); Danilo Aponte (bass); Gerardo López (drums, percussion, backing vocals); Carlos “Nene” Quintero (percussion); Gustavo Calle (percussion); Manolo Alvarez (backing vocals, percussion); Gustavo Aranguren (trumpet, flugelhorn).

Guest Musicians: Ezequiel Serrano (saxophone); Rodrigo Barboza (trombone); Panamá George (keyboards); Bob Kulick (guitar); Medio Evo (backing vocals on A1 and A3)

***

Daiquirí. Mi Tumbao (EMI-Rodven, 1987, LP).

Produced & Arranged by: Alberto Slezynger; Co-Produced by: Edgar Espinoza and Carlos “Nene” Quintero; Tracks A1 and A3 produced by: David Z. & Ricky Peterson; Co-Produced by; Alberto Slezynger; Executive Production: Tony Delucca and Larry Osterman; Production Assistant: Jorge Cardona; Recorded by: Juan Carlos Socorro, Alejandro Rodríguez, Edgar Espinoza and Nucho Bellomo; Recording Studio: Audio Uno, Caracas; Overdubs and Mixing by: Tom Tucker Sr. and David Z., Metro Studios, Minneapolis; Assistants: Tom Tucker Jr., Julie Gargesky, John Hurst, Chopper Black and Kris Simms.

Side A
01) Mi Tumbao
02) El Amor Otra Vez
03) Yo No Creo En El Amor
04) La Fiesta

Side B
01) La Rumba De Panama
02) Enseñame
03) Cuando Me Vas A Querer?
04) La Soroche

Musicians: Alberto Slezynger (lead vocals, keyboards, percussion); Silvano Monasterios (piano, keyboards); Pedro Vilela (guitar); Danilo Aponte (bass); Gerardo López (drums, percussion, backing vocals); Carlos “Nene” Quintero (percussion); Iván Marcano (percussion); Manolo Alvarez (backing vocals, percussion).

Guest Musicians: Gustavo Aranguren (trumpet); Rafael Figliolo (bass); Enrique Madera (accordion); Miguel Arias (MIDI programming); Samantha, Geraldine and Genevieve Planchart(backing vocals); Pat Macken (saxophone); Larry Macabe(trombone); Dave Jensen (trumpet); Ricky Peterson and Lee Blaski (keyboards); Paul Peterson(guitar, bass).

***

Daiquirí. Daiquirí 5 (EMI-Rodven, 1989, LP).

Produced and Arranged by: Alberto Slezynger; Co-Produced by: Iván Marcano, Rubén D. García and Edgar Espinoza; Executive Production: Tony Delucca; Production Assistant: Jorge Cardona; Recorded by: Edgar Espinoza; Recording Studio: Sincrosonido, Caracas; Mixed by: Eric Schilling, Criteria Studios, Miami, FL.

Side A
01) Déjame Vivir Tranquilo
02) Soñando Contigo
03) Ay, Ay Ay, Ay
04) Mi Mundo De Amor
05) Sukuzu Mamoyé

Side B
01) Mambolón
02) La Isla Del Eden
03) La Voz De La Naturaleza
04) El Amor Ideal

Musicians: Alberto Slezynger (lead vocals, keyboards); Silvano Monasterios (piano, keyboards); Pedro Vilela (guitar); Rubén Darío García(keyboards, bass); Gerardo López (timbales, backing vocals); Carlos “Nene” Quintero (percussion); Iván Marcano (drums, timbales, backing voicals); Manolo Alvarez (backing vocals, percussion); Luis Quintero (congas, bongos, timbales, percussion); Gustavo Aranguren (trumpet, flugelhorn); Pepe Vera (tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone); Rodolfo Reyes (tenor saxophone); Ezequiel Serrano (soprano saxophone); María Enriqueta Fleitas and Carlos Puchi (backing vocals); Edgar Espinoza (MIDI programming).

***

03) Daiquiri: Compilation Albums

As far as I know, 5 compilation albums were released between 1986 and 2004, one LP and four CDs. I have three of the five listed here, so I can vouch for the accuracy of the information as there is, for example, not much much available online about the first two.

Daiquiri. Lo Mejor De Daiquirí – Con Sorpresas! (Sonográfica, 1986, LP).

Produced by: Alberto Slezynger, Larry Osterman, George Clinton  and Hugo Dwyer. Graphic Design and Illustration: Beatriz Gómez.

Side A
01) She’s on Fire (Mujer Candela) Remix
02) Morir De Amor
03) Vente Conmigo
04) Agua Que No Has De Beber
05) El Amor

Side B
01) Puro Deseo De Amar
02) La Casa Del Ritmo
03) Caso Perdido
04) Chamo Candela
05) Caribe Soy

***

Daiquiri. Lo Mejor De Daiquirí  (MTM/Talento, 1998?, 018039-0, CD).

Note: The follwoing CD is a licensed compilation album. All tracks were licensed from Sonografica, besides tracks 4 and 6, which were licensed from Slezynger’s “Personal Music”. I am quite sure that this compilation was released in 1998, but the booklet I have had access to did not list a year. It appears that the compilation album above is often confused with this one.

01) La Casa del Ritmo
02) El Amor
03) Caso Perdido
04) Despecho Montuno
05) Volver a Vivir
06) Desde que te Fuiste
07) Agua que no Has de Beber
08) Vente Conmigo
09) Caribeña
10) Mi Corazón
11) Puro Deseo de Amar
12) Como el Viento
13) Caribe Soy
14) Ven a mi Lado
15) Morir de Amor
16) Zambo Montuno
17) La Noche
18) Chamo Candela

***

Daiquiri. Caribe Soy (Latin World, 2001, CD).

01) Chamo Candela
02) Puro Deseo De Amar
03) La Casa Del Ritmo
04) Zambo Montuno
05) Morir De Amor
06) Caribe Soy
07) Pa’ Fricasé
08) Agua Que No Has De Beber
09) Caso Perdido
10) Mi Son Montuno
11) Como El Viento
12) Vente Conmigo
13) Conga Popular

***

Daiquiri. La Historia (Latin World, 2004, CD).

Note: The songs on this album have been added on to, changed and/or re-recorded. They sound very different from the original tracks. Beware!

01) Chamo Candela
02) Puro Deseo De Amar
03) La Casa Del Ritmo
04) Zambo Montuno
05) Morir De Amor
06) Caribe Soy
07) Pa’ Fricasé
08) Agua Que No Has De Beber
09) Caso Perdido
10) Mi Son Montuno
11) Como El Viento
12) Vente Conmigo
13) Conga Popular

***

Daiquiri. Lo Máximo – 16 Grandes Exitos (Sonográfica, 2004, CD).

01) Puro Deseo De Amar
02) Agua Que No Has De Beber
03) Caribe Soy
04) El Amor
05) Un Día En El Beisbol
06) La Casa Del Ritmo
07) Zambo Montuno
08) Chamo Candela
09) Como El Viento
10) Ven A Mi Lado
11) Volver A Vivir
12) Un Día Como Hoy
13) Vente Conmigo
14) Caso Perdido
15) Morir De Amor
16) She Fire-Remix

Posted by Volkher Hofmann

Volkher Hofmann (deus62) has been blogging on and off since the 1990s and deus62.com is all that is left. He loves music, literature, drumming and, most of all, real life. He thinks the open web is much more important than social networks, closed-in ecosystems and other severely commercialized online endeavors.

  1. Thank you so much for this complete post !
    Trying to find information on this band is still an impossible task it seems…

    Do you know of any website where one can buy their CDs?

    Thank you, and thanks again for this awesome piece!
    ~L

    Reply

    1. Thanks for your comment.
      I’m not aware of any websites which offer their music for sale, which is a pity.
      This best-of does contain all the hits though:

      Link to amazon.com.

      Reply

  2. Thanks for the info. Pretty awesome. By any chance you have the catalog number of “La noche”?

    Reply

    1. Hi Gordon,

      the only thing I could come up with quickly is a link to this image: http://bit.ly/ZKzuPd
      Hope that helps.

      Volkher

      Reply

  3. I also spend time in Venezuela in the mid 1980s, as an American high school student from New England on an exchange program to Barquisimeto. Chamito Candela was the most fun song to dance to, of all. Close, fast partner dancing was by then all-but-dead in U.S. teen culture. Salsa style was a revelation. Anyway, the hooks and rhythm were at once unfamiliar and catchy to my suburban ears. Thanks for writing this review, es tán chevere!

    Reply

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