Latin Music Departed of 2018

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Like most years, I like to take a moment to honor some of the artists that contributed to Latin music and passed away in 2018.

I listed some of them below:

1. Roberto Anglero (May): although Anglero was a percussionist and singer, I think his major contributions were as a songwriter.

He wrote songs for many artists, but one of his main ones was El Gran Combo. One of his most memorable was “ La Salsa de Hoy”.

As an army soldier he saw the injustices of racism, which years later he wrote and sang on the satirical song “Si Dios Fuera Negro”.

He made a funny cameo in one of his last compositions, when Jose Lugo recorded him in a short intro for his song “Parece Que Uno Se Va A Morir”, which was part of Gyasabara’s “Poetic Justice” album.

2. Anthony Cruz (May): one of the pioneers of the Salsa Romántica movement of the 1990’s. Great singer.

3. Joseito Mateo (June): a Music legend in Dominican Republic and Latin America. Joseito was a versatile merengue singer who could sing just about anything.

Joseito Mateo with El Gran Combo
Joseito Mateo basically helped launch El Gran Combo, and therefore, a piece of Salsa history.

He happens to be the singer in the very first recording of El Gran Combo, when producer Alvarez Guedes asked the newly formed band to backup his already famous singer in the album “Menéame los Mangos”.

4. Jose “Chegui” Ramos (June): a singer with a tremendous voice, the young Puerto Rican came to fame with the group Batacumbele.

He later became a sought-after chorus singer for his magnificent voice. He departed way to early.

5. Antonio Barasorda (tenor PR) (July): the Puerto Rican tenor died this year at age 72. Barasorda studied in Spain and went on to perform in venues like the Metropolitan Opera House in New York and the Festival Casals in Puerto Rico.

He also performed in many other venues and operas around the world.

6. Eladio Pérez (July): the Puerto Rican percussionist was perhaps better know for being the conga player of Eddie Palmieri’s Orchestra during the 70’s.

After he relocated back to Puerto Rico, he briefly re-joined Palmieri when he also moved to Puerto Rivo in the 80’s. Eladio also worked with Charlie Palmieri and Roberto Roena during his career.

Eventually ha formed his own band.

7. Emilio “Millito” Cruz (July): a great Puerto Rican cuatro and guitar player, Millito was one of the most recognized talents of the instrument starting in the 70’s.

Millito performed with many artists, and replaced Pedro Guzmán in the famed Puerto Rican folk group Haciendo Punto en Otro Son.

8. Jack Constanzo (August): an American percussionist, he gained fame as “Mr. Bongo” starting in the 1940’s. At that time, he visited Havana, Cuba and learned to play Afro-Cuban rhythms in the bongo and conga.

Jack performed early in his career with Desi Arnaz and Rene Tousett, after having been a dancer with his wife.

He later on went on to perform with Stan Kenton and Nat King Cole, among others before forming his own Afro-Cuban band.

9. Tony Sanchez (November): another great percussionist, Tony excelled in the trap drums, which he learned to play from his father.

Tony Sanchez with Pete Santoni and Ruben Escabi
Tony Sanchez was bandmate of my uncle Ruben Escabi with Pete Santoni y su Combo.

He got to play in the Hotel Normadie in the late 50’s to early 60’s. He also played with Noro Morales, and a plethora of reknown bands and artists.

Sanchez was a founding member of the Puerto Rico All Stars. He also played with Bobby Valentin, particularly in the “Va a la Carcel” albums.

In this last song, we get to appreciate both, Tony Sanchez in the trap drums, and Eladio Perez on congas.

May they all rest in peace!

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