Yomo Toro

Chris Coyne

Yomo Toro, master of the cuatro (Puerto Rico’s 10-stringed, guitar-like instrument) has been a beloved cultural icon and musical maestro for more than forty years. A resident of New York City since 1956, he has never lost his jíbaro spirit and his delightful presence has pleased thousands of fans throughout the world, while his spectacular playing has astounded audiences throughout …

Tommy Olivencia

Chris Coyne

Tommy Olivencia was the guiding light of the Puerto Rican salsa sound. His renowned orchestra, known as La Primerisima, served as the breeding ground for some of the best vocalist in the history of Latin music. World-renowned singers such as Paquito Guzman, Chamaco Ramirez and Gilberto Santarosa got their start with the Tommy Olivencia Orchestra. A virtuoso trumpet player and …

Tito Rodriguez

Chris Coyne

You won’t find velvety boleros like “Inolvidable” or “Llanto de Luna” in this collection. Focusing on the years that he spent recording for the Tico label, this entry in the La Herencia series presents a different side of Tito Rodríguez, concentrating on more upbeat song formats. The Puerto Rican crooner’s talent for performing spirited mambos and soulful cha cha chas …

Tito Gomez

Chris Coyne

A contemporary of Hector Lavoe, Papo Lucca and top arranger José Febles, Gómez was born in less-than-advantageous conditions in the former Juana Díaz sector of Puerto Rico. Similar to other artists of the time, he first earned his living as a shoeshine boy and by performing farming duties. Gómez grew up on the sounds of the bolero singers and troubadours …

Tipica 73

Chris Coyne

In his liner notes for the original LP, Sonny Bravo wrote that the Típica 73 repertoire and arrangements heard on this recording actually came from informal Monday night jam sessions at a New York club. “There were no charts then,” wrote Bravo describing the band’s collective arranging style. We relied mainly on old charanga standards. I would start off with …

Sonora Ponceña

Chris Coyne

Paying tribute to its native city, this band first hit the scene in Ponce, Puerto Rico. This is also where the band got the name known around the world, “La Sonora Ponceña.” La Sonora Ponceña’s fame and success are due largely to the contributions of Papo Lucca Jr., who took the band over from his father, Don Quique Lucca. Papo …

Santos Colon

Chris Coyne

Angel Santos Vega (Santitos) Colón was born in Sabana Grande, Puerto Rico, in 1924, and raised in the city of Mayaguez where he began his singing career at age 16 when he joined the Frank Madera Orchestra. He subsequently honed his musical skills by working with local musicians like Lester Cole, El Trio Los Huastecos and well-known singer/bandleader Mon Rivera. …

Ruben Blades

Chris Coyne

Rubén Blades has been a distinguished singer, composer, actor, and political figure. He didn’t enter the world of music by accident: he was born and raised in the perfect environment for his future musical training. His Cuban mother, Anoland Bellido de Luna, played the piano, and his Panamanian father, Rubén Blades, played percussion. Under their musical influence, he cultivated his …

Roberto Roena

Chris Coyne

The veterans of salsa form a brotherhood that has been characterized by wooing young talent from other bands. Such was the case with Roberto Roena, who early in his musical career joined the band Cortijo and His Combo, brought on by the departure of the group’s lead singer, Ismael Rivera. With the band, Roberto became known for his stage presence …

Ricardo Ray & Bobby Cruz

Chris Coyne

The duo’s sessions for the Alegre, Tico and Vaya labels are a treasure trove of salsa gems, the albums that they recorded following 1975 showcase Christian swing at its most original, with a more mature Richie Ray fusing Afro-Caribbean rhythms with novel elements of jazz and classical music. Richie and Bobby met as teenagers, growing together in Brooklyn.  Their mothers, …