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11/18/99

A discographic profile of the popular Puerto Rican improvising salsa singer and composer.


Profile: Tito Allen by John Child (John_Child@descarga.com)

ALLEN, Tito (b Roberto Romero, Santurce, Puerto Rico) Sonero (improvising salsa singer) and composer with an elegant, lucid voice and refined singing style. "Not for nothing is Tito Allen called 'El Elegante de la Salsa'," wrote UK deejay/broadcaster Tomek in '95, "because he has the smoothest, truest, warmest voice of the many salseros singing today."

Allen's career began '62; relocated to NYC '72, there worked in a quartet incl. Colombian pianist Eddie Martínez; back to P.R. for six months performing in hotels; back to NYC to replace Adalberto Santiago as lead vocalist of Ray Barretto's band on their monster hit LP Indestructible '73 on Fania incl. Martínez. Went solo, made albums on Alegre (then part of Fania empire): Maldades '75, Feliz y Dichoso '76, Ahora y Siempre '77, Untouchable '79, Beyond '79, Unique '80, A Los Muchachos '81, most prod. by Louie Ramírez. Guested on Pupi Legarreta's charanga sets Pupi y su Charanga '75 and Los Dos Mosqueteros/ The Two Musketeers '77, latter in collaboration with Johnny Pacheco, both on Vaya.

He replaced Santiago again to provide lead vocals on Típica 73's Rumba Caliente '76 on Inca; feeling undervalued in the band, he soon departed to resume his solo career with Feliz y Dichoso '76; then returned briefly to gig with them just prior to their '82 dissolution. Sang lead vocals on one track each of Los Profesionales '77 and Tribute To The Messiah '79 by the Puerto Rico All Stars, both reissued on Combo '92-3; provided lead vocals on one track of Tito Puente's Homenaje A Beny, Vol. 2 '79 on Tico; contributed lead vocals to four cuts on Ramírez' Salsa Progresiva '79 on Cotique (reissued as Como Nunca '92 on Fania), El Genio '89 on L & T Records (one track) and Louie Ramírez Y Sus Amigos '90 on Cache (two tracks). Made Cantar '81 with Conjunto Clásico on their Lo Mejor label; was one of the lead vocalists (others incl. Ray de la Paz, José Alberto, Meñique and Johnny Rivera) on the three popular Noche Caliente (Noche Caliente 2) volumes '82-4 on K-Tel, the first (prod. by Ramírez) regarded as genesis of salsa romántica trend. Sang lead vocals on half of Aparecio el Rey! '86 on Echu by veteran composer/ percussionist Justi Barreto (b '23, Cuba).

He made his solo comeback with two commendable albums: El Intocable '88 on Faisán, with prod., mus. dir., arrs., piano by Isidro Infante, and Llegare '89 on TTH in collaboration with bandleader/bongosero Ralphy Santi, with mus. dir. and arrs. by Infante. Sessioned on two Latin jazz albums released '92: Decision on Messidor, Seis del Solar's first outing following Rubén Blades departure, and Tito Puente's Mambo Of The Times on Picante, providing co-lead vocals to the Joe Cuba classic title track. Relocated to P.R.; signed with Tony Moreno's Musical Productions (MP), debuted on MP All Stars '92; solo debut on the label was Clase y Sabor '93 on NRT (a division of MP). Contributed lead vocals to two tracks on Roberto Clemente: Un Tributo Musical '98 on RykoLatino. Has sessioned extensively as a coro (chorus) singer in NYC and P.R.. Participated in Típica 73 reunions '95 and '99. Made London debut Nov. '95 backed by UK salsa band La Clave led by Berklee-trained timbalero Jim LeMessurier; is scheduled to reunite with them at London's Jazz Café in Dec. '99.


-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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