Cesta Records Inc



Joe Quijano's CESTA RECORDS Inc

Joe Quijano is the proprietor the recording company, Cesta Records which he formed in the 1960s. Joe was born on September 27, 1935, at Puerta de Tierra, Puerto Rico, his family relocating to New York City in 1941. Over the years he has contributed greatly to the development of Latin music in New York City.


  • Classic salsa
  • Classic descargas, son montunos, guaguanco
  • Classic dance music

Book Joe and his Orchestra
La Gran Orquesta de Joe Quijano

Estimados Amigos,
iBuenas Noticias! Una vez mas el conocido musico Joe Quijano esta disponible para amenizar todas sus actividades sociales, sea en San Juan o en la isla.
El Conjunto Cachana, se compone de 11 musicos para su deleite, o si prefiere el sonido del "Big Band" de antano para sus galas y convenciones, La Gran Orquesta de Joe Quijano, cuenta con 20 musicos para tocarles la musica de ayer y de hoy. 
Llamenos al (787) 726-4621 (939) 645-8930
Contact via web

Joe Quijano El Conjunto Cachana

Dear Music Lovers,
Good News! Renowned musician Joe Quijano is now available for all your social activities. 
Dance to the music of El Conjunto Cachana, composed of 11 members. If you prefer the Big Band sound for your gala affairs and conventions, The Joe Quijano Orchestra, with 20 musicians will delight you and take you back in time. Whether in San Juan or the Island, we can be there!
Call us at (787) 726-4621 (939) 645-8930
Contact via web

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Joe Quijano

'Hey everybody, Quijano's back!'
The history of Latin Music is pretty much like all other musical history, in that it resembles a beautifully quilted mosaic of chance events that serve as catalyst for innovative events and ideas, both at home and outside of its domain. Throughout the music's long trajectory there have been moments that love happened only by chance, but which have inevitably influenced the way most people feet about it, for years to come.

It was no quirk of fate that brought legendary vocalist and musician JOE QUIJANO stateside in December of 2002. Actually, he arrived in Little Ferry, New Jersey in late November to begin work on a project that would reunite him with some of his cronies from the old Bronx neighborhood on Kelly St. !t was a project which he felt was long overdue, and one that contrasts highly from his earlier recordings. l had the pleasure of interviewing him on my show on WBAI the day before his one-night engagement at New York City's SOB's, where he envigorated many an old-time 'pachanguero' with his renditions of such hits as 'La Pachanga Se Baila Asi'. On that night QuIjano reunited various former members of the famed Conjunto Cachana, after which he assumed the chores of putting together his 'dream recording'. I caught up with him in Bellevile, New Jersey a couple of days later, at the Skylight Recording Studios. With a nostalgic gleam in his eye, he recalled how in 1948, at the tender age of fourteen, he first set foot into a Manhattan studio to belt out such fast-paced guarachas as Antar Dahy's 'La Toalla' and Tito Puente's 'Abaniquito', along with his pals Eddle Palmieri and Orlando Marin. The three were just barely into manhood at the time. Then I watched him work his magic in the studio and afterwards we talked a bit, his voice melancholic as he recalled with fondness his association with the great Charlie Palmieri, and how he first began collecting 78 RPMS of Berry More and Orquesta Aragon back in 1951. The men has same fascinating anecdotes. By the time he was 24 years old, Quijano had already traveled to Cuba and it was there that he began formulating in his mind the kind of Cuban conjunto that he wanted to form. He perceived it as an amalgam of Sonora Matancera and Orquesta Aragon, with the swing of La Banda Gigante de Beny More. The rest as they say is history.

Joe Quijano Y Su Orquesta
Joe Quijano Y Su Orquesta

When Joe Quijano debuted in 1957 as e bandleader, his showmanship and fine musical taste were already evidenced in his selection of songs, his choice of musical arrangers and outstanding musicians, and of course his own skillful leadership and playing. During the subsequent years, the 'swinging sixties' as he calls them, Quijano achieved his greatest national prominence as a band leader and percussionist, but his remarkable show business versatility extended well beyond the confines of that arena. He worked for various record labels, in various capacities and learned the ins and outs of the record business. Then came the U.S. Trade Embargo on Cuba and the well dried out. 'La Mata' as he calls it, was no longer there for the picking.

But there was still a vast reservoir of Cuban material which he had collected and which he was now ready to put his own personal stamp on. With Paquito Guzman on vocals, the conjunto hit really big with Parmenio Salazar's 'Yo Soy El Son Cubano' and Abelarda Barroso's 'En Guantanamo'. A succession of hits followed and in 1962, with more than fifteen years of accumulated experience as an entertainer in night clubs, carnavales, film, ballrooms, radio and television, the young pailero began delighting his audiences with his own renditions of standard boleros such as 'Nosotros', 'La Media Vuelta' and 'Es Por Tu Bien'. He recorded on the Coblmbia and Spanoramic labels before launching his own label, Costa Records. The Initial release of 'The World's Most Exciting Latin American Orchestra And Revue' sold one thousand copies in the first six months alone, and subsequently went on to sell over fifty thousand copies (between LPs and CDs) during the next 40 years (not counting of course all the pirate versions). This recording ultimately became a cult classic and is to this day referred to as 'The Nosotros Album'.

The Nosotros Album

Surrounding himself with young, vigorous and adventurous musicians Quijano expanded the conjunto format, turning Cachana into a small big band and one of the most sought after within the dance hall circuit. Out of that dynamic incubator there came many of the outstanding voices of the new 'salsa' movement. He remained at heart a modem traditionalist, and stood his ground, to the vexation at many of his contemporaries. Firmly established as a bolerista, to continued to sing uptempo material, and offered many a rising, sonero schooling in how to play and sing with energy, dexterity and lyricism, without losing the sense of the clave or adhering to sophisticated chord changes. In response to the so-called 'sonido nuevo' he vehemently adhered to a straight ahead, no nonsense, no complicacion tumbao and a swinging mambo feel. And during this time of political correctness the only 'message' to conveyed was that this music was made for having fun. His base was simple, tonica y dominante, montuno y sabor. When Quijano's band played, a good time was had by all.

Joe Quijano and his Conjunto Cachana at the Village Gate NYC
Joe Quijano and his Conjunto Cachana at the Village Gate NYC

By 1970 Quijano was in complete command of a unique and powerful sounding. He fronted an identifiable and highly energetic orchestra and possessed a range of showmanship that was much wider than ever before. And Quijano was the proverbial hitmaker too. Long before there was anything remotely resembling 'saisa romantica', Quijano's haunting interpretations sent out an undefinable electricity that touched female audiences everywhere he played. And while he was quite happy being his own man, he still wanted more than anything else to be accepted by his peers and to become a successful enterpreter and not just a commodity. Often, his ideas were met with hostility. What happened was that instead of imitating the great boleristas which he idolised, Quijano interpreted the bolero in his own way, with humor, warmth and intimate tenderness in every phrase. His voice was richly baritone, and like Tito Rodriguez, very sexy, with a clearly discernable vibrato which became part of a highly recognizable timbre. Once you heard it you could hardly ever again mistake it for anyone else's. He projected this vibrato with a great deal of mood (within its limitations of course) and within the framework of his unique voice there was a shrewd and unstated intelligence which come through as a kind of 'attitude'. A 'New York attitude' if you will. And when it come to picking material, Quijano was 'on the money' as they say. He never seemed unsure or intimidated by a tune, on the contrary, he was always in control of it. There was often this combination of romanticism and good humor that seemed to work well together Tonality, timing, attitude, dramatism, humor, inflection (to a certain degree) and an uncanny knack for picking the tight tunes were all part of 
Joe Quijano's plot for success. This formula worked for him like nothing else ever did. By 1970, he had 'made it big', as they say an Broadway, in a surprisingly swift time. He continued to work and record until the late seventies, when his music started becoming less accessible to the public, 

Joe Quijano in the studio Joe Quijano in the studio
Joe Quijano in the studio

When the emerging popularity of the merengue began to threaten so many other bandleaders, he broke out with the dramatic Chilean ballad 'Maria', which was probably the first bolemengue (bolero/merengue). In that respect, Quijano was surely ahead of his time. Throughout this period he continued to project a very 'latin image' while secretly dreaming of recording something in a more 'sophisticated' vein, an album of popular American standards, like the ones made by Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, set to the big band sound of Machito, Count Basie and Tito Puente. Although he did not actively pursue the idea at great length, deep down inside he knew that someday he would tread on that sacred ground.

Ultimately, Joe Quijano began to feel the impact of the changing times, so much that by 1991 he had relocated to his native Puerto Rico. Still, his 'dream' recording did not disappear from his mind. He acquired same big band arrangements which had originally been commissioned for a very ambitious project that began in the late sixties, one that was to have united the 'chairman of the board' with the 'king of latin music. Needless to say that project never sew the light of day. So here was Quijano, with these monster charts, all dressed up, as they say, and no place to go. His last attempt at recording a successful CD had been in 1999, when he returned to the mainland to record 'A Catano'. Good recording, but alas, no one really noticed it. Although his contributions had never been fully documented, his music was now preserved in a 13 volume CD set. They were all there, the boleros, the guarachas and the mambos. The guajiras, pachangas, sones, merengues, cha cha cha's and the 6/8 bembes. Latin jazz too, and bossa nova as well. Joe Quijano remained a true Latin American artist with a distinctive Cuban / New York sound, an illustrious career that spanned 54 years and a voice that stood the test of time. Still, there was something missing.

Joe Quijano in the studio Joe Quijano in the studio
Joe Quijano in the studio

Fast forward to the year 2002, to the studios of New Jersey's hardest-working 'hit makers' John and Guido Diaz, where fate moved its finger to unite Joe Quijano with pianist Edy Martiinez, bassist Andy Gonzalez, and percussionists Manny Oquendo, Mike Collazo, Willie Villegas and myself, and where the ghosts of Frank Sinatra, Beny More and Nat 'King' Cole have somehow conspired and inspired Mr. Quijano into knitting a symbiosis of musical threads which may yet offer the public a new and genuine groove. Slowly the dream began to unfold, and Quijano's tribute to Sinatra became a reality. The man who had put 'Nosotros' on the musical map had miraculously put together a brand now CD, complete with big band arrangements and a selection of standards that all seemed to have been tailor-made to fit his unique voice and style. As I sit here and write these notes, I feel confident that this recording will someday (soon) provide inspiration far many an up-and-coming vocalist. In spite of a resurgence of the more traditional or 'tipico' styles of music, crossover dreams are still very much on everyone's mind, from Cubanismo to Susie Hansen, and it appears that Mr. Quijano is not quite finished as a trend-setter. This new recording will in my opinion, stand as a living testament to Joe Quijano's endurance and even provide a few skeptics with an insight into the man from Puerta de Tierra. The icing an the cake, without a doubt, is personalized in Quijanos' own lyrical message, dedicated to Mr. Sinatra, with music by Armando Manzanera. It is the last track on the CD. If it doesn't move you to tears then you are either made of stone or have accumulated a considerable amount of wax in your inner ear.

Having had a sneak-peak at what this project is all about I can safely and unambiguously proclaim: 'Hey everybody, Quijano's back!'

CHICO ALVAREZ PERAZA - New York City - April 28, 2003


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