|Labels||Productores Profesionales de la Música (PPM)|
|Associated acts||Orquesta Guayacán|
|Past members||Jairo Varela|
Alvaro del Castillo
Grupo Niche is a salsa group founded in 1978 in Cali, Colombia. Currently based in Cali, Colombia, it enjoys great popularity throughout Latin America. It was founded by Jairo Varela and Alexis Lozano. Varela remained with the group throughout his life, serving as producer, director, songwriter, vocalist and guiro player. Alexis Lozano, trombone player and arranger later left to form Orquesta Guayacán. The group also included Nicolas Cristancho, on the piano; Francisco Garcia, on the bass; Luis Pacheco, on the congas; and vocalists Jorge Bazán and Hector Viveros.
Grupo Niche's first album: "Al Pasito", released in 1979, did little to challenge the dominating salsa band of Colombia at the time, Fruko y sus Tesos. Two years later, however, the group found success with their second album, "Querer es Poder", particularly with the single "Buenaventura y Caney".
The group relocated in 1982 to Cali where they have been based since. After recording two more albums, Grupo Niche released "No Hay Quinto Malo" in 1984, which featured their signature song, "Cali Pachanguero". The tribute hit single to the "world salsa capital" catapulted Niche as one of the top salsa bands of Colombia.
In 1986, the band incorporated Puerto Rican vocalist Tito Gomez, who had previously worked with the famous Puerto Rican salsa group, la Sonora Ponceña, and Ray Barretto, the Godfather of Latin Jazz. Later that year, Grupo Niche released "Me Huele a Matrimonio". Afterward, yet another Puerto Rican joined, the pianist Israel Tanenbaum, who would eventually leave the group to join a Niche spin-off band: Orquesta Guayacán.
Grupo Niche is known for both its vigorous, uptempo dance music as well as slower-paced romantic numbers. Among its best known hits are "Cali Aji", "Del Puente Pa'llá", "Sin Sentimientos", "Una Aventura", "Etnia", "Gotas de Lluvia", "Han Cogido la Cosa", "Mi Pueblo Natal", "Hagamos Lo Que Diga Corazón", "Duele Mas", "Nuestro Sueño", and the famous cumbia "Canoa Rancha". Their most well-known song is "Cali Pachanguero". In 2002 they recorded the album Control Absoluto in Miami Florida with the engineers Alex Arias and Jossel Calveiro.
Some other singers from Niche throughout its history include Alvaro del Castillo, La Coco Lozano, Tuto Jiménez, Saulo Sanchez, Tito Gomez, Moncho Santana, Charlie Cardona as well as Willy Garcia and Javier Vasquez, now members of the group 'Son de Cali'. Most recently joined are the Puerto Ricans Oswaldo Roman and Julio Lopez and actual singer Elvis Magno from Buenaventura. They have been very successful, and some of their songs are considered Classics of Salsa Music. The group still enjoys some of its past successes, and keeps on tour, making worldwide presentations, and singing their most memorable songs.
Musician Tito Gomez, who fronted the group for seven and half years (1985–1992), died on June 12, 2007 in Cali, the city where Grupo Niche was established.
Bandleader and co-founder Jairo de Fátima Varela Martínez was born on 9 December 1949 in Quibdó, Colombia, the son of merchant Pedro Antonio Varela Restrepo and writer and poet, Teresa de Jesús Martínez Arce.
His first contact with music occurred when he was eight years old, in the barrio of Roma de Quibdo where he formed the group "La Timba", essentially composed of musicians playing only the flute, bongos, maracas and güiro.
At the age of 62, Varela was found dead in his Cali home on August 8, 2012, apparently from heart failure. Jairo's daughter, Yanila Varela has been the Grupo Niche's owner since her father's death in 2012.
Grupo Niche in Canada
Grupo Niche played in Montreal on July 21, 2001 for a party to celebrate the independence of Colombia (July 20). Grupo Niche was also accompanied that night with another band called Balmore Estrada y su Nueva Sensacion, who was formed in the late 1980s by Balmore Estrada.
Grupo Niche also played again in Montreal, on July 15, 2006, in the festival colombiano, October 2008 and on May 8, 2010 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the band. According with the Latin site Hola Calgary on October 11, 2008, Grupo Niche played at the Jack Singer Concert Hall EPCOR Centre for the Performing Arts in Calgary, Alberta.
- Al Pasito (1979)
- Querer es Poder (1981)
- Prepárate... (1982)
- Directo Desde New York! (1983)
- No Hay Quinto Malo (1984)
- Triunfo (1985)
- Me Huele a Matrimonio (1986)
- Con Cuerdas (1987)
- Tapando el Hueco (1988)
- Sutil y Contundente (1989)
- Cielo de Tambores (1990)
- Llegando al 100% (1991)
- Un Alto en el Camino (1993)
- Huellas del Pasado (1995)
- Etnia (1996)
- A Prueba de Fuego (1997)
- Señales de Humo (1998)
- Lo Mejor (1998)
- A Golpe de Folklore (1999)
- Propuesta (2000)
- La Danza de la Chancaca (2001)
- Control Absoluto (2002)
- Imaginación (2004)
- Alive (2005)
- Tocando El Cielo con Las Manos (2013)
- "Charlie Zaa", Contemporary Musicians (2005). Gale. Retrieved from Galenet Biography Resource Center on Oct. 10, 2008.
- Libreros, Lucy Lorena (21 August 2012). "¿Quién fue la intelectual Teresa Martínez, mamá del maestro Jairo Varela?" [Who was the intellectual Teresa Marínez, mother of the teacher Jairo Varela?] (in Spanish). Cali, Colombia: El País. Archived from the original on 9 March 2018. Retrieved 9 March 2018.
- JairoEPD.swf. Gruponiche.com. Retrieved on 2012-08-10.
- Cobo, Leila (August 8, 2012). "Jairo Varela, Founder of Colombia's Grupo Niche, Dead at 62". Billboard.biz.
- Concierto del Grupo Niche en Toronto. Torontohispano.com. Retrieved on 2012-08-10.
- Grupo NICHE en Calgary Archived 2012-04-02 at the Wayback Machine. Hola Calgary. Retrieved on 2014-08-10.
- Waxer, Lise. "En Conga, Bonga y Campana:" The Rise of Colombian Salsa. Latin American Music Review, Vol. 21, No. 2. (Autumn - Winter, 2000), pp 118–168 (2002)
- Official website
- Conversaciones con Jairo Varela "El Mito Niche by Umberto Valverde - June 2007
- In Memorian Jairo Varela by Walter Germán Magaña S. - August 2012