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Ismael Rivera 18 años

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La Panamericana was a big band appreciated in the exclusive ballrooms of San Juan, such as Escambrón Beach Club. But its director, saxophonist Ángel “Lito” Peña (17/07/1921 - 18/06/2002), along with pianist and arranger Héctor Urdaneta, had other ideas and were looking to inject a street youth flavour into their offering.

Ismael Rivera was the main veteran vocalist to have survived and triumphed in the face of the youthful earthquake of 1970s New York salsa. He was renowned as the master of Afro-Caribbean song from his early years in the tropical music circles of the 1950s, when his soneos (the part of the song where the lead vocalist improvises around the backup singers) competed with those of Benny Moré – from whom the star received his nickname, “Sonero Mayor”. This title was fitting not only or precisely due to his seniority among his Fania colleagues. He was different from them also in that his prestige was not the fruit of New York’s multicultural dynamics. Rather, it was identified first and foremost with the neighborhoods of Puerto Rico.

Yannis Ruel

Orquesta Panamericana (con Ismael Rivera) Biography Gallery
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