York’s Largest Spanish Weekly Newspaper, July 5, 2016 – Lehman Center for the Performing Arts presents an exclusive one night only concert celebrating ROBERTO ROENA’s historic 45 years of Latin Fusion Apollo Sound that will also feature his original singers Tito Cruz, Sammy Gonzalez, Papo Sánchez and Carlos Santos on Saturday, Augusr 6th, 2016 at8pm. Produced by Lehman Center and Leo Tizol.
Lehman Center for the Performing Arts is on the campus of Lehman College/CUNY at 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West, Bronx, NY 10468. Tickets for ROBERTO ROENA on Saturday, August 6th, 2016 at 8pm are $65, $55, and $50, and can be purchased by calling the Lehman Center box office at 718-960-8833 (Monday through Friday, 10am–5pm, and beginning at 12 noon on the day of the concert), or through online access at www.LehmanCenter.org. Lehman Center is accessible by #4 or D train to Bedford Park Blvd. and is off the Saw Mill River Parkway and the Major Deegan Expressway. Low-cost on-site parking available for $5.
ROBERTO ROENA, master Latin percussionist, was born in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico and showed talent as a mambo and cha-cha dancer at an early age. After his family moved to Santurce when Roberto was nine, he started winning dance contests which lead to a contract for weekly performances on the TV show La Taberna India. Spotted on the show by percussionist Rafael Cortijo, the then 16 year-old Roena was recruited to join Cortijo y Su Combo, where Cortijo taught him to play the bongos and to dance and play the cowbell at the same time. He performed with the orchestra for six years until the combo’s singer,Ismael Rivera left in 1962. In May, 1962 Roena, along with six other band members, formed a new group, La Gran Combo, led by pianist Rafael Itheir, which quickly became a new sensation in Latin Music. During this time he also appeared on Kako’s 1963 classic Latin jam recording Puerto Rican All-Stars featuring Kako and 1967’s Los Mejores Musicos de Puerto Rico, directed and arranged by Ray Santos. While still part of El Gran Combo, Roena formed his own salsa orchestra, Los Megatones, in 1967 with musicians from the two combos he had played with and from the ensemble of Tito Puente, utilizing renown arrangers and composers including Mario Ortiz, Bobby Valentine and Papo Lucca. Camilo Azuquita provided the lead vocals and Andy Montañez andPellín Rodríguez sang chorus. Devoting himself full time to his orchestra in 1969, he renamed it Apollo Sound in honor of the moon rocket launch, and introduced a “new” sound to salsa music that introduced elements of rock, go-go and bossa nova, featuring a line up of two trumpets, trombone and saxophone with a bongo, conga, timbales, bass and piano rhythm section and lead and chorus vocals. A third trumpet was added in the mid-70s. Apollo Sound’s first album produced hits like “Tú Loco Loco”, “El Escapulario” and “El Sordo”. The group has recorded over 20 albums, producing hits like “Traición”, “Que Se Sepa”, “Herencia Rumbero” and the Bobby Capó classic “Soñando con Puerto Rico”. In 1982, Roena participated in El Gran Combo’s reunion recording El Combo Del Ayer and again in 1983 on Aquel Gran Encuentro. In 1970, Roena joined Cameroonian saxophonist Manu Dibango, a massive step for salsa fusion music. He has been a member of the Fania All Stars since the early 1970s, has appeared in three of their films, and continues to record with them, including one of his signature songs “Coro Miyare”. Roberto Roena was honored by the Puerto Rican Senate in San Juan, Puerto Rico on June 17, 2016, for his 60-year career as a salsa musician.
TITO CRUZ was born in Ponce and grew up in Arecibo, Puerto Rico where he played drums as a boy. His career as a singer began when he joined the Roberto Soler Orchestra at age 13. Moving to New Jersey in 1978 to sing with the group Swing Combo, he started performing with Apollo Sound in 1972 and recorded the albums Roberto Roena Y Su Apollo Sound 4 (‘72), Apollo Sound 5 (‘73) and Apollo Sound 6 (‘74). He left the group for a few years, returning in 1977 to sing as co-lead with Papo Sánchez on Apollo Sound 9 and El Progreso (’78), sharing lead vocals with Carlos Santos, on songs like “Lamento de Concepción”. Cruz performed and recorded with Apollo Sound until 1985 and sang on many of their popular songs including “Con los Pobres Estoy”, “Regaño al Corazón” and “Nadie Sabe”.
SAMMY GONZALEZ was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico and started singing at age 14. He has performed with Combo Moderno, Chacón y los Batiritmicos,Tommy Olivencia and Bobby Valentin. He joined Apollo Sound in 1973 and sang on Roberto Roena Y Su Apollo Sound 5, Apollo Sound 6 (‘74), Lucky 7(‘76) and La 8va. Maraville (‘77). Leaving the band in 1978, Gonzalez returned to Apollo Sound in 1985 as part of a trio of singers on Afuera Y Contento which included the swinging “A Ver”.
JOSÉ “PAPO” SÁNCHEZ was born in Hatillo, Puerto Rico and joined Apollo Sound in 1976 as co-lead vocalist on Lucky 7, and sang one of the group’s greatest hits, “Mi Desengaño”. He also sang on La 8va. Maraville (‘77) which included the songs “Para Ser Rumbero” and “Amistad Barata”, and as co-lead singer with Tito Cruz on Roberto Roena Y Su Apollo Sound 9, which was also released in 1977. And Sanchez sang “Marejada Feliz”, another of the group’s big hits. After leaving the band in 1978, he returned as co-lead vocalist on 1987’s Regreso which featured the magnificent “Reflexiones Mías”. Papo Sánchez was the sole lead singer on Apollo Sound’s 1990 release New Decade.
CARLOS SANTOS grew up in Cataño, Puerto Rico and moved to New York City as a young man where he joined the orchestra of Louie Ray in 1968. Discovered by producer Joey Pastrana the following year, he recorded the hits “Chacaboom”, “Deuda” and “Todo el Mundo”. Between 1971 and 1977, he recorded with Kako, Ray Baretto and Eddie Palmieri. Santos joined Apollo Sound in 1978 to record three albums which included hits such as “El Progreso”, “Vamos Háblame Ahora” and “Trago Amargo”.
Lehman Center for the Performing Arts, Inc. is supported, in part, with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council. The 2015-2016 season is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and through corporations, foundations and private donations.