Tito Puente was born on April 20, 1923, at Harlem Hospital Center in New York City. His family moved frequently, but he spent the majority of his childhood in the Spanish Harlem area of the city. Puente’s father was the foreman at a razorblade factory.
As a child, he was described as hyperactive, and after neighbors complained of hearing seven-year-old Puente beating on pots and window frames, his mother sent him to 25 cent piano lessons. By the age of 10, he switched to percussion, drawing influence from jazz drummer Gene Krupa. He later created a song-and-dance duo with his sister Anna in the 1930s and intended to become a dancer, but an ankle tendon injury prevented him pursuing dance as a career. When the drummer in Machito’s band was drafted to the army, Puente subsequently took his place.
During the 1950s, Puente was at the height of his popularity, and helped to bring Afro-Cuban and Caribbean sounds, like mambo, son, and cha-cha-cha, to mainstream audiences. Puente was so successful playing popular Afro-Cuban rhythms that many people mistakenly identify him as Cuban. Dance Mania, possibly Puente’s most well known album was released in 1958. Later, he moved into more diverse sounds, including pop music, bossa nova and others, eventually settling down with a fusion of Afro-Cuban and Latin jazz genres that became known as “salsa” (a term that he disliked). In 1979, Puente won the first of five Grammy Awards for the albums A Tribute to Benny Moré, On Broadway, Mambo Diablo, and Goza Mi Timbal. In 1990, Puente was awarded the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal. He was also awarded a Grammy at the first Latin Grammy Awards, winning Best Traditional Tropical Album for Mambo Birdland. In 1995, he appeared as himself on the Simpsons episode “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” In early 2000, he shot the music documentaryCalle 54, wearing an all-white outfit with his band. After a show in Puerto Rico on May 31, he suffered a massive heart attack and was flown to New York City for surgery to repair aheart valve, but complications developed and he died during the night of May 31 – June 1, 2000. He was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003.
Tito Puente’s name is often mentioned in a television production called La Epoca, a film about the Palladium era in New York, Afro-Cuban music and rhythms, Mambo and Salsa as dances and music and much more. The film discusses many of Tito Puente’s as well as Arsenio Rodríguez’s contributions, and features interviews with some of the musicians Puente recorded with such as Alfonso “El Panameno” Joseph, Luis Mangual, Julian Lianos and others.
Puente’s youngest son, Tito Puente, Jr., has continued his father’s legacy by presenting many of the same songs in his performances and recordings, while daughter Audrey Puenteis a television meteorologist for WNYW and WWOR-TV in New York City. Puente’s granddaughter, Janeen Puente, is a singer and bandleader. Her band is known as the Janeen Puente Orchestra.
Morales learned several instruments as a child. He played in Venezuela from 1924 to 1930, then returned to Puerto Rico to play with Rafaél Muñoz. He emigrated to New York City in 1935, and played there with Alberto Socarras and Augusto Cohen. In 1939, he and brothers Humberto and Esy put together the Brothers Morales Orchestra. He released the tune “Serenata Ritmica” on Decca Records in 1942, which catapulted him to fame in the mambo and rumbamusic world; his band rivaled Machito’s in popularity in New York in the 1940s.
It was during this time that his orchestra played for the Havana Madrid nightclub.
In 1960 Morales returned to Puerto Rico and played locally; he also worked with Tito Rodríguez, José Luis Moneró, Chano Pozo, Willie Rosario and Tito Puente. Among the musicians who played in Morales’ orchestra were Ray Santos, Jorge López, Rafí Carrero, Juancito Torres, Pin Madera, Ralph Kemp, Pepito Morales, Carlos Medina, Lidio Fuentes, Simón Madera, Ana Carrero, Pellin Rodriguez, and Avilés.
The height of his fame and record production was his production of rumba records with his sextet, done after he gave up the big band idea. His use of the piano as both melody and rhythm was highly innovative at the time. [“Linda Mujer”], [“Campanitas de Cristal”], [“Perfume de Gardenias”], [“Me Pica La Lengua”] and [“Silencio”], all songs composed by others, were four of his big successes in this line.
Charlie Palmieri (November 21, 1927 – September 12, 1988) was a renowned bandleader and musical director of salsa music. He was known as “The Giant of the Keyboards”.
Palmieri’s parents migrated to New York from Ponce, Puerto Rico in 1926 and settled down in the South Bronx where Palmieri (birth name: Carlos Manuel Palmieri) was born. As a child Palmieri taught himself to play the piano by ear. He went to school in the public school system. At age 7 his father enrolled him at The Juilliard School, where he took piano lessons. By the time Palmieri was 14 years old, he participated in many talent contests where they won many prizes with his 5-year old brother, Eddie. It was at this time that his godfather introduced him to the music of the Latin bands - an experience which inspired him to become a musician.
In 1943, when still only 16 years old and still in High School, he made his professional debut as a piano player for the Osario Selasie Band. He graduated from High School in 1946, and immediately went to play for various bands. He made his recording debut with the song “Se Va La Rumba” as a member of the Rafael Muñiz Band.
In October 1947, Tito Puente, the musical director of the Fernando Álvarez Band, was impressed with Palmieri and hired him to play for his band at the Copacabana Club; here he played with Tito until 1953 and during the 1950s he played with various bands. Besides having played with Tito Puente, he played with Pupi Campo’s Band and worked on Jack Paar‘s CBS daytime television show. Palmieri also formed a couple of bands that performed at the Palladium Ballroom - these were however short-lived because of a lack of work. During this time, he also worked as an accompanist for other bands.
Palmieri worked for several years in Chicago, but returned to New York and formed a band called “Charanga La Duboney”. While performing at the Monte Carlo Ballroom, Palmieri heard a young man by the name of Johnny Pacheco playing the flute - the playing so impressed him that he hired him on the spot. The mixture of Pacheco’s flute with the strings of the violins in Palmieri’s band led to the 1960s Charanga craze in the United States. Palmieri was signed by the United Artists Record company and had several Latino hits. Palmieri did however suffer various setbacks - first Pacheco left the band and then United Artists cancelled his contract because of a conflict of interest with their other recording star, Tito Rodríguez. This led to Palmieri’s signing with the Alegre Records label and with whom he had two best selling “hits” with “Como Bailan La Pachanga” and “La Pachanga Se Baila Así”.
When the Charanga craze declined in popularity, Palmieri switched to the new trend, the Boogaloo, by replacing the flute and violins with three trumpets and two trombones, he also dropped the word “Charanga” from his bands’ name and it became known simply as “La Duboney”. In 1965, he scored a hit with “Tengo Máquina y Voy a 60” (Going like 60) and in 1967 with “Hay Que Estar En Algo/Either You Have It or You Don’t”. In 1968, Palmieri recorded “Latin Bugalú” under the Atlantic Records label, which was also released in the United Kingdom.
In the 1970s, Palmieri worked as the musical director for Tito Puente’s television show “El Mundo de Tito Puente” (Tito Puente’s World). He also taught and lectured about Latin music and culture at various educational institutions. After reorganizing his band, Palmieri played the organ and recorded “La Hija de Lola” (Lola’s daughter) and “La Vecina” (The neighbor). In 1971, he provided his organ playing talents to some of his brother’s recordings. In 1978, he added the Melódica to his recording The Heavyweight, an LP recorded for Alegre Records that also featured Bobby Rodríguez on bass, Quique Dávila on timbales, Papiro Allende on congas, Willie Rodríguez on bongoes, Roy Román y Lou Laurita on trumpets, Bobby Nelson on sax, Marco Katz on trombone, Harry Viggiano on tres, and the vocalists Meñique, Julito Villot, and Adalberto Santiago.
In 1980, Palmieri moved back to Puerto Rico but returned to New York for business - on one trip there he suffered a massive heart attack and stroke. He soon recovered and returned to the music world as the member of various bands. On June 1988, he debuted in the United Kingdom accompanied by London’s Robin “King Salsa” Jones.
Palmieri gave private piano lessons to students at the Schuylerville Music Center in the Throggs Neck section of the Bronx in New York. During this time he also appeared in the 1988 movie Salsa.
Four days before his death, Palmieri gave a private show at La Fortaleza in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where he performed solo at the piano for the Governor of Puerto Rico (at the time, Rafael Hernández Colón) and his guests. On September 12, 1988, Charlie Palmieri suffered another heart attack upon his arrival at New York where as the musical director of the Joe Cuba Sextet he was to arrange a concert. He died later that day at Jacobi Hospital in the Bronx.
Another notable friend and colleague of Palmieri’s, as well as a great admirer, was the late Clare Fischer, who chose to kick off his 1989 album,Lembranças (Remembrances), with “C.P.”, a piece dedicated to the composer’s recently departed role model. In Fischer’s words:
“C.P. - Charlie Palmieri - is dedicated to the wonderfully exciting pianist whom I have idolized for years! Charlie left us last year and the sadness I felt shows itself in some of the segments interspersed among the more spirited sections. We will miss him!”
Gilberto Santa Rosa, also known as “El Caballero de la Salsa” (The Gentleman of Salsa) (born August 21, 1962), is a Puerto Ricanbandleader and singer of salsa and bolero.
Santa Rosa was born in Carolina, Puerto Rico, a city in Northeastern Puerto Rico. Here he received his primary and secondary education and became interested in music. He took part in his first concert while a teenager and in 1976, he made his recording debut as a backup singer with the Mario Ortiz Orchestra; soon afterwards he was recruited by La Grande Orchestra, where he became the lead singer. He remained with the orchestra for two years, during which time he met Elias Lopez who helped to mold and polish him as a singer.
During the 1980s, he recorded “Homenaje a Eddie Palmieri” (Tribute to Eddie Palmieri) with the Puerto Rican All Stars. He also recorded with various orchestras, amongst them the Tommy Olivencia Orchestra, the Willie Rosario orchestra and El Gran Combo. Santa Rosa developed a unique style of “soneo” (improvisation) in salsa that permitted him to be successful in both the “tropical” and “romantic” styles of the music.
In 1986, Santa Rosa formed his own band and signed with Combo Records; a string of hits followed, such as “Good Vibration”, “De Amor y Salsa” (Of Love and Salsa), “Punto de Vista” (Point of View), “Vivir Sin Ella” (Living without Her) and “Perspectiva”.
Roberto Roena (born January 16, 1938 in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico) is a salsa music percussionist, orchestra leader, and dancer. Roena was one of the original members of El Gran Combo, Puerto Rico’s first successful salsa music orchestra. He later became the leader of his own band, “Roberto Roena y Su Apollo Sound”, arguably one of the best Latinsalsa bands in Puerto Rico. Roena has also been a long-time member of the Fania All Stars, a salsa supergroup that has enjoyed worldwide success since the 1970s.
Born in the Dulces Labios neighborhood of Mayagüez, Roena took his first steps in the art of dance by staging dance routines with his brother Cuqui at his hometown. When Roberto was nine years old, his family settled in Santurce, where the brothers continued to refine their mambo and cha-cha-chá routines, delighting their public in talent contests. This led to their contract of weekly performances on the television program “La Taberna India” on WKAQ-TV. During the broadcasts, percussionist Rafael Cortijo saw Roena in action. Roena, aside from being a dancer, was a talented at playing percussion Conga drum. Raphal Cortijo took him under his wing and though him how to play Bongos later to become the bongo player for his band.
When Roberto was 16 years old, Cortijo was in need of a bongo player for a group that he was forming. Visualizing a bongo player that could dance and play the cowbell at the same time, Cortijo recruited Roberto to join his new band, and personally taught Roberto how to play both instruments. The group’s name derived from the name of an existing band named “El Combo” in which many of the original band members had been involved. For seven years, Roena was part of Cortijo’s group and his Combo, with Ismael Rivera as vocalist. With that lineup, they toured the major stages of the United States, Europe, and South America. It is worth noting that “Cortijo y Su Combo”, mostly made up of black musicians (of Puerto Rican descent), was the first of its kind to succeed in gaining access to the stages where only white artists were performing, within and outside of Puerto Rico.
Yomo Toro (birth name: Victor Guillermo Toro) was born in Ensenada, within the municipality of Guánica, near the southwestern corner of Puerto Rico. His father, Alberto, drove a truck for the sugarcane mills of the South Porto Rican Sugar Company and played cuatro in a band along with Yomo Toro’s uncles.
Nicknamed “Yomo” by his father, Toro began to play music at age 6. During a live interview on Canto Tropical, on radio station KPFK 90.7FM in Los Angeles, Yomo recalled his father had a cuatro hanging on the wall. “Yomo would practice for about a year, while his dad was away working. One day his father caught him, stormed into the backyard, and began chopping down a tree. Frightened by all the racket, Yomo didn’t realize his father was making a personalized cuatro for him.”
At age 15, Toro formed the string trioLa Bandita de la Escuela (“The Little School Band”). He continued his musical career by performing at events with La Bandita and other trios, all over the island of Puerto Rico, as well as on the radio program La Montaña Canta (The Mountain Sings).
The cuatro is the national instrument of Puerto Rico. Larger than a mandolin, it contains ten strings which generate complex tonesand multiple harmonic series.
The Puerto Rican cuatro spans five courses, tuned in fourths from low to high B-e-a-d’-g’,54321, with B and E in octaves and A, D and G in unisons.
Yomo Toro and his cuatro music became internationally known, when he performed the opening theme song to the 1971 Woody Allen film Bananas.
In the U. S., Toro’s reputation as a cuatro player had already grown steadily throughout the 1950s and 60’s. In the 1970s and 80’s, his concert tours with the Fania All Stars and studio recordings on numerous Willie Colón and Héctor Lavoe albums, made him a musical sensation in Latin America.
William Anthony Colón (born 28 April 1950) is a salsa musician from New York of Puerto Rican descent. Primarily a trombonist, Colón also sings, writes, produces and acts. He is also involved in municipal politics in New York City.
Beyond the trombone, he has also worked as a composer, arranger, and singer, and eventually as a producer and director. Combining elements of jazz, rock, and salsa, his work incorporates the rhythms of traditional music from Cuba, Puerto Rico, Brazil, and “that ‘other’ ancestral homeland, Africa”, representing the mostly one-way flow from Puerto Rico to the New York-based diaspora. "His life and music commute back and forth between his home turf in the Bronx and his ancestral Puerto Rico, with more than casual stop-offs in other musical zones of the Caribbean.“ Colón "makes the relation between diaspora and Caribbean homeland the central theme of his work,” particularly in his 1971 Christmas album, Asalto navideño. The lyrics and music of the songs on this album “enact the diaspora addressing the island culture in a complex, loving but at the same time mildly challenging way.”
He went on to have many successful collaborations with salsa musicians and singers such as Ismael Miranda, Celia Cruz and Soledad Bravo, and singer-songwriter Rubén Blades. On his website, Colón claims to hold the “all time record for sales in the Salsa genre, [having] created 40 productions that have sold more than thirty million records worldwide.”
One significant overarching theme in Colón’s music, which draws from many cultures and several different styles, is an exploration of the competing associations that Puerto Ricans have with their home and with the United States. Colón uses his songs to depict and investigate the problems of living in the U.S. as a Puerto Rican, and also to imply the cultural contributions that Puerto Ricans have to offer.
In 2001, Willie Colón ran for Public Advocate of the City of New York, garnering a respectable 101,393 votes, more than many other citywide candidates.
In addition to serving as a visiting professor and receiving honorary degrees for music and humane letters at various universities, in 1991, Colón received Yale University’s Chubb Fellowship.
In 2006, Willie Colón is portrayed by actor John Ortiz to Marc Anthony's Héctor Lavoe in the movie El Cantante, starring Jennifer Lopez. The movie is about the life of Héctor Lavoe and it covered their early career as the top Salsa Duo from the 1960s through the mid 1970s.
On October 7, 2011, Westchester Hispanic Law Enforcement Association recognized Colón for his social and community activism and support. President Bill Clinton [congratulates Willie Colón and Sherrif George Longworth].
Cuba (birth name: Gilberto Miguel Calderón) was born in New York City, Cuba’s parents moved from Puerto Rico to New York City in the late 1920s and settled in Spanish Harlem, a Latino community located in Manhattan. Cuba was raised in an apartment building where his father had become the owner of a candy store located on the ground floor (street level floor). His father had organized a stickball club called the Young Devils. Stickball was the main sport activity of the neighborhood. After Cuba broke a leg he took up playing the conga and continued to practice with the conga between school and his free time. Eventually he graduated from high school and joined a band.
In 1950, when he was 19 years old, he played for J. Panama and also for a group called La Alfarona X. The group soon disbanded and Cuba enrolled in college to study law. While at college he attended a concert in which Tito Puente performed “Abaniquito”. He went up to Tito and introduced himself as a student and fan and soon they developed what was to become a lifetime friendship. This event motivated Cuba to organize his own band. In 1954, his agent recommended that he change the band’s name from the Jose Calderon Sextet to the Joe Cuba Sextet and the newly named Joe Cuba Sextet made their debut at the Stardust Ballroom.
In 1962, Cuba recorded his first album with the Joe Cuba Sextet, called “To Be With You” featuring the impressive vocals of Cheo Feliciano and Jimmy Sabater Sr. The band became popular in the New York Latin community. The lyrics to Cuba’s music used a mixture of Spanish and English, becoming an important part of the Nuyorican Movement.
In 1965, the Sextet got their first crossover hit with the Latin and soul fusion of “El Pito (I’ll Never Go Back to Georgia)” . The “Never Go Back to Georgia” chant was taken from Dizzy Gillespie’s intro to the seminal Afro-Cuban tune, “Manteca.” Sabater later revealed that “none of us had ever been to Georgia.
Along with fellow Nuyorican artists such as Ray Barretto and Richie Ray, Cuba was at the forefront of the developing Latin soul sound in New York, merging American R&B styles with Afro-Cuban instrumentation. Cuba was one of the key architects behind the emerging Latin Boogaloo sound, which became a popular and influential Latin style in the latter half of the 1960s. In 1966, his band which included timbales, congas, sometimes bongos,bass, vibraphones, and the piano among its musical instruments, scored a "hit” in the United States National Hit Parade List with the song “Bang Bang” - which helped kick off the popularity of the boogaloo. He also had a No. 1 hit, that year in the Billboards with the song “Sock It To Me Baby”. Charlie Palmieri, who was his musical director, died in 1988 of a heart attack upon his arrival to New York from Puerto Rico.
On April 1999, Joe Cuba was inducted into the International Latin Music Hall of Fame. In 2004, he was named Grand Marshall of the Puerto Rican Day Parade celebrated in Yonkers, New York. He was also the director of the Museum of La Salsa, located in Spanish Harlem, Manhattan, New York.
Joe Cuba died on February 15, 2009 in New York City, after being removed from life support. He had been hospitalized for a persistent bacterial infection. Cuba’s remains were cremated at Woodhaven Cemetery. He is survived by his 2 adult children from his first wife (Nina, married in 1960), son Mitchell and daughter Lisa, 3 grandchildren Nicole, Alexis and Rebecca; and his second wife Maria (Married in 1994).
Paul Albert Masvidal (born January 20, 1971) is the guitarist, singer and a founding member of the progressive metal band Cynic and previously led the alternative rock band Æon Spoke.
Paul Masvidal was born in Puerto Rico to Cuban-American civic and business leader Raul Masvidal. Masvidal’s early days were spent in the Miami area where he studied classical guitar from an early age with Carlos Molina. Guitar teacher Dave Weissbrot was a major influence and spurred Masvidal’s love of jazz, Steinberger guitars, and Eastern philosophy; he became an initiate to Kriya Yoga in his late teens and has been a Buddhist practitioner since 2000. Masvidal met drummer Sean Reinert in 1984 at Gulliver Academy and immediately started jamming with him, forming the pre-Cynic Crypha and Seaweed.
Masvidal talks in detail about his experiences in his early life in some posts in his “Metta Mind Journal” series, which he publishes on the music blog MetalSucks.
Cynic released four demos from 1988 though 1991, with Masvidal developing a reputation in the Florida metal scene for his musicianship. In 1989, when Masvidal was in high school, he toured Mexico as a replacement guitarist for the band Death but declined an invitation to permanently join the band in order to remain committed to Cynic. This had many journalists curious at the time, since Death were emerging as an influential and popular underground act, but Masvidal stuck to his guns and claimed to firmly believe in Cynic. However, Masvidal returned to the Death fold replacing guitaristJames Murphy for dates on the international Spiritual Healing tour in 1990, leading in 1991 to Masvidal and fellow Cynic member Reinert being recruited by Death to record the “groundbreaking" Human. In addition, in 1991 Masvidal helped Chicago band Master to record their album On the Seventh Day God Created… Master. Masvidal handled all guitars duties on this album. After finishing their world tour with Death, both Masvidal and Reinert returned to Cynic in 1992.
1993 saw the release of Focus on the Roadrunner label, the only album Cynic recorded until 2008. Roadrunner released a reissue of Focus in 2005 as a special collector’s edition due to high demand. Masvidal also recorded the Cynic spin-off Portal, but by 2007 Cynic returned to touring, featuring Masvidal and Reinert.
Based in Los Angeles, Masvidal studied at Musicians Institute and also formed the ethereal alternative band Æon Spoke with Reinert, described as ‘progressive ethereal rock’ and had a full-length release in 2007 on SPV Records. In 2004, the band received airplay in the UK for the single Silence, including BBC Radio 2 and XFM, leading to numerous UK gigs and radio appearances. The following year, the track Emmanuel appeared in the film What the Bleep Do We Know!? and the band returned to Europe. Their tracks have also appeared on the Warner Brothers television seriesSmallville, One Tree Hill and the motion picture Cry Wolf.
Ben Ratliff of the New York Times referred to Masvidal’s “philosophic lyrics”, stating that he is “a musician who can expand his own sense of calm into an aggressive, extravagant art”.
As an inventor, Masvidal filed a successful patent in 1999 (which was approved in 2002), involving a device to assist voice-disabled individuals. Masvidal’s interest stems from his extensive volunteer work with AIDS patients, the terminally ill and the elderly in the Los Angeles area.
At 17, Rodríguez-López left El Paso to hitchhike around the country for a year in the early 1990s, during which he acquired an addiction to opiates. Eventually he got in touch with friend Cedric Bixler-Zavala who suggested he come back to El Paso. With the help of Bixler-Zavala, he was able to return to El Paso where he could begin to reclaim his life from addiction and join At the Drive-In as backup vocalist and bass guitarist. After receiving a record deal with Flipside Records and recording Acrobatic Tenement with the band, he became their full-time bassist before switching to guitar. After several years and two more critically acclaimed albums, for a variety of reasons, Rodríguez-López and Bixler-Zavala left At the Drive-In and the band went on “indefinite hiatus”. The remaining members, Paul Hinojos, Tony Hajjar, and Jim Ward went on to form Sparta while the duo focused on other projects.
On January 9, 2012, At the Drive-In announced that they were reforming for a tour.
They refocused their efforts on the dub reggae outfit called De Facto which also included Jeremy Michael Ward and Ikey Owens which they had started years before while still in at the Drive-In. Eventually the same collective of musicians in De Facto would be expanded into Rodríguez-López’s new band, The Mars Volta. Once again starting from scratch he wrote and toured with the band which consumed almost all his time and money.
In 2005, Rodríguez-López relocated to Amsterdam, where he eventually wrote and recorded four separate albums. His first solo project was the “Omar Rodríguez-López Quintet”. Rodríguez-López played several live shows in Europe with his quintet, which in 2005 also included three members of The Mars Volta Group (Juan Alderete, Marcel Rodríguez-López and Adrián Terrazas-González) and Money Mark.
The songs featured on this tour later appeared on the album Omar Rodriguez. It was characterized by long, improvisational songs with Dutch titles and no lyrics. The Quintet also performed live with Damo Suzuki, parts of which were recorded and incorporated into a 25-minute EP titled Please Heat This Eventually, which was released in 2007.
During this time Rodríguez-López was also working on The Mars Volta’s 2006 record Amputechture and composing the score to the film El Búfalo de la Noche, a film by Guillermo Arriaga and Jorge Hernandez Aldana simultaneously to his work with the quintet.
On May 29, 2007 Se Dice Bisonte, No Búfalo was released. It was the third full-length solo album by Rodríguez-López. It featured performances by Mars Volta members Cedric Bixler-Zavala, Marcel Rodríguez-López, Juan Alderete, Adrián Terrazas-González as well as cameos by Money Mark, John Frusciante, and John Theodore. It was written and recorded between 2005–2006 in California and Amsterdam.
The Quintet later resurfaced in 2007, now known as “The Rodríguez-López Group” to perform on the “white” stage at The Fuji Rock Festival in Japan on July 28.Performing with the group for the first time were singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala and drummer Thomas Pridgen.
Another new album, Old Money was released in October 2008, with a vinyl version becoming available in early 2009 on the Stones Throw record label.Sonny Kay, co-owner of the former Gold Standard Labs label with Omar, created the album covers (and has done so for the majority of future Omar releases). Two Omar Rodríguez-López solo albums were released in Europe on January 26, 2009 from the Netherlands-based record label Willie Anderson Recordings: Megaritual andDespair. Despair is best described as a field recording, while Megaritual is a collaboration jam between Omar and his brother, Marcel Rodríguez-López.
In mid-2009, a new entity has been created called El Grupo Nuevo de Omar Rodriguez Lopez (the New Omar Rodriguez-Lopez Group) to release the first in a series of three recordings completed in 2006. Thus far these recordings have only been known as the Omar and Zach Hill collaborations. The first recording titledCryptomnesia was released on May 5, 2009. Vocals written and performed by Bixler-Zavala were recorded in 2008. The lineup for this entity is: Omar Rodríguez-López on guitar, Cedric Bixler-Zavala on vocals, Zach Hill on drums, Jonathan Hischke on synth bass, and Juan Alderete on bass.
The Omar Rodriguez-Lopez Group toured Europe in March 2009, supported by Zechs Marquise.
At the end of 2009, Rodríguez-López released three albums, Los Sueños de un Hígado, Xenophanes and Solar Gambling digitally through Rodríguez-López Productions. While Xenophanes was also released on CD and vinyl, Los Suenos De Un Higado and Solar Gambling only had a limited vinyl release. Rodríguez-López also created a video for “Asco Que Conmueve los Puntos Erógenos”, from Xenophanes, and posted it on YouTube on November 30, 2009.
The album Tychozorente was scheduled for release on November 1, 2010; however, it received an early release on September 14, 2010 as a digital download. Another album, titled Cizaña de los Amores, was digitally released on October 11, 2010. CD and vinyl versions of both albums are only available in Europe. Mantra Hiroshima, another Omar and Zach Hill collaboration, was digitally released on November 29, followed next day by Dōitashimashite, album of live material recorded in September during the Omar Rodriguez-Lopez Group’s first US tour. A video for “Agua Dulce de Pulpo” from the upcoming album Un Escorpión Perfumado was also released during that period, and the album itself was released on December 20 in digital form, with CD and vinyl versions to follow.
On April 16, 2011, Omar released Telesterion, a compilation album featuring 38 songs from Omar’s solo albums. Although this has been the only release of 2011, other projects have been hinted at, such as Двойственность вздохов (Russian for Duality of Sighs), a documentary about the Omar Rodriguez-Lopez Group’s Russian mini-tour, directed by Omar and shot by Paco Ibarra. The Vinyl edition of Telesterion also contained artwork for 6 solo albums that have yet to be released, and featured a new track, “Cásate Colmillo”, off of an album supposedly titled The Somnambulists.
Roy Brown Ramírez (born July 18, 1945) is a composer, singer and a fervent believer in the cause for the independence of Puerto Rico. Some of his songs have been performed by several renowned international artists.
In the late 1960’s, Brown enrolled in the University of Puerto Rico. He enjoyed writing poems and while he was a student, he became actively involved in groups against the Vietnam War, poor living conditions, and specially in favor of the independence movement of Puerto Rico. Brown was also involved in the student disturbances which spread throughout the university, by participating in the protest and picket lines.
During this period he recorded two albums, Yo Protesto (1970) and Basta Ya… Revolución. During that decade he also recorded: Roy Brown III, La Profecía de Urayoán and Distancias. Brown’s personal life started to suffer because of his political beliefs. He got into trouble with the police, his father and brother didn’t want anything to do with him and he was fired from his job in the university. His mother was also dying.
In 1988, Brown returned to Puerto Rico and held a concert at the University of Puerto Rico which completely sold out. The first time he held a concert alone at the same place in the 1970s, only thirteen people showed up.
In 2000 he reunited with his Aires Bucaneros partner, Zoraida Santiago. Together they released the album, Bohemia. Showing signs of musical growth, Roy continued to release quality albums in the late 90’s and early 2000s with Poeta en San Juan (1999), Noche de Roy Brown (1999), Album (2000) and Balcon del Fin del Mundo (2004).
In 2006 Brown recorded an album, titled Que Vaya Bien, with Tao Rodríguez-Seeger from The Mammals and Tito Auger, the frontman for Puerto Rican rock group Fiel A La Vega. A single from this record, “El Banquete de Los Sánchez” (whose lyrics were based on an essay by Puerto Rican writer Luis Rafael Sánchez), was censored by some Puerto Rican radio stations due to the use of the slang term “chicho” (a love handle in Puerto Rican Spanish, but erroneously interpreted in this case as a verb tense for the slang term for sexual intercourse, “chichar”). Public backlash against the censorship attempt guaranteed radio airplay and good sales for the record (reportedly 30,000 copies in two months) during late 2006. After marrying Puerto Rican former tennis player Emily Viqueira, Brown moved to Mayagüez, Puerto Rico (Viqueira’s birthplace), where he currently resides.
Bernabé Williams Figueroa Jr. (born September 13, 1968) is a Puerto Rican former professional baseball player and musician. He played his entire 16-year career in Major League Baseball (MLB) with the New York Yankees from 1991 through 2006.
A center fielder, Williams was a member of four World Series championship teams with the Yankees. He ended his career with a .297 batting average, 287 home runs, 1,257 runs batted in (RBI), 1,366 runs scored, and 449 doubles. He was a five-time MLB All-Star and won four Gold Glove Awards. He also won the Silver Slugger Award and American League Championship Series Most Valuable Player Award. Known for his consistency and post-season heroics, Williams is one of the most beloved Yankees of all time and his number, 51, was retired by the Yankees in May 2015.
Williams is also a classically trained guitarist. Following his absence from baseball, he has released two jazz albums. He was nominated for a Latin Grammy in 2009.
Rafael Alers (October 16, 1903 – March 20, 1978) was a musician, composer, bandleader and the first Puerto Rican to compose the music score for a Hollywood feature film.
Alers (birth name: Rafael Alers Gerena) was born in the city of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, to Don Ignacio Alers and Doña Anita Gerena. He received his primary and secondary education in his hometown. The love that he developed for the Puerto Rican Danzas came about at a young age because of the influence which he received from his musically inclined family. He received his first musical instructions from the maestro Juan F. Acosta. With Acosta he learned to play the euphonium, a wind instrument which is essential in the execution of the danza. He also learned to play thetrombone and tuba.
Upon finishing his musical instruction, Alers went to play for various national and international bands and Symphony Orchestras. Eventually, he formed his own band and recorded the Puerto Rican danzas composed by Juan Morel Campos, Manuel Gregorio Tavárez and Ángel Mislan.
In 1933, Alers was the conductor of Carmelo Diaz Soler’s Orchestra, which had a daily segment in a radio program. Alers took charge of the orchestra upon the death of Diaz Soler and in 1935, he felt the inspiration to compose a danza. He composed, what was to become his greatest danza and named it “Violeta” and the following day he played it on the radio.
The public’s acceptance and demand for the danza was so great that the radio station started a “Write the Lyrics to the Danza” contest. They were looking for the right lyrics to go with the musical melody of the danza. The lyrics written by Antonio Cruz Nieves, from the town of Cataño, was selected as the winner. Alers married Catalina Roldan and had four sons (the eldest now deceased) and three daughters. “Violeta” which was the title of his danza, was officially dedicated to his youngest daughter.
Alers was named conductor of the ROTC band of the University of Puerto Rico which in 1946, included a young man by the name of Julito Rodríguez, who was to become a renowned musician himself. Alers became the first Puerto Rican to compose the music score for a Hollywood movie, when he was hired for such a task for the 1956 movie “Crowded Paradise”, directed by Fred Pressburger. Many of his recordings were released in 1960, in a set of 3 volumes, titled “Rafael Alers: Danzas”. Rafael Alers died on March 20, 1978 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
His compositions have been recorded by many artist, including the singer Julita Ross. In 2003, a collection of Rafaels’ recordings was released under the title: “Rafael Alers y su Orchestra, Danzas Vol.1”.
Ray (birth name: Richard Maldonado Morales) was born in Brooklyn, New York City of Puerto Rican parents. They lived in Hoyt Street. Ray’s father, Pacifico Maldonado, was an accomplished guitarist in his native Bayamón, and as such was the Maldonado family’s early musical influence.
Ray’s parents had him take lessons and he started to play the piano when he was only seven years old. His lifelong partnership with Robert “Bobby” Cruz Feliciano started five years later in 1957 when Ray played bass in a group led by Cruz. This combination was the beginning of one the greatest salsa duos in the salsa music industry.
He attended the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, the famed High School of Performing Arts, and the Juilliard School of Music. This experience served to further develop and refine his musical training. In addition, he became well versed in various Latin music genres which were popular at that time the Guajira, the Cha-cha-cha, the Bolero and others.
Ray left Juilliard in 1963, after just one year. He made this choice so that he could get organized and dedicate himself to his own band. This was a year after Cruz joined in as the lead vocalist. In 1965, he signed with Fonseca Records and released his debut album, Ricardo Ray Arrives-Comején. The album included the outstanding hit songs “Mambo Jazz”, “Comején”, “Viva Richie Ray”, “El Mulato”, “Suavito”, “Pa’ Chismoso Tú” and the bolero-cha “Si Te Contaran”. The famous pair recorded some of their finest work during the period that they were with the Fonseca label.
In 1966, the group switched to the Alegre label, coinciding with the arrival of the boogaloo. Ray recorded nine albums with Alegre. He was a part of Tico/Alegre Records until 1970, and during that time he produce such hits as “Richies Jala Jala”, “Mr. Trumpet Man”, “Señor Embajador”, “Aguzate” (Gold Record Award winner), “Amparo Arrebato”, “Traigo De Todo”, and the Spanish version of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way”, called “A Mi Manera”. This song went on to be the most radio played Spanish version of “My Way” during 1970; the song also won the duo a Gold Record Award.
While with Alegre, Ray also recorded two albums for UA Latino. These included “Viva Ricardo” and “El Diferente” (Gold Record Award winner). The band scored a number one hit with the song “Colorín Colorado”, while “El Diferente”, “Feria En Manizales” and “Ay, Compay!”, became number one hits in Latin America.
In 1968, Ray and Cruz had been together professionally for five years, had written most of their songs together, and for the first time in the album Los Durísimos, they shared equal billing in an album cover. This album had such hits as “Agallú”, “Pancho Cristal”, “Adasa”, and “Yo Soy (Babalú)”. Since then the band became officially known as Richie Ray and Bobby Cruz.
Tito Puente, Jr., (born June 2, 1971 in New York City) is a bandleader. He is the son of legendary mambo musician Tito Puente and the brother of local New York City meteorologist Audrey Puente. Puente, Jr. carries on his father’s legacy by presenting, in his performances and recordings, much of his father’s repertoire.
New York-born Tito Puente Jr., son of a Latin music legend known as Rey del Timbal, studied music and composition at his native city, joining a heavy metal band, later, getting involved in Latin music, participating in different local numbers before moving to Miami. Tito Puente Jr.’s debut album called Guarachando, featuring classic “Oye Como Va,” was released by EMI Latin in 1996, a year later, achieving a Billboard award for best video. Combining Afro-Caribbean rhythms, Latin jazz, and club/dance style, the talented musician returned with Sientelo, produced by A.B. Quintanilla and Larry Davis.
Dueño was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. At a young age Dueño’s father, who also loved music, taught him the basics of music and served as his inspiration. Dueño took music classes with the “Maestro” Aruti, with whom he learned about composition and harmony. When an Opera or Zarzuela company visited Puerto Rico, they would hire a local orchestra to play their musical scores. When Dueño was a young man he would be hired to play the flute in many of these orchestras.
In 1879, He composed the music for the Zarzuela “Los Baños de Coamo” (The Baths of Coamo)“ which was originally written by Genaro de Arazamendi, in honor of the hot springs in the town by the same name.
Dueño participated in many literary-musical contests in the Ateneo Puertorriqueño. He won many prizes and honors for his compositions; amongst the pieces honoured were:
”Estudio sobre la Danza Puertorriqueña“ (1914) (A Study of the Puerto Rican Danzas).
However, it was for series of the ”Canciones Escolares“ (1912) (School Songs), which were co-written with Virgilio Dávila and Manuel Fernandez Juncos, that would give him lasting recognition as one of Puerto Rico’s greatest composers. The "Canciones Escolares” not only won the highest honors in the Ateneo but, was also acclaimed and honored at the Pan-American Exposition of 1901. The “Canciones Escolares” became an important part of the Puerto Rican Culture.
Braulio Dueño Colón lived most of his life in the City of Bayamon where he died on April 4, 1934. The City of Bayamon honored the memory of Braulio Dueño Colón by naming a school, a suburb and the municipal cemetery after him.