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Adolfo Echeverría y su Orquesta

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Born the third of September, 1934 in the barrio of San Roque in Baranquilla, Adolfo Ernesto Echeverría Comas followed in his brother Gil’s footsteps. Gil Echeverría was an admired vocalist on the local scene and was hired in 1972 by the Dominican bandleader Luis María “Billo” Frómeta to accompany him back to Caracas to become the lead singer in Billo’s Caracas Boys. Unfortunately he died tragically in a car accident the day he was supposed to travel to Caracas for his “big break” with Billo, thus cutting short a promising career in music. After several years of drifting in the aftermath of his brother’s devastating death, young Adolfo, who idolized his brother and was both studious and agile of mind, decided to step into the limelight professionally and carry on the family tradition, singing on the radio first, then forming a conjunto and signing with various labels over the years, becoming one of Colombia’s premier composers, interpreters and producers of tropical music. Among many other accolades, he is a winner of five Congo de Oro and one El Cacique de Oro awards; his holiday songs ‘Las cuatro fiestas’ and ‘La Inmaculada’ are recognized as national treasures.

By 1976, he had signed with Fuentes, where he was to remain until 1990 when he suffered a heart attack and was sadly never able to resume his career. Calling his back-up orchestra “La Gran Banda”, he employed El Alcón and Freddy Cruz to help out on vocals, with one sounding more black and the other sounding more white, in a way mirroring Fruko’s formula of having multiple vocalists in his Tesos. Unlike Los Tesos, however, Echeverría wanted to remain true to his love of costeño musical forms (albeit with a more urban New York/Caracas salsa style to the arrangements). His first year with the label was a great success, with his eponymous LP containing his biggest hit, the self-penned cumbia party anthem ‘Amaneciendo’. The following year, working again with the Fuentes hit production team of Isaac Villanueva and Hernán Colorado, Echeverría came out with “Sabroso bacalao!!”, changing his band name to Adolfo Echeverría y su Orquesta and replacing El Alcón with Manuel Cassiani, again sharing the mic, again insuring that one would be Afro-Colombian and the other ‘gallego’. As with the first album, in addition to some hardcore salsa, Echeverría made sure to include his beloved cumbias, porros and a cumbelé. The LP yielded the hit ‘Fantasía Marina’. During his long and successful career, he toured South America. While performing in the US, Adolfo was befriended by Celia Cruz and Tito Puente. Recognizing his songwriting talents, they asked him for a tune and he gave them ‘Salsa de tomate’, inspired by Tito’s notorious hatred of the term salsa, which they recorded for their LP “Alma con alma” (Tico Records, 1971).

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