Yomo Toro, Cuatro Guitar Legend Dies at 78

Yomo Toro
One of the legends of Puerto Rican music, guitarist 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.

Victor Guillermo Toro Vega Ramos Rodriguez Acosta (better known as Yomo Toro) was born on July 26th, 1933 in Ensenada (Puerto Rico). Yomo Toro was a renowned cuatro guitar player, who played with legends of the Latin music universe, such as pianist Larry Harlow, the Fania All Stars, and superstar jibaro vocalist Hector Lavoe.

With his cuatro guitar, Yomo Toro performed salsa music as well as jibaro (rural Puerto Rican music). One has to live and experience jibaro music to know how to play it or sing it.

The cuatro is a 10 string guitar from Puerto Rico, derived from the Spanish lute. It is constructed of one piece of wood. Cuatro playing is a dying art on the island of Puerto Rico and is being revived by Puerto Rican islanders, including the art of constructing the cuatro guitar as well as teaching how to play it. Being a novice cuatro player myself, it is a beautiful art, from the wonderful island of Puerto Rico, a Spanish mandolin of sorts. Yomo was able to expose this magnificent instrument to the entire world and also made it fit in on different types of venues.

Yomo Toro played with numerous Latin music stars and instrumentalists, including conga legends Francisco Aguabella (Cuba), Giovanni Hidalgo (Puerto Rico); tres guitar virtuoso Nelson Gonzalez (New York City); pianist, “El Judio Maravilloso” Larry Harlow (New York City); the late vocalist, Hector Lavoe; salsa and Latin jazz luminary, pianist Eddie Palmieri; the Fania All Stars and many, many more. There will be a great gap in salsa music due to this loss. Yomo Toro will be greatly missed.

More information, including biography and discography, at Yomo Toro.

Music Videos

Yomo Toro, Mano a Mano with Nelson González

Yomo Toro with Bravisimo All Stars

Yomo Toro with Larry Harlow Band

Author: Les Moncada

Les Moncada is a former Latin Jazz orchestra leader and conguero for over 40 years. He was born in Oakland, California and currently resides in Sacramento, California.

Les Moncada was an apprentice to conga and batá master Francisco Aguabella, a friend of vibraphonist Cal Tjader, Latin Jazz band leader Pete Escovedo, conguero Armando Peraza and many more.

He has been writing for many years for World Music Central.

Les Moncada’s Facebook site is: Timbales and Congas Bongo Bata and bells.


2 thoughts on “Yomo Toro, Cuatro Guitar Legend Dies at 78”

  1. A good article, but I whole heartedly disagree with your assumption that cuatro playing is a dying artform. There is a conservatory for cuatro studies in Puerto Rico. There are many fine cuatro players today pushing the boundaries and potential of this national instrument of Puerto Rico. Edwin Colon Zayas, Jose Guzman, and young players like Christian Nieves to name but a few a pushing the possibilities of this instrument. The cuatro is estimated to have been around for hundreds of years. Dying no, living YES! Yomo Toro, along with Maso Rivera and Nieves Quintero, are credited largely with organizing and creating the modern standard repetiore for cuatro. I had the pleasure of meeting Yomo, he was a true caballero and will be sorely missed.

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