Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music



Adventurous salsa band formed late '72, its history epitomizing the fragmentation of bands that occurred during the salsa boom of the 1970s. Five of the original lineup split from theRay Barretto band at height of its popularity: Adalberto Santiago, lead singer; Orestes Vilato (b c.1945, Camagüey, Cuba) on timbales, doubling on bongo; bongo player Johnny 'Dandy' Rodríguez, now moving to congas (acted as president of Tipica co-operative; previously worked with Tito Puente and Tito Rodriguez and co-led a late '60s band with conguero Angel René, who later became a promoter); trumpeter René Lopez and bassist Dave Pérez, joined by pianist/arranger Sonny Bravo (b 7 October 1936, NYC of Cuban parentage; previously with José Fajardo, Tito Puente, Vicentico Valdés, Willie Bobo, Raúl Marrero, Rafael Cortijo, Angel René and Johnny Rodriguez Orchestra and Louie Ramirez/Pete Bonet Orchestra, among others; Bravo was Tipica's music director), trombonist Leopoldo Pineda (from Larry Harlow), and trumpeter/ pianist/arranger Joe Mannozzi (from Orquesta Flamboyán).

They began as a two trumpet/trombone-led conjunto playing tipico (typical) Latin music in contemporary style on Tipica 73 '73 on Fania sister label Inca, produced by Johnny Pacheco; joined by Puerto Rican tres player Nelson González (from Ismael Miranda's Orquesta Revelacion) for self-produced Tipica 73 '74, La Candela '75 (the title track a cover of a Cuban hit by its composer Juan Formell with his band Los Van Van). Vilato started his pro career at age twelve with Belisario Lopez's charanga, followed by work with José Fajardo ('62-5), Johnny Pacheco (eight months) and Ray Barretto ('65-72); he also performed with Machito, Tito Puente, Fania All Stars, Latin Dimensions (see Roberto Torres) and others. Musical differences about 'stretching out' or staying tipico split the band: Vilato, Santiago, Mannozzi, González left '76 to form Los Kimbos; Vilato later revealed that he and the other defectors had become dissatisfied with Dandy's financial management and Tipica's failure to match the incomes of other mid-'70s salsa acts.

Los Kimbos was a gutsy club band on an eponymous album '76 on yet another Fania label, Cotique, Mannozzi switching to piano and with trumpeter and music director Roberto Rodriguez (d 1988) from Barretto's band; on their second album they were The Big Kimbos With Adalberto Santiago '77, whereupon Santiago went solo and the band split into Nelson González and His Band (eponymous LP debut '77) and Vilató y Los Kimbos, which released two further albums: Hoy y Mañana '78 and Aquacero Ne Me Moja '79. Disenchanted with Cotique, Vilato relocated to San Francisco '80 to work with Carlos Santana for eight years, thereafter he organized a gigging band called Los Kimbos 90 in '90.

Tipica 73 had continued with Rumba Caliente '76, joined by young Cuban violinist Alfredo de la Fé (from Eddie Palmieri's band), lead vocalist Tito Allen (from Barretto's band), Don Gonzalo Fernández (flute/tenor sax), José Grajales (timbales/conga) and Lionel Sánchez (trumpet); the album ushered in a 'new sound' utilizing their reformed lineup to alternate between and fuse horns-led conjunto and flute/violin-led charanga elements. The Two Sides Of Tipica 73 '77 referred to dance and concert sides, with its experimentation and fusion one of salsa's most interesting albums, with Camilo Azuquita (b Camilo Luis Argumédez, '45, Colón, Panama; an alumnus of Roberto Roena, Cortijo, Kako and others) replacing Allen, Mexican Dick 'Taco' Meza replacing Fernández, plus the addition of timbalero Nicky Marrero (b 17 June 1950, Bronx); Azuquita departed to continue his solo career after singing lead on half of Salsa Encendida '78, young Dominican José Alberto sang on the rest. Most of the band appeared on Dandy's Dandy, A Latin Affair '79 on Latin Percussion Ventures Inc. label (maker of Latin percussion instruments). They switched to Fania; Tipica 73 en Cuba: Intercambio Cultural '79 was made in Havana, adding Mario Rivera on soprano and baritone sax; Charangueando con la Tipica 73 '80 was followed by Into The 80's '81 with guests Mario Bauzá  (on alto sax), Rafael Cortijo on congas and Yomo Toro on cuatro. Work dwindled, allegedly because Tipica appeared in Cuba, and they disbanded. See de la Fé's entry; after recording the notable El Encuentro '82 on Lo Mejor, Dandy joined Puente's Ensemble '82; Rivera and Bravo joined Puente in '82 and '84 respectively; Alberto began a successful solo career '84; Marrero freelanced, then moved to Germany; Pineda freelanced; Pérez, Sánchez, Lopez, Grajales and Meza retired from salsa's forefront. Charanga! '94 on Charly was a recommended UK compilation of Tipica's '79-80 work.