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Torres at a ceremony in Union City, New Jersey, where was honored with a star at Celia Cruz Plaza.
10 February 1940 |
Roberto Torres Born 10 February 1940; is a Cuban musician from Güines most famous for his interpretation of Simón Díaz's Caballo Viejo. He is considered to be one of the highest authorities in the history of the Cuban music. His singing career with Sonora Matancera puts him at the peaks and among the top singers of Cuba of all times. He has made a valuable contribution, along with Arturo Sandoval, Rosendo Rosell, Celia Cruz, and musicologist Eloy Crespo to the documentary Son, la antesala de la salsa. He is considered one of Cuba's highest assets in music. he also started the careers of many artists singers such as Billy "la voz" Quinones who is also a musician trumpeter/percussionist who at the age of 16 yrs old was Roberto Torres's lead trumpeter and music director by the age of 18. Billy la voz Quinones now sings on his solo CD project as he dedictes to Roberto his version of Caballo Viejo in a new Latin Kompa style in which Billy la voz calls Kompalsa a mix of Haitian French caribbean sounds with charanga vallenato rhythms.
Cuban-born singer, bandleader, percussionist, composer, producer and label boss Roberto Torres started singing in his mid-teens. He worked in Havana with Conjunto Universal and Orquesta Swing Casino before leaving Cuba in June 1959 for New York City. There he organised the cooperative charanga Orquesta Broadway in 1962 with Cuban flautist Eddy Zervigón, making a string of popular LPs with them on the Gema, Musicor and Tico labels between 1964 and 1968. After leaving Broadway he worked with José Fajardo and Sonora Matancera. In 1972 he sang lead vocals with Mike Martínez's Latin Dimensions on their eponymous LP on Mericana. Torres made his solo debut on same label with El Castigador (1973), including the hit "El Caminante" ("The Stroller", which became his nickname), followed by Roberto Torres y Chocolate Juntos '74 on Mericana (a collaboration with Cuban trumpeter Alfredo "Chocolate" Armenteros), De Nuevo, Roberto Torres y sus Caminantes and El Duro del Guaguancó '76-8 on the Mericana subsidiary Salsoul.
In 1979 he launched the New York-based SAR label (co-founded by Sergio Bofill, boss of premier 10th Avenue Latin record distributor GB Records, Adriano García and Roberto) with his own El Rey del Montuno. Over the next three years he produced over 50 LPs on SAR and allied Guajiro, Toboga and Neon labels for Papaíto, Monguito "El Unico", Linda Leida, Chocolate, Henry Fiol, La India de Oriente, Charanga De La 4, Alfredo Valdés Jr and his father, Alfredo Valdés, Fernando Lavoy and many others. Torres and SAR headed an early '80s revival of típico (typical, traditional) Cuban music which was not simply imitation of the orthodox; with African and French Caribbean market in mind he went for a "rootsy" sound, extended tracks: millions of albums were sold. Using many of the same New York-based musicians on various sessions, he formed the SAR All Stars, including Chocolate, Leopoldo Pineda on trombone, the Zervigón brothers from Orquesta Broadway, Valdés Jr. and many others.
Torres' SAR albums included Recuerda A Portabales (songs associated with Cuban singer / composer Guillermo Portabales), Presenta: Ritmo de Estrellas (an all-star charanga), Recuerda Al Trio Matamoros (songs from repertoire of the Cuban trio), Charanga Colonial (another all-star lineup), all '79-81; also three LPs by his Charanga Vallenata created style of sound 1980-1982, fusing Cuban charanga and conjunto elements with Colombian vallenata accordion played by Jesús Hernández, Roberto Torres Y Su Charanga Vallenata Vol. 2 yielded the massive hit "Caballo Viejo" '81; Corazón De Pueblo '84; Elegantemente Criollo '86, made in Miami and distributed locally directly by Torres' label Guajiro Records Incorporated (where he had relocated, taking SAR with him) with Israel "Cachao" López. The SAR group's output fell off after '82; many stars switched to Caimán Records, formed in 1983 by Bofill and Humberto Corredor; others moved to Laslos Records, formed in 1984; Monguito "El Unico", Valdés Jr. and others also recorded for the Ivory Coast's Sacodis label from 1980 to the mid-'80s, which mirrored the SAR sound.
In 1991, Torres' company Guajiro Records Inc. and SAR Records Inc. updated their filed for trademark licenses to include distributor rights permission to release audio cassette tapes, compact discs, disc records, as well as phonograph records to start his project into the new decade. Torres continued to issue and reissue his various solo albums on SAR out of Miami from 1992 up to 2000 via the Miami local distributor and media manufacturer Americ Disc USA-Florida Inc. The various reissues of his classic Charranga Vallenata created sound maintained his comfortable lifestyle starting with the CD album releases and reissues in 1992 of "Roberto Torres Presenta La Charranga Vallenata", "Roberto Torres Y Su Charranga Vallenata, Vol. 2", "Roberto Torres Y Su Charanga Vallenata, Vol. 3", "Tropicalismo", "Con Mucho Swing", "Recuerda A Portabales", "Con El Sabor De... Roberto Torres", "Elegantemente Criollo", "Recuerda Al Trio Matamoros", "El Rey Del Montuno", "Rinde Homenja A Benny More" and "Roberto Torres Y Sigo Criollo". Followed by CD album releases and reissues in 1993 of "Roberto Torres Con Charranga De La 4" and in 1994 of "Recuerda A La Sonora" and "Al Fin! Lo Mejor De Roberto Torres". Opening 1995 with CD album releases and reissues of "Bailable Como Nunca! and closing the year with "Castigador". The following year in 1996 proved to be one of Torres' most extensive successfully occupied with touring appearances; accompanied by CD album releases and reissues of "La Fiesta", "Vallenatos A Mi Estilo, Vol. 1" and "Vallenatos A Mi Estlo, Vol. 2". This fierce template carried Torres' career through 1997 and the combined project release of "Juntos" with well known Latin artist "Chocolate". Released as "Juntos Con Roberto Torres Y Chocolate". In 1998, the release of "Roberto Torres Y El Trio Boriquen - Viva El Bolero" led to his direction and production credits projects for the label. Additionally in the Nineties; Torres recorded with the Tropicana All Stars on Recaredo Gutiérrez's Regu Records and reissued "Con Mucho Swing - Roberto Torres & Cha Cha Cha All Stars Orchestra" on the same imprint in 2004. The start of the new millennium in 2000 halted the exclusive release of "Siempre Sonando"; a project which strongly featured the Latin artist Edwin Bonilla.
- McConnachie, James; (Firm), Rough Guides (2000). World music: the rough guide. Rough Guides. pp. 625–. ISBN 978-1-85828-636-5. Retrieved 6 May 2011.
- Cantor, Judy (26 August 1999). "Miami Maestro". Miami New Times.
- Sanabria, Santo. "Latinos honored in Union City", The Union City Reporter, 12 June 2011, pages 1 and 12
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