Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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OLIVENCIA, Tommy

(b mid-'30s, Villa Palmeras, Santurce, Puerto Rico) Bandleader, trumpeter, musical director, producer. As well as leading one of PR's best bands, he was a distributor for Alegre Records and a promoter, and championed soneros (improvising Latin singers) who have shared his repertoire and gone out on their own, incl. Paquito Guzmán, Sammy González, Chamaco Ramirez, Lalo Rodriguez (see Eddie Palmieri), Gilberto Santa Rosa, Frankie Ruiz, Héctor Tricoche. Began bandleading at age 22, first records on his own Tioly label; he signed with Inca and released 13 albums (incl. two compilations) mid-60s--'78, notable LPs incl. Planté Bandera '75, with Ramirez, Introducing Lalo Rodriguez And Simon Pérez '76, El Negro Chombo '77 and La Primerisima '78, latter two with Guzmán and Pérez, all prod. by the young innovative Luis 'Perico' Ortiz. Ex-Joe Quijano band member Guzmán's solo LPs on Inca incl. the excellent Mintiendo Se Gana Mas '77; he switched to TH (Top Hits, which became TH-Rodven'87, dropped TH '93) for five albums '83--9, incl. the big hit salsa romántica set Las Mejores Baladas En Salsa '86; then moved to Capitol/EMI Latin '90 for another romántica album. Olivencia switched to TH and released Sweat Trumpet Hot 'Salsa' '78 and Tommy Olivencia And His Orchestra '79 (both prod. by Perico), lead singers on latter Guzmán with Santa Rosa, who went on to work with Willie Rosario '81--6, then solo '86 onwards. Ruiz and Carlos Alexis sang lead on Un Triángulo De Triunfo! '81 and Tommy Olivencia '83, Alexis replaced by Héctor Tricoche (a former member of Mikey Cora's Orquesta Cabala and La Terrifica) on Celebrando Otro Aniversario '84, Ruiz's last with Olivencia before launching successful but troubled solo career in '85. Olivencia and band backed veteran Colombian singer Nelson Pinedo on his LP Desde Puerto Rico '84 on Audiorama; Olivencia also prod. and Guzmán singing in the chorus. Meanwhile Paquito (Junior) Acosta replaced Ruiz on Olivencia's Ayer, Hoy, MaĄana Y Siempre! '85; Olivencia commemorated 30 years' bandleading with the chart- topping 30 Aniversario '87, which incl. the big hit 'Lobo Domesticado'. Tricoche departed after Olivencia's TH-Rodven finale El Jeque '88 to pursue a solo career with the same label, releasing Clase Aparte, Motorizame, A Corazon Abierto and Ese Soy Yo and Aqui Estoy Yo '90--95. Olivencia signed with Capitol/EMI Latin in '90 and released Enamorado Y Que! '91 with lead singers Acosta and Pichy Pérez (the latter on a brief sabbatical from Sonora PonceĄa). Completed prison sentence for drugs offence '95 and resumed gigging.