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A discographic profile of the popular Puerto Rican bandleader, trumpeter, musical director and producer.

Profile: Tommy Olivencia by John Child (


(b mid-'30s, Villa Palmeras, Santurce, Puerto Rico) Bandleader, trumpeter, musical director, producer. As well as leading one of P.R.'s best bands, he was a distributor for Alegre Records and a promoter, and is noted for bringing along many fine soneros (improvising Latin singers) who have shared his repertoire and gone out on their own, incl. Paquito Guzmán, Sammy González, Chamaco Ramírez, Lalo Rodríguez, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Frankie Ruiz (1958-1998), Héctor Tricoche. Olivencia started bandleading at 22-years-of-age; his first records were on his own Tioly label; he signed with Inca and released 13 albums (incl. two compilations) on the label between the mid-60s and '78, notable LPs incl. Planté Bandera '75, with Ramírez, Introducing Lalo Rodríguez & Simón Pérez '76, El Negro Chombo '77 and La Primerisima '78, latter two with Guzmán and Pérez, all prod. by the young innovative Luis 'Perico' Ortiz. Ex-Joe Quijano band member Guzmán's solo LPs on Inca incl. the excellent Mintiendo Se Gana Mas '77; he switched to TH (Top Hits, which became TH-Rodven in '87, then dropped TH in '93) for five albums '83-'89, incl. the big hit salsa romántica set Las Mejores Baladas En Salsa '86; then moved to Capitol/EMI Latin '90 for another romántica album. Olivencia switched to TH and released Sweat Trumpet Hot 'Salsa' '78 and Tommy Olivencia & His Orchestra '79 (both prod. by Perico), lead singers on latter Guzmán with Santa Rosa, who went on to work with Willie Rosario '81-'86, then pursued a highly successful solo career from '86 onwards. Ruiz and Carlos Alexis sang lead on Un Triángulo De Triunfo! '81 and Tommy Olivencia '83, Alexis replaced by Héctor Tricoche (a former member of Mikey Cora's Orquesta Cabala and La Terrifica) on Celebrando Otro Aniversario '84, Ruiz's last with Olivencia before commencing a successful but troubled solo career in '85. Olivencia and band backed veteran Colombian singer Nelson Pinedo on his LP Desde Puerto Rico '84 on Audiorama; Olivencia also prod. and Guzmán singing in the chorus. Meanwhile Paquito (Junior) Acosta replaced Ruiz on Olivencia's Ayer, Hoy, Mañana Y Siempre ! '85; Olivencia commemorated 30 years bandleading with the chart-topping 30 Aniversario '87, which incl. the big hit "Lobo Domesticado." Tricoche departed after Olivencia's TH-Rodven finale El Jeque '88 to persue a solo career with the same label, releasing Clase Aparte , Motorizame , A Corazón Abierto , Ese Soy Yo and Aquí Estoy Yo '90-95. Two CD set Oro Salsero: 20 Exitos '94 on Rodven is a recommended compilation from the band's swinging '78-'88 TH and TH-Rodven period, although the '81 Willie Rosario track "El Antifaz" creeps in by mistake. Olivencia signed with Capitol/EMI Latin '90 and released Enamorado Y Que! '91 with lead singers Acosta and Pichy Pérez (the latter on a brief sabbatical from Sonora Ponceña). Completed prison sentence '95 for drugs offence; made major concert comeback at San Juan's Convention Centre Mar. '96. Comeback CD Vive La Leyenda '98 on Rodven/PolyGram Latino was also a reunion with Guzmán, Pérez and Perico, though a return to the band's full swing sound of the early to mid-'80s is still awaited.

-This is one of over 130 Latin music entries written by John Child ( for The Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music, 2nd Edition, edit. Donald Clarke; Penguin Books; 1998; 1524 pages; US$22.95, UKú16.99.

They are published on the Descarga website by kind permission of Mr. Donald Clarke.

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