Soulful Panamanian-born sonero, now residing in Cali, Colombia.
Profile by John Child (John_Child@descarga.com)
Gabino Lazo Espinosa, 19 July '49, Concepción, Panamá; father Nicaraguan, mother
Panamanian) Sonero (improvising salsa singer), coming forward just as the art seemed
to be dying, and described by UK broadcaster Tomek as a "gravelly, soulful, intimate,
tasty, sassy panameño. His albums show he has learnt well from the consummate vision
of Hernán Gutiérrez." Pampini's interest in singing began at the age of seven, performing waltzes and rancheras at school; also played guitar. Worked with groups Mozambique,
Cofradía and Roberto y su Zafra. Made recording debut '66 with El Combo Impacto, with
whom he had the hit "La Luna Y El Toro". Songs he recorded with Roberto y su Zafra
and El Combo Impacto were later collected on Otra Vez...Gabino Pampini
'88 on Victoria.
He relocated to Costa Rica, where he joined the group Caribú, and travelled to the
US with them. There the Colombian timbalero Alex Léon (a member of Orquesta Inmensidad
before launching his bandleading career with the notable Aquí De Nuevo
'84 on Race Records; a "best of" of Léon's material is available on 15 Años de Oro
'00 on Max) recommended Pampini to the extraordinary Colombian pianist, arr., composer
and flautist Hernán Gutiérrez, who played and arr. for Fruko y sus Tesos in the '70s, appearing on that band's El Violento
'73 and El Caminante
'74, both on Colombia's Fuentes label.
Pampini took up residence in Miami, where he sang lead vocals on half of Gutiérrez's
Y Ahora...La Tremenda Salsa De Hernán Gutiérrez y su Orquesta
'80 on Common Cause Records (reissued in Colombia as La Hermandad Latina
'86 on Codiscos under Pampini's name) and shared lead vocals with Cuban Israel "Kantor"
Sardiñas (ex-Los Van Van) and Colombian Oscar Alberto Abueta on Gutiérrez's classic
'84 on Martínez Records, definitely one of the most outstanding salsa albums of the
Gutiérrez died soon after his masterpiece, but Pampini perpetuated his original sound
as a solo artist backed by his group Fuerza Noble, co-led by bassist, arr. and composer
Ricardo Lance (from Barranquilla, Colombia), and made three albums with them on Mercy Records in Miami '87-88, all titled Fuerza Noble.
The Fuerza Noble
album trilogy spawned a series of notable hits in Colombia: "A Nuestro Modo" from
volume one, "Cuerpo de Guitarra" and the bolero "Ilusión" from volume two, and "Gotitas
de Dolor" and "Me Cai de la Nube" from the third album. Fuerza Noble's line-up comprised of two-three trombones, two trumpets, rhythm section (conga, bongo, timbales, bass
and piano) and voices, incl. ex-Sonora Ponceña lead singer Yolanda Rivera in the
In '90 his patronage by Colombia's salsa audience was consolidated there and in Colombian
enclaves abroad with the monster hit "Mi Vecina," a track he recorded in Colombia
as a guest on Frivolo
'89 on Codiscos by Grupo Galé (led by percussionist, arr., composer, singer and prod.
Diego Galé). Also in '90 Pampini made Las Aventuras Musicales de...Gabino Pampini
on TH-Rodven (now Rodven/ PolyGram Latino) in Miami. His Con Mas Fuerza
'92 was recorded in Bogotá on Colombian BMG/ RCA. He made Colombia his home, taking
up residence in Cali.
The essential 2-disc set 20 Exitos de Gabino Pampini
'00 on DM Productions compiles his hits with El Combo Impacto and Grupo Galé, together
with tracks from both Hernán Gutiérrez albums, his trio of Fuerza Noble releases
(incl. most of the aforementioned hits) and Las Aventuras Musicales
Gabino resurfaced '97 as a house singer with Fuentes, contributing lead vocals to
La Sabrosura's Tango, Salsa y Arrabal
'97 (well executed salsa interpretations of tangos), one track on Renaciendo
'97 (aka De Nuevo
) by The Latin Brothers and several cuts on La Sonora Carruseles' Heavy Salsa
'98 (aka Al Son de los Cueros!!!
). He resumed his solo recording career on Fuentes '98 with Gabino Pampini En Blanco
, an homage to Venezuelan sextet Los Blanco, followed by A Lo Billo's
'99, in tribute to Venezuela's legendary Billo's Caracas Boys, both co-prod. by Diego
Galé. These two porro/ paseaíto/ cumbia oriented projects wasted Gabino's forte for
straight-ahead salsa. However Fuentes made amends with the excellent and highly recommended El Sonero: Mis Problemas
'00, allowing him to co-prod., co-arr. and contribute eight of his own compositions
to the project. The remaining six tracks were masterly covers of Ismael Rivera classics,
to which Pampini's voice is particularly suited.
He continued providing lead vocals to Fuentes productions, incl. Tributo a Tite Curet: Salsa de Barrio
'99 (interpreting the Ismael Rivera hits "Las Caras Lindas" and "De Todas Maneras
Rosas"), The Latin Brothers' Lo Más Sabroso...La Salsa
'99 (three cuts), La Sonora Carruseles' Con Todos Los Hierros: Salsa Brava
'00 (two tracks) and Power Salsa
'00 by Fruko Y Sus Tesos (three cuts).
Fuentes compiled the Pampini song tracks from the '97 La Sabrosura and Latin Brothers
albums together with remakes of his earlier Colombian hits with Fuerza Noble and
Grupo Galé on the recommended Vuelva La Salsa
'98. The collection Greatest Hits/ Grandes Exitos
'00 on Fuentes recycles five tracks from Vuelva La Salsa
plus two tracks from La Sonora Carruseles' Heavy Salsa
, four from En Blanco
and one from La Nueva Sonora Matancera's La Nueva Sonora Matancera Con La Chola Zenide
'99 on Fuentes/ Paramusica.
In addition to receiving honours in Perú, Panamá and Colombia, he won Best Salsa Vocalist
'89 in Tenerife, Spain. He has also participated in the Festival of Orchestras at
Barranquilla Carnival on a number of occasions.
-This is a significantly 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.