Ray Barretto, one of the most prolific and influential Latin percussionists of the twentieth century, passed away yesterday, February 17, 2006 at 5 a.m. at the Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, New Jersey.
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Ray Barretto, born on April 29, 1929 in Brooklyn, has refined the integration of Afro-Caribbean rhythms with the improvisational elements of jazz.
Few artists have been as successful over the years at fusing these two genres as Barretto, an undisputed master of this style.
A pioneer of the salsa movement, Barretto achieved international superstardom and released nearly two dozen albums from the late-\'60s until salsa\'s popularity peaked in the mid-1980\'s.
Barretto was taken to the hospital late last month due to a severe deterioration of his health. The percussionist had been recovering from heart bypass surgery and pneumonia.
For over four decades, the conguero and bandleader had been one of the leading forces in Latin jazz. Ray Barretto died at age 76.