THE FOOTPRINTS OF
BOBBY MATOS


 

BY ERIC E. GONZŃLEZ

Entrevista originalmente publicada en 2000. Reeditada en Diciembre, 2016

You canít say that Bobby Matos isnít trying. The fact is that this Nuyorican has been playing Afrocuban rhythms for a long time. He was there, in New York, when the "Salsa" boom was about to start and take over the minds and souls of a generation that was craving for a musical revolution that would bring them pride and happiness. In fact, Bobby did his first recording at time. "My Latin Soul" --which the bandleader sometimes likes to dismiss-- was released in 1968, under the Phillips label, and produced by the great Joe Cain. Since then, this material has acquired a cult status in Europe and some parts of the United States. I really enjoy this recording, and listening to it will take you back to those years, in which Latin Soul and Boogaloo were the predominant rhythms. After this recording, success avoided Matos for a while, forcing him to quit his status of bandleader. He worked as a sideman for almost two decades. It was when he moved to California that he finally recorded new material in 1980s. These recordings, "Heritage Ensemble" and "Collage," were mostly Latin Jazz oriented, in a time in which few musicians played these rhythms. These were Bobbyís only recorded materials for the eighties. Almost ten years later, he reappeared with a new release - "Changůís Dance" --, for the Cubop label, which has been home for this musician ever since. "Changůís Dance" was followed by "Footprints" (hence the title of this interview), "Sessions," and "Live in MOCA". In addition, he has been busy acting as a producer to such legendary figures as Ray Armando, Dave Pike, and Jack Costanzo.

I interviewed Bobby at his home in Silver Lake, California, which he shares as a single parent with his fifteen-year old son, Judson. Judson, by the way, plays chekere on occasion in some of his dadís recordings. Bobby is very health-conscious, and we talked a lot about proper nutrition, meditation, exercise, etc. He also recommended me a couple of self-help books about these topics (one of which I did buy). He also likes to play a given recording to make a point about an artist. You can tell that this man really loves and enjoys music. What you are about to read reflects that...and more....

ERIC E. GONZŃLEZ (EEG): Okay, Bobby, tell me about your beginnings.

BOBBY MATOS (BM): I was born in the Bronx, New York City, on July 24, 1941. My family was very artistic. I grew up with my mother and my motherís family. My grandparents on my motherís side were Russian Jews. They had three children: my mother, her sister, and her brother. My mother wanted to be a dancer from the time she was a kid. She wanted to become a painter (thereís one of her paintings in Bobbyís home kitchenís wall). Her younger sister became an actress and acting teacher. My uncle became a sculptor and then, later on, a cabinet maker. He liked working with his hands.

Everyone loved music. My uncle and my grandfather would take me to the movies, and anything... musical comedies, where people would tap dance and jump up the tables -- that would drive my grandfather nuts. My aunt would always have a piano in her home, so there was always music around, and everyone was encouraged to sing, to dance, to act out, to draw, to paint...I came up in a very artistic environment and since my mother loved dancing, I got to hear quite a lot of music. I remember being a kid and being in my bedroom and supposed to be asleep, but I would leave the door open a little bit, and my mother would be in the living room practicing dancing...

EEG: What kind of music?

BM: To Machito, Tito Puente, Josť Curbelo... people like that. We also grew up with a lot of Jazz: Django Reinhardt, Billie Holiday, Josh White, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole... My uncle told me that when I was a baby, the first song I learned to sing was "Sweet Lorraine,Ē which the Nat King Cole trio did.

I grew up with a lot of music, but not a lot of instruments around the house, so I was always encouraged to sing and dance, to express myself musically. When I was about eight years old, my mother remarried and we moved to Brooklyn. So I went to a lot of different schools and they always had kids that could sing. I remember being in high school... I was in the chorus. I was a freshman, I was in the ninth grade, I was in the chorus with twelfth graders, because it was the only period that I had to have chorus. Everyone that was in the class with me, was like 3 to 4 years older than me, so I would get to hear more sophisticated music than normal teenagers of my age. At that time, Rock & Roll was just beginning to become popular; a lot of kids didnít even know what it was.

EEG: What year was that?

BM: We are talking Ď59, so we are talking the fifties, you know. And I used to listen to all the early Rhythm & Blues... Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers, The Cadillacs... But, at the same time, Iím listening to my motherís records. Iím listening to Tito Puente and Machito.

One day I turned on the T.V. and saw the Machito Orchestra, and he introduced his new conga player, who just came from Havana: Patato. And I saw Patato play, and sing, and dance, and it was just amazing... on commercial TV, in New York. The next day in high school, everybody in the chorus was talking, "Did you see Machito on TV yesterday? Oh, man..."

EEG: You are talking about the fifties. There were racial issues during those years...

BM: There were a lot of racial divisions.

EEG: In spite of that, they actually had Latin Music on TV?

BM: They had a program on TV called "The Spanish Hour," which was probably once a week...

EEG: ABC, NBC....?

BM: A local station in New York. And I remember it was "Don Pasante and the Spanish Hour," and Machito was the guest at that time, you know, and it was just amazing. Everybody was talking about Patato. And the Machito Orchestra was one of the important orchestras in the history of Afrocuban Music. The Machito Orchestra helped define Latin Jazz and Mambo.

EEG: Machito and Mario BauzŠ...

BM: With Mario BauzŠ, of course. I didnít know that Machito and Mario BauzŠ at that time were also responsible for introducing Dizzy Gillespie to Afrocuban Music. I found out much, much later. But I used to listen to a Jazz station on the radio after school, and this guy would be on the air - Symphony Sid. He was later the Master of Ceremonies in a lot of those Fania records..."Mongo at the Village Gate," "Our Latin Thing"... He was the guy, you know.

EEG: Was Symphony Sid playing Latin Music before the Fania revolution?

BM: Yes, he was mixing it in with the straight-ahead Jazz. You know, is funny, because my mother said that she used to listen to Symphony Sid when she was in high school, too (LAUGHTER). So he had been on the air for a long, long time.

One day Iím listening and heard Dizzy Gillespie and Chano Pozo playing "Manteca" - the "Live" Concert version. And it just got me so excited that I couldnít wait to hear that record again, and I couldnít remember the name of the song. I looked at record stores all the time and I couldnít find it in any album, because I wasnít sure what I was looking for. One day I found it and I was in heaven. And those recordings that Symphony Sid used to play fired me up.

I remember being 14 or 15 years old that summer, and hearing Machito in an album called "Kenya...Machito plays Afrocuban Jazz with Cannonball Adderley, Joe Newman, and Patato." And that album just blew me away. Then he started playing Herbie Mann and his Afrocuban Group. He did one album with Machito, and then he stole Machitoís rhythm section: Patato, Josť Mangual, Sr.... And then he started recording Afrocuban Jazz as well.

I started listening to this music and I realized that it had the best of both worlds: the best of the Mambo bands and the best of the Jazz bands. What happened next is that I discovered Cal Tjader. I must have been 18 or 19, and I went to a party -- I was going to school at Brooklyn Community College --, and heard this music from "Ritmo Caliente." Just the combination of flute, vibes, conga, bass...was driving me crazy, man, and I just knew that that was what I had to do. At that time I wasnít starting any instrument; I was singing and I was dancing. I was an excellent Mambo dancer when I was a kid, and I used to dance Rock & Roll, and I would win contests and stuff like that, because I loved it...not because I was the best, but because I had probably the most enthusiasm (LAUGHTER).

EEG: Did you ever go to the Palladium?

BM: Oh, yeah, I went to the Palladium! A couple of things happened when I was about 13, 14... I wasnít going to the Palladium because I was too young, but I was aware of Machito and Tito Puente. I remember working in the summertime and I was a waiter in this camp. One of the little girls that went to this camp, her grandmother owned the Concord Hotel, in Monticello, upstate New York. And at the Concord Hotel every summer, the Machito Orchestra worked there. So what she did for this little girlís birthday -- she was 9 or 10 years old --, she sends the Machito Orchestra over there to play for an afternoon of dancing. Every one at that time was dancing Cha-Cha-Cha. Rock & Roll was beginning to be popular; Elvis was just beginning to make some noise at this point. And here comes the Machito Orchestra, with Graciela and Patato, and all those wonderful musicians...and Iím freaking out, you know! So, me not having any kind of fear, I walked up Machito and said, "Could you please play something from the Kenya album?" And his eyes lit up and he looks at me and says, "ŅTķ eres un aficionado?" I said, "Yes!!" He says, "Well, Iíll play something just for you!" He didnít play anything from the album, but he played something Jazzy for me. But...what started to happen then is that I realized that Macho was accessible. He was very accessible. You could always go and talk to him or his sister, you know, and they would be very, very friendly. Throughout the years, I would go over and talk to him and he would talk to me. He would ask me how my music was coming.

I remember one time going to an outdoor event -- New York was always good for having great bands playing outdoor events -- and I saw Machito and Graciela playing, and everybody was sitting down, and I was standing up, and I was dancing because I could not hold myself still anymore. I looked at the other side of the bandstand, and I saw some young lady who was right in sync with me, dancing with me, so we made eye-contact and I said, "Well, okay, letís dance." So we started dancing. It was just about dance; not about boy-meets-girl. It was about, "Come on, vamos a guarachar, vamos a bailar." And Macho is checking me out; Iím dancing just in front of the stage. Heís looking at me the whole time, and he says, "Joven, con su permiso." And he puts down his maracas -- I remember very carefully -- on top of his bongo case. He asked if he could cut in. And he dances with this young lady and it gives me a lesson in the economy of movement. He wasnít a young man anymore at this point, and he did this little movement in which he grabs his trousers and he moves very economically, just right on the pocket, with just the right amount of "guaperŪa."

To know Machito and Graciela was such a privilege, and that band...my God...it was like the Basie Band and the Duke Ellington Band. Everybody says that today. To me, more important that Duke Ellington -- I know itís sacrilege, everybody is making "Saint Duke" --, but boy, Macho was in another heaven above that. And Graciela was still rocking. I donít know how old Graciela is, but she did a recent recording, "Ayer le vi llorar," with Steve Turre (the trombonist), and she sounds wonderful. Steveís brother is my saxophonist.

 I remember when I first came out of the army, and I was starting my first group, which was more like a dance-oriented band, but with some Latin Jazz -- in those days it was okay to play Latin Jazz-influenced Mambo...to have a vocalist and still play Jazz. We are talking the Alegre years, with Orlando Marin and the Alegre All-Stars. There wouldnít be a recording were somebody did a solo...

EEG: They were short recordings...

BM: They were short, but they were jamming recordings. And a lot of times some of the same musicians that would be playing with Art Blakey or Lee Morgan would be playing with Charlie Palmieri or Orlando Marin. There wasnít such a big separation, especially in New York.

When we were kids, we would go to the dances that would happen in Central Park, by 110th St, summertime, with Puente and Machito. Right where you came out of the park, you were in the heart of Black Harlem, not Spanish Harlem, and every black kid in Harlem danced Mambo. It was part of their heritage to dance Mambo and being able to play Mambo, as well as to do Doo-Wop at the same time. John B. Williams, my bass player, who is a couple years older than me, says that he went to school with Frankie Lymon. But Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers was a Doo-Wop group, with five black kids. Two of those kids were Puerto Rican and they would play mambo as well as Doo-Wop. It was like that in New York. In New York, Jazz, Rhythm & Blues, and Mambo existed side by side. There wasnít any separation. Mambo was already heavily Jazz-influenced.

EEG: African-Americans used to go to the Palladium, too, during the Mambo years...

BM: Went to the Palladium, won dance contests, won the playing in the bands....a lot of wonderful musicians. The first time I ever worked with John B. Williams playing Afrocuban music, I was surprised of how strong his tumbao was, and I said, "Where did you learn to play all these Latin tumbaos?" He says, "Bobby, Bobby, Bobby...Iím from Harlem...I played Conga before I played bass" (LAUGHTER). Thatís where I learned to play conga, in the basements of churches in Harlem. In a basement of a church in 129th Street and 7th Avenue, where I was invited by some kid I went to school with.

EEG: How old were you at that time?

BM: I was in college, probably seventeen. I have been beating on drums for quite some time, but not really playing well.

EEG: What kind of drums?

BM: Congas. And I really kind of started to refine at that time, when I was in college

EEG: What made you take the drums?

BM: Thatís a very good question. The first thing that you learn in New York when you dance to Mambo, because there is no dance called "Salsa" -- please quote me on this: there is no music called Salsa, there is no dance called Salsa --, is to dance on the top of the conga. Especially on the West Coast, [where] 95% of the dance teachers are teaching it on the wrong beat. Folks, is on the two, is on the slap of the conga that you step out, which is the two, you know, and in order to dance properly in those days, you learn to dance on top of the conga. I remember going to see Herbie Mann one night, with Patato and Josť Mangual (Sr.). I was seating in the front row and every time Patato hit the conga, I could physically feel the pitch in the solar plexus of my body. And it really affected me tremendously and at that point I just knew that that was my instrument.

EEG: So you began playing congas...

BM: And after seeing Puente and people like that playing timbales, thatís what I wanted to play. You know, Tito was a dancer first. Tito Puente was a dancer before he was a timbalero. All his music was geared to make you move. Even his most Jazzy exploits were geared to make you move your butt. That quality of butt-shaking, ass-moving music is a quality that comes from the African input in that music, which is a quality that is shared with Chinese and Japanese Martial Arts, in that the center of your body is below your navel. The center of your energy is there. And when I say African music, Iím talking about Mambo, Cha-Cha-Cha, Charanga, Samba, Calypso, Batucada, New Orleans Second Line music, Rhythm & Blues, you know. And generations later, Rock & Roll and American Pop Music...it all comes from African Music. Itís all Neo-African Music. It might be Afro-Cuban Music, Afro-American Music, Afro-Caribbean Music, Afro-Brazilian Music... but people forget that, you know. Rock & Roll didnít come from Europe. As a matter of fact, a good deal of Rock & Roll -- la clave and the tumbao -- is really straight from African Music and from Afro-Cuban Music. And you hear the Clave in the early New Orleans Rhythm and Blues music, because you can never forget that New Orleans is a Caribbean city. Itís the Northern most city of the Caribbean and their interplay with Cuba and Puerto Rico and Santo Domingo was very frequent, because the boats would go back and forth. And many people in New Orleans spoke Spanish.

But the thing is, when you donít move your butt, youíre dead, because all your vital organs are below your waist -- your digestive organs, your reproductive organs, your cleansing organs... They are all there, in the center of your body. The Chinese say that thatís "the furnace." Thatís why you have to keep going, thatís why you have to keep flowing. And in our music you are naturally doing that! You are generating energy, because you are moving your waist, you are shaking your hips. And Iím not talking about that "Salsa Monga," with people doing all those acrobatic steps, which they stole from Disco, which dance teachers are now promoting as a dance. Itís not a legitimate dance. Itís created in the dance studios.

EEG: You know, I have noticed that they are selling the music as a dance and not as quality matter. It seems thatís the only way to do it. Thatís the only way to sell the music.

BM: Yeah, right. So now all the superstars are vocalists, rather than band leaders.

EEG: Do you think people are selective when it comes to dancing these days?

BM: Not if they are playing Latin Jazz! Not in Los Angeles! The minute they play Latin Jazz the people stop dancing in L.A. You know, "I canít dance to that." Well, I got news for you: most of them canít dance in the first place. There is a very well-known dance company here in L.A; they were doing a show in Santa Barbara with Tito Puente. Puente stopped playing in the middle of the number and said, "What the hell is that? You call that dancing? You are on the wrong beat! Is on the two! Can you count to two? One, two...!Ēand embarrassed the shit out of the guy. And the guy is still teaching on the one! And he is still telling all his audiences, "Oh, now you are getting Latin! All you girls, I want you to call your partner ĎPapi chulo,í and all you guys call your partner ĎMami lindaí and now you are doing the real Latin Salsa." You know, and I want to slap him every time I see him doing that. Actually he moves well, but heís totally on the wrong beat. And he is still teaching on the wrong beat! And the same mentality applies to Latin Jazz.

Well, we just came back from San Francisco, and guess what? We played the same repertoire that we always play and the dance floor was packed, with a lot better dancers than I see here. There are few excellent dance teachers here in L.A. I like Laura Canellias when she is teaching Mambo, and not her Salsa class. I think that Laura has the essence of understanding Mambo. Albert Torres can dance, too. Albert is working in trying to bring a feeling of authenticity. I think one of the best dancers in Los Angeles is Ismael Carlo, who is an actor. Heís the one doing the poetry in "Changůís Dance." Marina Bambino, who is a percussionist, can dance well, too. You know who can dance? The young Panamanian kid thatís the MC at the Conga Room.

EEG: Okay, Bobby, letís move on with your career. You are in college playing conga...

BM: I was living with my grandmother in the Bronx, and I started to hear more and more of this music. On weekends I started to hang out at Greenwich Village, playing with musicians whenever I could. And this guy invited me to come to a club -- to a coffee shop -- and to bring a conga. There was some group he was playing with, and I made friends with these guys. They were working for peanuts.

EEG: What kind of music?

BM: Just Afro-Cuban music...rumba...congas, a flute, a bass sometimes...They let me join the group. They told me, "Well, your conga playing needs a lot to be desired, but at least you own your own drums." They started to teach me more.

EEG: Whatís the name of the group?

BM: It was called "Los Congueros." And also I was going to see Herbie Mann play with Patato, and I used to go backstage and hang out with those guys. I would bug Patato all the time, "Show me how you did this, show me how you did that." So he would show me something that was too simple. Then I bothered him again, so he would show me something difficult, you know, so he could go get drunk and chase women.

EEG: Was he very giving at that time?

BM: Patato was wonderful! Heís a clown. He loves people. Heís a great dancer. He loves to see people around, enjoying the music, you know.

After a while, other musicians started to teach me. When I joined "Los Congueros", we had, like 3 congas, timbales, maracas, flute, bass Ėsometimes--, you know. We would play whatever kind of Afro-Cuban Jazz things that we could copy from whatever records that we heard that didnít need a piano -- if we could get away without a piano. We would play tumbadora, segunda, and quinto, you know -- the low, medium and high drums in the Rumba battery. They would tell me, "Well, you are only going to play tumbadora, and you are just going to play tumbaos in all these numbers. You are not going to play any solos." And I would say, "Come on! I want to play!" "No, you donít know enough to play any solos," they replied. So they locked me into playing tumbadoras.

When we started working 5 -6 nights a week, they said, "You play tumbadoras for 6 months straight, no solos, not even one lick, and then in six months weíll give you a solo." They became my mentors. The leader of the group was Charles Campbell and he later moved to Europe. He played congas and he was the first person that ever showed me anything on timbales. But I started playing 5 -6 nights a week. I dropped out of school to play with these guys.

EEG: You dropped out of school?

BM: I dropped out of school. I was going to college. I was studying commercial art. But I decided to be a drummer. So I became a bohemian. I lived in Greenwich Village. I shared an apartment with one of the other guys in the band. I started working with some of the other people that were playing at the coffee shop. They would say, "Hey! Come with me. I have a party to play!"

 I remember the first recording session I ever played, I made fifteen dollars for it. I wound up playing with people like Lou Gossett, who became better known as an actor, and Dino Valente, who became a member of Quicksilver messenger service years later. Anybody that would have me, you now, and then little by little I started getting into Jazz. At that time I was really focused on conga.

 I went to Europe for a year, where I felt I could be more daring. I came back and I was kind of doing the same thing. At that time they had the draft, and I had avoided being drafted. I didnít break the law, but they used to say, ďIf you change your address, notify your draft board" (LAUGHTER). So the day I got on a ship, I dropped a letter to my draft board saying: My new address is American Express, Munich, Germany (LAUGHTER). So I came back and I was drafted probably a year or two later than I should have been.

I was in the army with guys that were a couple years younger than me. I was always around places where there were other musicians. And I was starting to get more into timbales when I was in the army, even though I was mostly playing congas. In Virginia there were no congas in the service club, so I started going to Washington D.C. There was this club called the "Cassbah." There was a band, in which the leader was playing timbales, but he also had congas in the club. He just kept them for people that wanted to come and sit in. So I would just to go and sit in.

One day I was playing and all of the sudden I heard a difference in the timbales. The timbales started to rock! I turned around and I see somebody different. This guyís name was Paul Hawkins, and he said, "Why donít you come and sit in with my band?" The difference with his band and the band I was sitting in was night and day. He was an African-American guy, but he had mostly Puerto-Rican guys in his band. He was a very good friend of Patato. One day I went to his house, and Patato was in the kitchen, cooking. I said, "Patato! What are you doing here, man?" Paulís apartment was like a big meeting place. Paul and a few other people gave me names of people to look up when I got out of the army. I didnít know how to write music and it was driving me crazy because I didnít know how to express this music. At that time they had the GI Bill, so when I got out of the army and went to school at night to learn music.

EEG: What school was that?

BM: I went to the New School of Social Research and, a year later, I was going to Manhattan College of Music at night. I went for 2 -3 years and then went to a private school to learn piano; to learn enough so that I could write. At the same time, I was calling friends and started rehearsing a band. One day somebody called and said, "Can you get a band together?" I said, "Yeah...." "Can you get it together for tonight?" he continues. I said, "Sure." The he said, "Well, okay, you got this gig. I have a trombone player for you." So he gave me this guy, Steve Pulliam. He was a trombone player for Mon Rivera, with Kako, and before that he played with Buddy and Ella Johnson, who were like a Rhythm & Blues band. Thatís where you see his credits.

EEG: So he was involved in the trombanga movement.

BM: Right. And we became friends. He was an older guy, but we started a band that night with 4 - 5 guys that I never even saw before, because none of the guys I was rehearsing with wanted to do this gig.

EEG: But you were still listening to Jazz. Who were your Jazz influences at that time?

BM: Art Blakey, Horace Silver, Donald Byrd, Dizzy... the hard Bop of the movement -- the funky Bop. I listen to those kinds a lot to this day... Kenny Dorham, Hank Mobley, Lee Morgan, those guys... all the Blue Note. I listen to a lot of Blue Note records, to a lot of Atlantic records, a lot of Ray Charles, Milt Jackson, a lot of the Prestige albums, too.

Steve Pulliam helped me get musicians together to start a band. The first gig we did was a jam session. I had some songs, so I called a bass player that I was in the army with, who was recommended to me by my friend Oneil Abel, which I went to school with. I called this guy, Al Dorsey, who wound up playing with the TNT Band.

EEG: Is that the Al Dorsey from Bobby Rodriguez y la CompaŮia. He recently passed away, no?

BM: Exactly. He and Steve Pulliam went into the TNT Band at the same time they were in my band. So we start rehearsing, and Steve says, "You know, we need some arrangements." He showed me how to write music. He showed me how to copy the score for the whole band and write out the different parts. If you saw how sloppy those parts were, you wouldnít believe it today! (LAUGHTER) So we started playing a few little gigs here and there -- a lot of original stuff. I was very impressed at that time by Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66. So I said, "Iím going to do that with Latin Music. Iím going to have two girls in the group, like Sergio Mendes." So I had two girls in the group singing chorus.

EEG: Two good-looking girls? (LAUGHTER)

BM: Absolutely! And the three of us sang --me and the two girls. And each one of us would take turns singing lead on different tunes. Hereís a funny story: I was in a record store...I used to go in looking for the bargains. I was always looking at the US $1.98 section , you know, to find a Blue Note record, to find the stuff that I love. And I made friends with this guy that worked in the record store; they called him "Big George." He was a big guy, smoked cigars, and he asked me what I did. I said, "Oh, Iím a musician." Meanwhile, I still had my day job; I didnít quit my day job. And he says, "You have a Latin Band?" I said, "Yeah." I had taped a rehearsal; I gave him a cassette of the rehearsal. And he says, "Come with me." And he takes me across the street from the record store, which was on Broadway. He took me to this office building. We go into this office and there is a guy there named Joe Cain.

EEG: Joe Cain? The producer?

BM: Yeah. He produced for Fania, for Tico... That time he was known for producing Joe Cuba. He produced "To be with you." The boogaloo movement was getting off the ground at this point. And the thing is, I have already auditioned for Cotique records! But they didnít like the material that we had. So he takes me to this office to meet Joe Cain, and he walks in and he says -- he doesnít even introduce me --, " Hey, Joe, Bobby has the best fucking Latin Band in New York City!" (LAUGHTER) Exactly like that! My mouth is open, because Iím saying. "Really? Eddie Palmieri doesnít count? Mongo doesnít count? I donít think so, but Iím not saying anything!" At this point, you know, my idol is Mongo SantamarŪa, who I had a chance to meet years before, when I was working with "Los Congueros." He was somebody you could talk to. And Machito, and Eddie Palmieri ... these people were my idols. And heís telling this guy that I had the best band in New York City. Not the best band, but the best fucking band Latin band in New York City. And Joe says, "Really? You want to make a demo?" So he sets up a recording date to make a demo. I didnít have a bongocero, so I called Ralphie Marzan. Tito Jimenez was supposed to be the bongů. He was on the Alegre All-Stars. He used to work with Johnny Zamot. But Tito couldnít make it, so he gave me Ralphieís number. And Ralphie says, "Bobby I have never worked with you before...You have to pay me." I said, "Ralphie, I donít have any money." He says, "Okay, give me U.S. $15.00." He was the only one that got paid for this date. I paid him out of my pocket. After that he became my bongocero, because he was so beautiful, he was so on the money. He became Johnny Pachecoís bongocero for many, many years. Ralphie was the one that used to take me to his house and play me all the originals of the music that Pacheco was copying at that time - Pacheco y su Tumbao. He was copying ChappotŪn, Arsenio RodrŪguez.... So we did this demo with Al Dorsey, Steve Pulliam, Ralphie Marzan, and the Saxophone player, Rico Henderson.

EEG: Was it Latin Jazz?

BM: The demo we made was Boogaloo, pure Boogaloo. The next thing I know is that he told us that we had a deal! We signed in September. I remember we went into the studio in Thanksgiving, in November that year. The record doesnít come out until July. They didnít do any advertising.

EEG: What label?

BM: Phillips. The label was Phillips. And then September 1rst comes out, and they say, "We are not renewing your contract, because you havenít sold enough units." Well, I didnít know enough...

EEG: Whatís the name of the record?

BM: It was called "My Latin Soul". "My Latin SoulĒ, unbeknown to me, was a bomb in New York, it died in New York. It became a collectorís item in Europe, which I didnít find out until years later. From there I went to another label -- Speed Records --, which was going to go bankrupt, and I didnít know it. So an album never came out; but three singles came out. The singles that came out were: "Sangre del Barrio"-- Manny Roman was the singer (He sang "Eras" for Ray Barreto); "Oye, mi querida," -- a Son Montuno -- which Manny also sang; and one in English, "Return to Spanish Harlem," with Tony Middleton.

EEG: Do you get any royalties from "My Latin Soul"?

BM: I get some writerís loyalties from England, Spain, Israel, and Italy. I did get some artistís royalties when Ubiquity (his current "Home") decided to reissue it. They gave me a check for it.

I remember that when "My Latin Soul" came out, I didnít have enough work with my band. I tried to use that LP to get work in some of the clubs, and I did get work in some of the clubs in New York. Louie Ramirez, who was a friend of mine at that time, recommended me to his uncle, who was Joe Loco. In 1968 I went into Joe Locoís Band to play timbales.

EEG: You know, during the Palladium years, Tito Puente, Tito Rodriguez, and Machito were the "3 Kings." Joe Loco also played there at that time, but for some reason he never got the recognition. Tell me about him.

BM: Joe Loco was a tremendous musician, who played a lot more than piano - he was a composer, he played trombone with Count Basie in the forties. The fifties was his heyday, when he was probably the first Latin Artist to take American Standards and even Doo-Wop tunes, Rhythm & Blues tunes, and put them into Mambo. You would hear songs like "Tenderly" as a Mambo, or "Gee", which was one of the first Doo-Wop tunes.

When I played with Joe Loco, he was already coming back from the West Coast. He brought some of the musicians with him, but he had a band that was kind of a crossover Latin Pop band, and he was working in Atlantic City. At that time, the people that were going to the hotel in Atlantic City didnít want to hear any crossover; they wanted to dance Mambo. They were hard-core Latin dancers and they wanted that. So he fired the bass player, the guitar player, and the drummer. And he hired a bass player from New York - Joe Rivera -, who used to play with Eddie Palmieri. As a matter of fact, his picture is in the first Eddie Palmieri album cover. He hired me on timbales. He wanted Louie Ramirez, who was his nephew, but Louie was busy with Pete Bonet. He and Pete had a band at that time. So I ended working that summer with Joe loco. Thatís when my album came out, but I was making a lot more money working with Joe Loco that I ever got from my album.

 My album was a failure and I wound up taking different kinds of jobs. I wound up working in the same record store that this guy has given me the job; the one that got me into my recording. I remember working in the store one day, and this guy comes in, and heís a dance teacher somewhere in Tennessee or Virginia or someplace in the middle of the United States. He says, ďI need a good Latin dance album." And Iím playing him album after album of Machito and Eddie Palmieri, and he doesnít want any of that stuff. He says, "You know, I bought an album a couple of years ago that Iím crazy about and I want to know if this guy ever recorded another album." I said, "What album was it?" He said, ďĎMy Latin Soulí by Bobby Matos." And I fell down. (LAUGHTER) I said, "You bought that?" He said, "Yeah, man. I bought ten copies and brought it down to Tennessee and all my dance teachers that work for me wanted that album." I said, "Iím Bobby Matos and I donít have a record deal." And I didnít have a record deal for years after that. I didnít even want to be a band leader after that, because I didnít see any money in it.

I saw that a lot of the artists that have been recording for Fania and for Cotique were making money with Boogaloo -- Willie Colůn, Joe Bataan, all these guys... The TNT Band wound up with half of my band, you know. They were making some headway and I was better off working as a sideman. I cultivated that aspect for quite some time. I wound up being a sideman. I started getting some record dates and work with different people. Actually, that summer that I went with Joe Loco, I was already doing a record date with a song writer named Ray Rivera. Ray Rivera wrote "Cuchifrito Man," which was a hit for Cal Tjader at one time. He also wrote "Los JŪbaros," which Eddie Palmieri did with Cal Tjader.

EEG: Was the "Cuchifrito" Circuit active at that time?

BM: It was very active. Places like the Bronx Casino... we would work gigs like that. We would play one set and would get half of the money that we needed to pay the band. In order to get the rest of the money, we had to go play an after-hours set some place, in order to pay US $20.00 - 30.00 apiece. It was a struggle to keep a band working. So by the time the album came out, I found myself getting away from being a band leader. At the same time, all the people started recommending work for me. Remember a band called "Gilberto Sextet"? They were like the rival of Joe Cuba. Gilberto started recommending me for some gigs, gigs that they would double-book some place. So at that time I started working with smaller bands...

EEG: So what happened next?

BM: Well, I was working with a little sextet. Andy Harlow was the vibes player and he was also playing saxophone, flute. Thatís when I met Johnny Almendra, when he was sixteen. Johnny Colůn introduced me to Johnny Almendra. He was playing bongů with Johnny Colůn. He said, "Heís just a friend of ours, he sits in with us, but wants to know if he can sit with you guys, too" Heís shy Heís 16 years old, and he was a great percussionist. So, after that, he was on a gig. I was paying him US $20.00 a night or something like that. The rest of us were making US $30.00...Wow!!! I saw in him myself when I was younger. I was probably in my mid-twenties at that time.

I stayed in New York for a little while... maybe I hit thirty. I was working with a lot of different bands and doing a lot of recordings. Jim Croce was one of them. I did a lot of recordings with great rhythm sections, doing a lot of R& B. I did a commercial with Chico Hamilton, where I was playing conga. We did another one with Eric Gale, where Candido played the congas and I was playing timbales. I think Candidoís wife called me for that gig. I was living next door to Mongo Santamaria. We used to rehearse in the same studio. I would see his son all the time. I would see Marty Sheller. I met Justo Almario, who was hanging out a lot with Ray Armando. His album (Armandoís) is finally coming out in September, I think... his first album. Sixty-two years old and he is coming out with his first album. Ray was a conga player in New York City; he played with everybody you can think of.

EEG: Under what label is it coming out?

BM: Cubop. They let me produce it. He played Brazilian percussion with Stan Getz, congas with Mongo and Puente, Cal Tjader, George Benson, Gato Barbieri... Ray was a big influence on me in New York, too. We played in each otherís band. We had little sextets...

EEG: Speaking of influences...Who are your percussion influences?

BM: Mongo, Patato, Willie Bobo...Willie was a big influence. I got to see Willie a lot. I went to a few of Willieís recordings sessions. Puente, Kako, Manny Oquendo... Manny Oquendo is still my favorite timbalero to this day, you know.

EEG: What Cuban timbaleros do you like?

BM: Orestes (Vilatů)!!! But I donít play anything like Orestes! He is not my influence in my playing. I mean, he amazes me; I love him, you know. The other one is Walfredo De Los Reyes, Sr.

EEG: So what made you leave New York?

BM: Well, years of playing conga, I think, have damaged the circulation in my fingers so badly that, when is cold, the circulation stops, and my fingers turn white -- like snow --, and I feel pain in the joints. So I said, "I got to get away from this snow!"

One year -- Ď72 or Ď73 --,  I was on this little mini-tour with "The Rascals," the Rock & Roll group. We came to California; we came first to San Francisco. And I said, "I like California!" Then I had a friend who moved to L.A. -- one of my former students -- that would write me all the time. So he told me, "Hey, if you come out here, you can stay with me, until you get your own place." So I came out here. I sold everything I had -- my stereo, my piano... everything! Just took my timbales and my congas. I mailed my records ahead of time. Some of my Machito records got lost; I always figured that somebody in the Post Office had good taste and walked away with my Machito records (LAUGHTER).

But I came out here and I was playing in a few little groups around town, and one day I ran into Joe Bataan in a music store. We were good buddies back in New York, so he invited me to a party. I go to this party and I ran into Ralphie Pagan, who I also knew in New York. And Ralphie said, "Bobby, you are just the man I need to see. I have a little group over here; they can play all my R & B, but they canít play any of my Latin stuff. You want to join the band, play congas, and whip these guys into shape?" So I joined Ralphie Pagan, and I worked with these guys.

I had sworn that I would never be a leader again. Finally, I couldnít get anywhere with the organ player; he just wasnít hearing, so I fired the organ player and hired a piano player, a bass player, and somebody else to play conga. I became the musical director for Ralphie Pagan. And then Ralphie started getting us work as a group, but he was out of town. One thing or another happened and Ralphie and I fell out, which was unfortunate, because Ralphieís brother and I became very, very good friends. As a matter of fact, heís played in the "Collage" album; heís the one that arranged "Traiciůn". Also, I got involved in a relationship that was very self-destructive. I was almost consumed by this relationship. I couldnít see it at that time and I almost stopped playing music. When I got out of that relationship, it was like waking up from a sleep... like "Sleeping Beauty". I made a new group, which was a "Folklůrico" group, just to play Rumba and Bata...

EEG: What year was that?

BM: 1979. In 1980, I think, that group evolved from a Folklůrico group to a Latin Jazz group. I was trying to do a group that did Latin Jazz and Folklůrico at the same time. We would play Rumba, Guanguanců and Lucumi rhythms and Bata, Chekere... all that stuff, and at the same time play Coltrane and Miles...

EEG: By the way, what is your definition of Latin Jazz?

BM: My definition of Latin Jazz is that it is really Afro-Cuban Jazz -- as Mario BauzŠ used to say -- and that it is Afro Cuban rhythms with Jazz harmonies and Jazz influenced solos. Even when you are playing something that is very, very "tŪpico" -- Guajira, Son Montuno -- the solo is blowing. The solo is a Jazz concept. When Cachao does it, is a Descarga; when we do it, is Latin Jazz. Whatís the difference?

EEG: So...what happened to your group?

BM: My group kept evolving throughout the years. At some point we did an L.P. Some of the tracks in that L.P. are now in the "Collage" album.

EEG: What was the name of the L.P. and what was the label?

BM: It was called "Heritage Ensemble." It came out in 1983-84, and it was on a label that we started called "Enclave." Itís not available anymore, but almost all that music has been reissued on either the "Collage" or "Sessions" albums.

EEG: Then you recorded "Collage"...

BM: Yes, "Collage" followed "Heritage Ensemble," but two of the songs in the "Collage" album were from the "Heritage" album. We just added them to make it longer.

EEG: "Heritage Ensemble" was the name of your group at that time.

BM: Yes...

EEG: Letís go back to your L.P, Heritage Ensemble. How did this one come about?

BM: I just thought that it was important to have some product out, you know. We saved some money and I made the connection to go into the studio. We recorded little by little. When we ran out of money, we stopped. When we had some more money, we went back in. I was teaching drums all this time, and one of my students, who became good friend of mine, gave me a lift one day in his truck. And I said, "Put this tape in." And he said, "Whatís that?" "Itís some stuff Iím working on. I donít have enough money to finish it." He said, "Really? How much money do you need?" And he went in partners with me.

EEG: Do you recall which musicians were part of that recording?

BM: Michael Turre, who still works with me. Miguel Cruz played on one track. Poncho Sanchez played on one tune. Danilo Lozano played flute and percussion. Artie Webb... A lot of these musicians went on to the "Collage" album.

EEG: So how did the record do?

BM: Well, the record got us into the radio. Chuck Niles played it a little bit. That time was KKGO, the Jazz Station. "Alma del Barrio" played us in Los Angeles. It made possible for us to get a little bit of work.

For the next recording, I wrote a grant to the California Arts Council, which is a State Agency, and I got it. I got a 3-year Multi-Cultural Entry Level Grant. It was US $2,000.00 a year. After the second and third year, I had to find matching funds. "Collage" was mostly produced with that money. Then I had that album and I leased it to this other label. Then I got another grant and I was back in the studio already working in some other stuff. I had no idea of what I was going to do with it, but I knew that I had to keep recording new material.

EEG: Was "Collage" successful?

BM: Not really sure, because it was a very strange deal and Iím not really sure what the mechanicals were. There were some things connected to that deal that shouldnít have been. So I never really got the right count. And I never really cared, because what it did do for me is that it got us on the radio, especially the song "Traiciůn." "Traiciůn," at the same time, was also picked up to be in a compilation CD, called "Latino, Latino," which featured artists from L.A. They really owned that track, but they let me have it for the "CollageĒ album, only.

I was working on some new recordings, and I got a phone call from this guy who tells me that he liked one of the songs on the "Collage" CD, and he wanted to lease it for a compilation, but the owner of the label didnít want to lease it to him. He wanted to lease "The creator has a Master Plan." He said, "Do you have any influence with this guy?" I said, "Not much." He said, "What are you doing now?" I said, "Well, Iím actually in the studio right now. I got three things kind of done." He says, "Send me a cassette." I said, "They are not mixed." He said, "Send me a cassette." So I sent him a cassette, and he sent me back a letter offering me a deal.

EEG: That would be Cubop (The label)? Who was the guy?

BM: Yes, that was the people at Cubop. The guy was Michael McFadin, who is the President of the label. And I told them the story with the "Collage" material, that is was only a lease deal and that when the lease was up, the material reverted back to me. At that time I offered it to him, if he still wanted it. He bought that material and released a lot of it on the "Sessions" CD. Itís not all the "Collage album"; itís also some tracks that were leftovers from different sessions. This is why we call it "Sessions." It has tracks from about 4 o 5 different recording sessions over a 14-year period.

EEG: So what made him decide to re-release "My Latin Soul"?

BM: Because "My Latin Soul", unbeknown to me, was an underground "cult" hit. It was popular in Israel and Spain. It was a hit in London. When I was in "Miami Spice" (a dancing club in Marina del Rey, CA), we were trying to sell the "Heritage Ensemble" LP, and this guy comes over to me, and says, "Do you have any copies of the first album?" I said, "My first album?" "Yeah! ĎMy Latin Soulí!" I said, "No." He said, "Man! Thatís a big collectorís item in London! I would love to get a copy of that; it would sell for hundreds of dollars in London." You know, it was out of print for years. I thought that that was a record that nobody bought. I used to joke with Mark Weinstein, the trombone player, that the "Cuban Roots" album and the "My Latin Soul" album sold only 4-5 copies. I said, "How many copies did you sell?" "Well, let me see...my mother bought one, my father bought one..." (LAUGHTER) He would say, "Hey! I have more relatives than you! I sold more copies!" Michael (McFadin) knew about this, because he came into the record business selling rare records.

EEG: And, as far as I know, you are the first "Latin Jazz" artist for Cubop?

BM: Yes, yes. They actually had albums in that label before me, but they were tracks that they bought or licensed from other artists. But I was the first artist to record specially for Cubop.

EEG: Okay. "Collage" was followed by "Changůís Dance.Ē

BM: "Changůís Dance" was a work that we put everything we could think of. I mean, we put the kitchenís sink. "Todos los hierros" went into this one, man. We put in Charanga, poetry, drama, Afro-Cuban Jazz, Bata, guiro, chekere... My son played chekere on it. He was nine years old and he played chekere on it. We put 75 minutes worth of music on this album. We didnít know if we would ever get another chance, you know, so we put everything we had into it! (LAUGHTER) And that could be a little dangerous because you can wind up with something that is nothing. Fortunately, I had some wonderful musicians with me; some people that are still with me today -- Victor Cegarra, Michael Turre, Robertito (Melťndez)... And everybody came up with suggestions. We put two beautiful pieces of poetry by Nicolas Guillťn, from Cuba, into that music. A little of everything that I love went into that album. A lot of energy. A lot of very high energy. I brought Ray Armando to the studio with me to record on some tracks. He took some congas solos, specially the quinto solo on "Conga Conversation."

EEG: Do the people from Cubop give you a lot of freedom in your recordings?

BM: Well, I already recorded 3 tunes before we signed the deal, because I was partially produced on a grant. And yeah, they told me what they were going to offer me, what kind of budget they would give me... First thing I said was "No.Ē I was holding up for a bigger budget, because I knew the realities of how much time it was going to consume to finish what I wanted to do. The first tracks that I did, that they heard, that sold them, were "So what / Impressions," a combination Miles, Coltrane, and Mambo. And a conga solo in the middle of it. They liked that idea right away. Then we did Paquito Dí Riveraís "Chucho," which is really the Blues -- same key, so what? They liked that idea of Blues, Jazz, conga, and lots of rhythm. And then we even got daring: we added batŠ, chekere, a lot of stuff that we wanted to make the record of our dreams. For me, when I go into the studio to produce a record, Iím producing something that I wish I could listen to, because I love this music, and I hear the possibilities of these combinations. Why not put batŠ and Mozambique together? Why not?

EEG: Did you feel happy with the result?

BM: I loved it! I was very excited with the end product of "Changůís Dance.Ē I felt very, very strongly about it, and I thought it made a hell of a statement. In fact, it was an extra-long album. The vinyl was two LPs, you know. "Changůís Dance" and "Footprints" were on vinyl.

EEG: As a matter of fact, "Footprints" was your next recording. You got Jerry GonzŠlez on that one.

BM: Everybody was listening to Jerry GonzŠlez and the Fort Apache Band at that time, because he really started to change the way that Latin Jazz could be perceived. Even on "Changůís Dance," we recorded "Highway One", because I was trying to find an arrangement that would work with that Fort Apache concept of shifting rhythms.

So they told me that Jerry was in San Francisco mixing one of his albums, and they gave me the number to Fantasy Studios. Actually, Albert Torres (THE Promoter) told me that Jerry was up there. So I called Jerry at his hotel; we know each other from New York for years. I told him, "I want you to play trumpet in two tunes. One of them is ĎOferere,í and the other one is John Coltraneís ĎNaimaí." He said, "Oh, I have the music for ĎNaimaí; Iíll just work on it. And ĎOferereí... I know that tune. Everybody that plays Rumba, batŠ, they know that. Itís a SanterŪa tune; itís a song for Changů." And I told him, "The other one would just be a percussion jam session. You play conga, we play batŠ. Weíll do like a BatŠ-Rumba." And, you know, Ubiquity (Cubop) wasnít ready for this. I said, "Listen, just give me a budget. Just give me some money to pay for the cats. Iím not going to get a chance to record Jerry again." So we took Jerry in, we worked that afternoon, and we came out with three very nice tracks. And Jerry for "Oferere" really outdid himself. He said, "Let me do the harmonies. I donít want anybody else to do the harmonies." So he went in and did about five different horn tracks! And he started remembering all the parts of the melody that I didnít, because of all the different llames/calls. He made it even denser. I started listening to it, and I said, "You know what? Iím not going to put bass and piano or anything else on there. Iím just going to leave it with the percussion and the horns," because it sounded so right the way it was, you know. That was the beginnings of the "Footprints" CD. Then I did two more sessions for "Footprints". I really felt that "Footprints" was the best thing that I have ever done in the studio. I was not trying to throw the whole kitchen sink in it; I was just trying to make a well-rounded album. In this album we used two trombones and two saxes; before, we were doing two trombones and one sax.

EEG: "Sessions" was your next CD. Tell me about it.

BM: "Sessions" was a compilation of stuff that was leftover; there was one track that was left over from the "Footprints" album for which we didnít have enough space for. There were also tracks from the "Collage" album. Cubop bought the "Collage" master from me. Then they said, "We donít want to just release it as ĎCollage.í We want to release some of it, and then we want to release this leftover." "Chameleon" was from the "Footprints" album, but it would have made it too long. So, I wound up with three different mixes of "Chameleon": one with the whole band, and one that just had the tenor sax, bass, and the batŠ. Then I re-mixed "God of the Crossroads." Thatís why we called it "Sessions," because it was just tracks from so many different recordings. It was not recorded as a "concept" album. "Changůís Dance" and "Footprints" were recorded as concept albums.

EEG: So the "Live" recording came, because you wanted to...

BM: I always wanted to do a "live" album. What happened is that they offered us this concert in MOCA (Museum Of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, California). They told me, "We are going to be recording that night. We need you to write this into the contract." And I said, "What is it for?" And they said, "Well, we are doing a compilation album of all these different artists that worked in MOCA. Itís going to be a fund raiser for the Museum. We donít even know if we are going to use anything that you are going to do, but we want your permission if we do use one of the tunes -- it will be only one song --, then weíll pay you for it." And I said, "Okay, sounds great to me! Who gets the tapes?" And they said, "Do you want them?" I said, "Yes, I want them!" Then they said, "Okay, you can have them." So, I said, "Write it in the contract." They put it in the contract. They gave me the master tapes of the whole concert. And I kept listening to it and I thought, "You know, this is not bad!" So I played it to Cubop and they liked it and said, "Yes!"

I have already been doing the research of how much would it cost me to bring in a mobile recording team into "Catalinaís Bar & Grill" or "Steamers" or any of the places that have a really good piano or good acoustics that I would like to work in. And a respectful audience that is actually listening to the music and not talking all the way to the bass solos. (LAUGHTER) So, that was my next project. I kept trying to sell these guys, "I want to do a live album!", and they kept saying, ďNo, no, we want you to do a studio album."

EEG: And MOCA gave it to you on a silver platter.

BM: They gave it to me. They picked one of them for their compilation, so they paid me twice for that concert; they paid for the use of the recording, which all the musicians got a separate check, and then when I sold it to Ubiquity. Then I paid all the musicians again, so they were all happy. I spent a little amount of money on editing. And, you know, there is almost a whole another that we havenít released. We are thinking about releasing it as well.

EEG: From the same concert?

BM: From the same concert. Actually, that album will probably have a couple of tracks from different places -- maybe one of the tracks from the "Collage" album that didnít get re-released on "Sessions." And maybe an alternate take from the Dave Pike album that I produced. It would be called "Live and More," I think. Itís almost a done deal, but itís not in ink, yet. But itís in pencil right now. (LAUGHTER) So I think that thatís probably going to be the next thing, since it doesnít look like Iím going to get a chance to get into the studio this year. Although I have been going into the studio with Jack Costanzo, Dave Pike, and Ray Armando, producing other artists this year.

EEG: Jack Costanzo? Mr. Bongo?

BM: Jack Costanzo! Mr. Bongo got an album in the can. I have to finish the mastering next week.

EEG: Who else have you been producing? How did you get that role?

BM: Jack Costanzo, Dave Pike, and Ray Armando. They like the sound that I get out of the studio, and they like the mixes that I get on my album, because Iím basically the line producer in all my stuff.

EEG: So which ones are your favorite releases so far?

BM: My favorite studio album is "Footprints," and I like the "Live at MOCA" album a lot.

EEG: Who would you like to work with? What direction would you like your music to take?

BM: John Santos, Jerry Gonzalez, Gilbert Castellanos.... Gilbert and I have something in the can. Lots of cats: Dave Valentin, David SŠnchezÖ I would like to record with a great Cello player, because I love the sound of that instrument. I would like to do stuff with an alto flute.

NOTE: Bobbyís dream came true. He just finished recording a CD, in which both his band and that of John Santos play together. It is, as Bobby said, "very dance-oriented." Tentative release date is March 2001.

EEG: What is your opinion of the Latin Jazz scene today and how do you think its future is going to be?

BM: Healthy, I think, because there are so many different influences and so many new people. Itís unlimited because I think that people now have realized that there are many different ways to play Latin Jazz. I think that lots of different things that we are hearing in Latin Jazz, like Paquito DíRivera brought in Venezuelan sounds, are lovely and nice to hear. So I think that the future is unlimited. I think that the Latin Jazz scene is very, very healthy today.

EEG: Any final thoughts?

BM: I think is important that artists use their music as a focusing tool for higher consciousness, for self-realization, and for the well being of all humanity. I think that artists need to do that.

EEG: Good words of wisdom, sir. Thanks a lot for your time.

BM: Thank you.  

On the liner notes of "My Latin Soul," Symphony Sid wrote, "So look out, folks, this is Bobby Matos first L.P. , and it sounds like the Matos group has arrived and is here to stay." That was in 1968 and, unfortunately, that prediction didnít come true. Now, in the year 2000, I would like to say -- without any fear of being wrong -- that Bobby Matos has finally arrived and is here to stay!