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Cortijo y su Combo

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Since its formation in the year 1954 until today – half a century after its break up in 1962 -, Cortijo’s combo and its stellar singer, Ismael Rivera, have been the best exponents of a modern, orchestrated and commercial way of performing bomba and plena, Afro-Puerto Rican genres in whose tradition they had been raised in the capital’s neighbourhood of Santurce. To these native rhythms they added other Caribbean ingredients which were popular at the time, creating an integrating and innovative offering that many consider the greatest precedent of the salsa movement that would emerge years later in New York.

The presence of the couple is not only strong in the collective memory and folklore of their country, but their work is still heard on the jukeboxes and in the repertoire of many groups from Puerto Rico, the United States and the Caribbean, standing the test of time and the music trends that have followed. We must not forget either that two of the best active salsa orchestras, El Gran Combo and Roberto Roena y su Apollo Sound, both directed by ex-members of Cortijo’s combo, are direct heirs of this history.

Yannis Ruel

Cortijo y su Combo con Ismael Rivera Biography Gallery
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