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08/15/99

A discographic profile of the popular Puerto Rican sonero who fronted El Gran Combo for 15 years before going solo.


Profile: Andy Montañez by John Child (John_Child@descarga.com)

Montañez, Andy (b 7 May '42, Santurce, Puerto Rico) Sonero (improvising salsa singer). Started as a bolero singer with Luis Morales' group; invited to audition for six months with newly formed El Gran Combo '62, stayed for 15 years; his commanding voice became a fundamental part of band's distinctive sound; made 27 LPs with them '62-76 on Gema and EGC. Departed to become co-lead vocalist with Venezuelan band Dimensión Latina '77-80; made nine LPs with them '77-81 on TH (Top Hits), Color (a division of TH) and Velvet: Los Generales de la Salsa (aka Presentanda: Andy Montañez ), Dimensión Latina 78/780 Kilos de Salsa , Inconquistable , Dimensión Latina '79 , Tremenda Dimensión! , Combinación Latina No.4 , Dimensión Latina , Dimensión Latina en el Madison Square Garden , Para Siempre. Made solo album Una Dimensión Desconocida '78 on LAD (a division of TH); began solo career proper with Salsa Con 'Cache' '80 on LAD, Andy Montañez '81, Trovador del Amor c. '81, Solo Boleros '82, all on Velvet. Signed with LAD/TH (became TH-Rodven '87; TH dropped '93, then PolyGram took over '95) for a series of albums incl. Para Ustedes con Sabor! '81, Hoy ... y Ayer '83 (Today and Yesterday), incl. an El Gran Combo hits medley to celebrate their 20th anniversary, both on LAD; TH debut Tania & Andy Montañez '83, Versátil '84; Billboard chart-topper Andy Montañez '85 with all arrs. written by Ernesto Rivera, sons Andy Jr. and Harold singing chorus; duetted with Milagros Hernández on one track on her La Milagros '86; fronted his gigging band on Mejor Acompañado Que Nunca '86 (Better Accompanied Than Ever) led by timbalero Don Perignon (real name: Pedro Morales), incl. Andy Jr. and Harold; after garnering awards in Puerto Rico and Colombia, he made one further album with the band: El Eterno Enamorado '88; returned with Todo Nuevo! '90 with several of PR's choice session musicians, followed-up by El Catedrático de la Salsa '91; got back to some seriously swinging salsa redolent of his recordings a decade earlier on El Swing de Siempre '92, feat. Los Hijos de Andy (Andy Jr., Harold and daughter Liza). Duo of Andy Jr. and Harold made own albums El Comienzo Del Camino '87 and Siguiendo El Camino '89 on MP. Perignon made bandleading solo with La Buena Vida! '89 on TTH with trio of lead singers incl. future solo hit-makers Victor Manuelle and Luisito Carrión, followed by Subíendo '92 on LCR.

Andy celebrated 35 years in the music business '95 with a dance in the Centro de Convenciones, Condado, PR; El Gran Combo, Dimensión Latina and others also participated. Made Rodven finale in robust form with Vengo A Decir '95. Contributed lead vocals to one track on Fania All Stars' Bravo '97 on Jerry Masucci Music/ Sony and two tracks on Roberto Clemente: Un Tributo Musical '98 on RykoLatino. For the 15th National Day of Salsa on 15 Mar. '98 at the Juan Ramón Loubriel Stadium, Bayamón, PR, Andy Jr. joined forces with singers Ismael Rivera Jr. and Puchy Rodríguez (respectively the sons of legendary Puerto Rican soneros Ismael Rivera and Pellín Rodríguez) to pay tribute to their famous fathers accompanied by Roberto Roena and his Apollo Sound. (Andy Sr. guested with the Fania All Stars at the same event.) Andy Jr., Ismael Jr. and Puchy reunited with Roena and Apollo Sound for Los Hijos De Los Celebres '98 on MP; the CD features covers of songs associated with the trio's famous dads, incl. Andys senior and junior sharing lead vocals on the El Gran Combo classics 'Las Hojas Blancas' and 'De Qué Presumes'. Switched to Jun-Jun Records for Soy Como Soy '98 incl. duet with Andy Jr. on "Siempre Santitos," a tribute to the late Santos Colón (1922-1998); Harold and Liza provided coro vocals. Andy and his orchestra with Andy Jr., Harold and Liza made their UK debut at London's Astoria on 6 June '99. His preferred lineup parallels EGC's instrumentation of two trumpets, two saxes and trombone, rhythm section (conga, bongo, timbales, cowbell, maracas, bass, piano) and chorus. Recorded with Puerto Rico All Stars on their '76 eponymous debut, Los Profesionales '77, Tribute To The Messiah '79 (these three reissued on Combo '92-3) and De Regreso '95 on RMM feat. Liza and Victor Manuelle among the seven lead vocalists; also as part of all-star Puerto Rican lineups on Festival De Soneros '90 on TTH by La Puertorriqueña, prod. by Perignon, and De Aquí Pa'Lla '94 on emigeba. Paired-up with Ismael Miranda for three albums of romantic material: Al Son Del Bolero '96 on Disco Hit, Románticos De Nuevo '97 and Con Amor De Niño '98, both on Two Star. Recommended compilations incl. Los Años De Andy Montañez Con El Gran Combo '93 on Gema, Cantando Voy Por El Mundo Entero '94 on Vedisco (collects Velvet material), two double CD sets Oro Salsero: 20 Exitos '94 and '96 on Rodven (compile LAD, TH, TH-Rodven material).


-This is a revised version of one of over 130 Latin music entries written by John Child (John_Child@descarga.com) for The Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music, 2nd Edition, edit. Donald Clarke; Penguin Books; 1998; 1524 pages; US$22.95, UK£16.99.

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



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