Roberto Roena, Salsa Percussionist and Bandleader, Dies at 81

After catching the act, the Puerto Rican musician and bandleader Rafael Cortijo invited Mr. Roena, who was solely 15 or 16, to hitch his orchestra, Cortijo y Su Combo, as a dancer and refrain member. Mr. Cortijo, a percussionist, started education him on the bongos, and quickly Roberto was a part of the band.

When Mr. Cortijo’s group dissolved, Mr. Roena turned a part of the salsa orchestra El Gran Combo, recording and touring internationally. It was in 1969 that he shaped Apollo Sound — named, some variations of the story go, as a result of its first rehearsal coincided with the launch of Apollo 11, the primary mission to land astronauts on the moon. The group virtually had a special identify.

“First I wished to place Apollo 12, as a result of we have been 12 musicians,” he instructed La Opinión in 1996, “however then I assumed, if the US launches Apollo 13, we’re out of date.”

With Apollo Sound, Mr. Roena took salsa to a brand new degree of sophistication, working in two and even three trumpets and a posh rhythm part to create a propulsive sound that drew on the music of jazz-rock teams like Chicago and Blood, Sweat & Tears. Its stay exhibits have been wild, with Mr. Roena setting the tone, and its albums for Fania have been regular sellers.

In an interview with The Occasions in 2014, when he was a part of the lineup for a Fania Data tribute live performance in Central Park, Mr. Roena credited the label’s founders, Johnny Pacheco and Jerry Masucci, with creating the salsa phenomenon.

“Jerry and Johnny gave you the liberty to do your individual factor,” he stated. “They allowed the musicians to precise themselves the way in which we wished, and that led to quite a lot of hit data.”

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