Santos Colon

Chris Coyne

Santos Colon

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. At age 20, Santos Colón relocated to San Juan where he teamed up with bandleader Miguel Miranda whom he worked with for the next five years.

Ready for bigger challenges Santos Colón moved to New York City, in 1951, and worked with a variety of musical groups until finally landing a job with celebrated pianist/bandleader Jose Curbelo in 1953. Four years later, after vocalist Vicentico Valdes left the celebrated Tito Puente orchestra to seek his own musical career, Santos Colón was introduced to Puente by Tito’s percussionists Mongo Santamaria and Willie Bobo. It was a marriage made in heaven.

Santos Colón’s first recording with the late, great, Puente was the masterpiece album, Dance Mania, which Puente considered his favorite, and, is arguably, his best piece of work. Santos Colón soon became an integral part of the Puente band, touring the world and recording dozens of albums during the ensuing 17 years.

In 1969, Santos Colón recorded his first solo album, A Portrait of Santos, for Fania Records and producer Richard Marin, who wisely elected to draw on the musical prowess of Puente for the album’s musical arrangements; though Puente had never written for strings before. You can sample two of these wonderful recordings in this album, Loco Por Ti and La Iglesia y Tú. Santos Colón’s unique skills are evident in this delightful album, which is expertly supported by the talents of Johnny Pacheco, Larry Harlow and the wonderful South American arranger, Jorge Calandrelli.

In 1971, Santos Colón left the Tito Puente orchestra to become a solo artist, while continuing his profound friendship with the maestro. Once he was free to record on his own he was immediately picked up by the world-renowned Fania All-Stars whose concerts continuously sold out all over the world. Santos Colón had developed the unique method of treating a Salsa arrangement with the same tenderness he exhibits in his boleros, setting him aside from other popular vocalists. Santitos continued his work with the Fania All-Stars while recording additional albums for the label.

Santos Colón died in 1998, leaving a legacy of wonderful music behind for his many fans to enjoy. In this album, Siempre Santitos, we are treated to 12 of the best recordings from the romantic side of Santos Colón; a compilation of truly moving performances by the master of the Latin love song—the incomparable Santos (Santitos) Colón.

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