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09/11/99

A discographic profile of the highly acclaimed salsa band that defected from Ray Barretto's lineup in 1972.


Profile: Típica 73 by John Child (John_Child@descarga.com)

TÍPICA 73 Adventurous salsa band formed late '72, its history epitomises the fragmentation of bands that occurred during '70s salsa boom. Five of original lineup split from Ray Barretto band at height of its popularity: Adalberto Santiago, lead singer; Orestes Vilató (b c '45, Camagüey, Cuba) on timbales, doubling on bongo; bongo player Johnny 'Dandy' Rodríguez, now moving to congas (he'd previously done stints with Tito Puente and Tito Rodríguez, and co-led a late '60s band with conguero Angel René, who later became a promoter; Dandy acted as president of the Típica 73 co-operative); trumpeter René López, bassist Dave Pérez, joined by pianist/arranger Sonny Bravo (b 7 Oct. '36, NYC of Cuban parentage; previously with José Fajardo, Tito Puente, Vicentico Valdés, Willie Bobo, Raúl Marrero, Rafael Cortijo, Angel René & Johnny Rodríguez Orchestra and Louie Ramírez/Pete Bonet Orchestra, amongst others; Bravo held the post of Típica's musical director), trombonist Leopoldo Pineda (from Larry Harlow), trumpeter/pianist/arranger Joe Mannozzi (from Orquesta Flamboyán).

They began as a two trumpet/trombone-led conjunto playing típico (typical) Latin music in contemporary style on Típica 73 '73 on Fania sister label Inca, prod. by Johnny Pacheco; joined by Puerto Rican tres player Nelson González (from Ismael Miranda's Orquesta Revelación) for self-prod. Típica 73 '74, La Candela '75 (title track cover of Cuban hit by its composer Juan Formell with his band Los Van Van). Vilató started his pro career at age twelve with Belisario López's charanga, followed by stints with José Fajardo ('62-5), Johnny Pacheco (eight months) and Ray Barretto ('65-72); he also performed with Machito, Tito Puente, Fania All Stars, Mike Martínez's Latin Dimensions and others. Musical differences about 'stretching out' or staying típico split the band: Vilató, Santiago, Mannozzi, González left '76 to form Los Kimbos; Vilató later revealed that he and the other defectors had became dissatisfied with Dandy's financial management and Típica's failure to match the highly paid incomes of other mid-'70s salsa acts. Los Kimbos was a gutsy club band on eponymous LP '76 on Fania sister label Cotique, Mannozzi switching to piano and with trumpeter, mus. dir. Roberto Rodríguez (d '88) from Barretto's band; on second LP they were The Big Kimbos with Adalberto Santiago '77, whereupon Santiago went solo and the band split into Nelson González And His Band (debuting on eponymous LP '77 on TR) and Vilató y Los Kimbos, which released two further albums: Hoy y Mañana '78 and Aquacero Ne Me Moja '79. Disenchanted with Cotique, Vilató relocated to San Francisco '80 to work with Carlos Santana for eight years, thereafter he organised a gigging band called Los Kimbos 90 in '90.

Típica 73 continued with Rumba Caliente '76, joined by young Cuban violinist Alfredo de la Fé (from Eddie Palmieri's band), lead vocalist Tito Allen (from Barretto's band), Don Gonzalo Fernández (flute/tenor sax), José Grajales (timbales/conga) and Lionel Sánchez (trumpet); the LP ushered in a "new sound" utilising their reformed lineup to alternate between and fuse horns-led conjunto and flute/violin-led charanga elements. The Two Sides Of Típica '73 '77 referred to dance and concert sides, with its experimentation and fusion one of salsa's most interesting LPs, with Camilo Azuquita (b Camilo Luis Argumédez, '45, Colón, Panamá; an alumnus of Roberto Roena, Cortijo, Kako and others) replacing Allen, Mexican Dick "Taco" Meza replacing Fernández, plus addition of timbalero Nicky Marrero (b 17 June '50, Bronx, NYC); Azuquita departed to continue his solo career after singing lead on half of Salsa Encendida '78, young Dominican José Alberto sang on the rest. Most of the band appeared on Dandy's Dandy, a Latin Affair '79 on Latin Percussion Ventures Inc. label (maker of Latin percussion instruments; LP's title based on Johnny Rodríguez's nickname). They switched to Fania; Típica 73 en Cuba: Intercambio Cultural '79 was made in Havana, adding Mario Rivera on soprano and baritone sax; Charangueando con la Típica 73 '80 was followed by Into The 80's '81 with guests Mario Bauzá (on alto sax), Rafael Cortijo on congas and Yomo Toro on cuatro. Work dwindled, allegedly because Típica appeared in Cuba, and they disbanded: de la Fé emigrated to Colombia after doing a brief stint with Tito Puente's Latin Ensemble; after recording the notable El Encuentro '82 on Lo Mejor, Dandy joined Puente's Ensemble '82; Rivera and Bravo joined Puente in '82 and '84 respectively; Alberto began a successful solo career '84; Marrero freelanced, then moved to Europe for 10 years (where he taught at the Rotterdam Conservatory and performed on Nueva Manteca's Afrodisia '91 on Timeless and Conexión Latina's Mambo 2000 '93 on Enja); Pineda freelances; Pérez, Sánchez, López, Grajales and Meza retired from salsa's forefront.

Reunion at the Convention Centre, San Juan, P.R. Sept. '95 featured Santiago, Allen, Bravo, Dandy, Marrero, Pineda, González, Sánchez, Angel 'Cachete' Maldonado (percussion), Johnny Torres (bass), Mitch Frohman (reeds), Ite Jerez (trumpet). Series of 25th anniversary reunion gigs during '99 featured Santiago, Allen and Azuquita at NYC dates (Bronx's Lehman College and Manhattan's S.O.B.'s; latter had sonero Nestor Sánchez also joining in); Alberto completed the line-up of original lead vocalists for their concert at P.R.'s Luis Muñoz Marín Amphitheatre on 16 April. Típica's other '99 personnel incl. Bravo, Dandy, Marrero, Pineda, González, George Delgado (conga), Cachete (bata, quinto, bongo), Jerry Madera (bass), Ricardo Pons (flute, tenor sax), Pete Miranda (baritone sax), Héctor 'Bomberito' Zarzuela, Jorge Luis 'Ito' Torres (trumpets). Charanga! '94 on Charly is a recommended UK compilation of Típica's '79 to '80 work.


-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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