Tag Archives: Puerto Rican music

Artist Profiles: Yomo Toro

Yomo Toro – Photo by Verna Gillis/Soundscape

Yomo Toro, a cultural icon for 50 years, was one of Latin music’s most beloved musicians. Victor Guillermo Toro was born on July 26, 1933 in the Guarnica province of Puerto Rico in Ensenada, where a statue of him now stands in the town square.

He began learning cuatro with his father and during his teens performed with many popular and folkloric groups. He moved to New York in 1956, and throughout the ’60s played with such groups as Ramito and Los Panchos.

From the late ’60s through the mid-’70s he hosted a TV show on Channel 41. In 1970, he joined Willie Colon and Hector Lavoe in recording the classic Asalto Navideño, a groundbreaking album that combined New York salsa with traditional Puerto Rican Christmas music and became one of the best-selling salsa albums of all time.

He was a member of the famed Fania All-Stars, which included such artists as Willie Colon, Hector Lavoe, Johnny Pacheco, Bobby Valentin, Roberto Roena, Ray Barretto, Larry Harlow, Cheo Feliciano, and Ismael Miranda, and toured with the band throughout the world.

Yomo Toro

He appeared on more than 150 albums, including over 20 solo albums for Fania, Island, Rounder and Green Linnet Records. He has recorded with such stars as Harry Belafonte, Paul Simon, Linda Ronstadt, David Byrne, and Marc Anthony, made several cross-cultural albums, and worked on the soundtracks of Woody Allen’s Bananas and Crossover Dreams.

In his last years he performed with Larry Harlow and the Latin Legends Band and appeared in the off-Broadway show Sofrito! In addition to performing, he was an accomplished songwriter, particularly of romantic ballads.

In 2012, several press releases came out in June, confirming that Yomo Toro was severely ill, suffering from kidney failure due to many years of high blood pressure.

Yomo Toro died on Saturday, June 30, 2012 at 11:40 pm after more than a month in a New York hospital due to kidney failure.

Discography

* Asalto Navideño
* The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, with Willie Colón and Héctor Lavoe (Fania, 1975)
* Funky Jibaro (Polygram, 1988)
* Gracias (Mango, 1990)
* Las Manos de Oro (Xenophile Records, 1995)
* Celebremos Navidad (Protel, 1996)
* Celebrando Navidad (Ashe Records, 1999)
* Romantico (1999)
* Musica del Mundo Entero (2000)
* Alma de Ramito (Fania, 2000)
* El Espiritu Jibaro (The Jibaro Spirit), with Roswell Rudd (Sunny Side Records, 2007)
* 24 Canciones Inolvidables de R. Hernandez (Combo, 2008)
* La Herencia (Fania, 2008)

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Artist Profiles: Plena Libre

Plena Libre in 2009

Puerto Rican ensemble Plena Libre performs a unique mix of Afro-Puerto Rican plena, salsa, bomba, jazz and other Afro-Caribbean genres.

“Más Libre,”(Freer) was released in October 2000 on RykoLatino. Their eighth recording and third for RykoLatino, came a year after their critically acclaimed “Juntos y Revueltos”. Más Libre drew from an even wider sonic vocabulary – jazz, reggae, salsa, samba, songo, bomba, merengue, and cumbia.

Since their inception in 1994, Plena Libre, led by bassist, arranger, composer and producer Gary Núñez, has become a strong force on the musical scene of Puerto Rico.

Plena Libre was born out of plena jam sessions in which Gary Núñez participated. In those sessions Gary began to focus on this rhythm that had been brushed aside by the more popular salsa and merengue. He also decided to break this genre out of its folkloric mold. Since then, Plena Libre band has been expanding the borders of plena music.

“When I was 20 years old,” remembers Gary, “I met Noel Hernandez, who is now my compadre. He opened my eyes to my Puerto Rican heritage, got me into studying my history and my musical roots. I realized then that, as much as Puerto Rican musicians were known worldwide in many fields of music, the music that was truly traditional to Puerto Rico was hardly known. I wanted to change that, to devote myself to the music that is based on our African heritage, the plena and the bomba. Up to then they were relegated to holiday get-togethers and in danger of disappearing entirely. That’s how Plena Libre, or ‘free plena’ was born.”

Plena Libre has performed hundreds of shows in Puerto Rico, and has toured in the U.S., receiving extraordinary reviews for their performances and for their recordings that have generated over 15 hit songs and sold over 150,000 copies in Puerto Rico alone.

Plena Libre became the first group to hit the charts with a plena tune in almost 15 years with “El Party” from their first recording “Juntos y Revueltos” (1994) that was re-released by RykoLatino (RLCD 1005) for the international market .

In May of 1999 Plena Libre became the first plena group to perform at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum with their unique presentation “Puerto Rico Sabe a Plena”. A crowd of over 5,000 and the critics applauded Plena Libre’s performance that was later broadcast on commercial TV.

Plena Libre

Their list of accomplishments includes an award by the House of Representatives of Puerto Rico’s Legislature (1999), “Fundación Rafael Cepeda” (1997), and an award given by Loiza, the town known as the birth place of the bomba y plena, (1995).

Discography

Juntos y Revueltos I (1994)

Cógelo que Ahí Te Va (1995)

Plena Pa’Ti (1996)

De parranda (1997)

Plena Libre Mix (1998)

Plena Libre (1999)

Juntos y Revueltos II

Más Libre (RykoLatino, 2000)

Estamos Gozando! (Times Square, 2004)

Evolucion (Times Square, 2005)

Plena Al Salsero (Times Square, 2008)

Corazón (Gn Musica, 2012)

Web Site: www.plenalibre.com

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Artist Profiles: Adalberto Santiago

Born in Ciales, Puerto Rico, Adalberto Santiago was influenced and inspired by the vocal styles of Beny Moré, Chapottin, Pancho Alonso and Miguelito Cuni. These free-style singers helped him form a method of singing that has turned him into one of the most popular vocalists of Latin music.

He became the lead vocalist for Ray Barretto’s Orchestra in 1966 and captivated audiences with a string of hits.

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Influential Salsa Vocalist and Composer Ismael Quintana Dies at 78

Puerto Rican salsa singer and composer Ismael Quintana passed away on April 16, 2016 in Colorado. Ismael Quintana was the lead singer of Eddie Palmieri’s famed band called conjunto “La Perfecta.”

Quintana was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico. His family moved to The Bronx borough of New York City when he was only two weeks old. In New York he went to school and while he was still in high school he formed a band with his neighborhood friends.

In 1961, pianist and composer Eddie Palmieri invited Quintana to join “La Perfecta” as lead singer. During the 1960s, Quintana co-wrote some of Palmieri’s major hit songs.

In 1971, Quintana left Palmieri’s band and started a solo career. Between 1974 and 1983, he recorded five albums as a solo artist and a hit song titled “Mi Debilidad” (My Weakness). His solo albums include “Punto y Aparte” (1971); “Dos Imágenes” (1972); “Ismael Quintana” (1974); “Lo Que Estoy Viviendo” (1976); and “Amor, Vida y Sentimiento” (1977).

In addition to “Mi Debilidad”, some of quintana’s most popular songs include “Adoración”, “Muñeca”, “Maestro de rumbero”, and “Puerto Rico.”

Throughout the past decades, Quintana performed and recorded with salsa super band Fania All Stars.

Quintana partially retired from the music world because of health reasons.

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Rounder Records Reissues Los Pleneros de la 21’s Somos Boricuas

Los Pleneros de la 21 - Somos Boricuas / We Are Puerto Rican: Bomba y Plena en Nueva York, one of the legacy albums reissued
Los Pleneros de la 21 – Somos Boricuas / We Are Puerto Rican: Bomba y Plena en Nueva York, one of the legacy albums reissued

Rounder Records has reissued Somos Boricuas / We Are Puerto Rican: Bomba y Plena en Nueva York by Los Pleneros de la 21. The reissue is part of Rounder’s back catalog world music albums released into full digital distribution.

Los Pleneros de la 21 are masters of the African-derived bomba and plena drumming styles of Puerto Rico. Led by drummer and composer Juan José Gutierrez-Rodriguez, this twelve-piece New York-based ensemble that also includes keyboards, bass, and string instruments, is one of the outstanding proponents of traditional Afro-Puerto Rican music.

Buy Somos Boricuas / We Are Puerto Rican: Bomba y Plena en Nueva York

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