La Sonora Poncena 55th Anniversary Concert

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Legendary salsa band La Sonora Poncena, with special guests cuatro master Yomo Toro, salseros Tito Allen and Rafy Santana, and trumpeter Hector “Bomberito” Zarzuela, celebrates its 55th Anniversary with a special concert at Lehman Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, July 11, 2009, at 8pm. With over 40 albums, salsa pioneers La Sonora Ponceña, led by founder Enrique “Quique” Lucca and his son, piano virtuoso “Papo” Lucca, has released such classic hits as “Hachero pa’ un palo” and “Fuego en el 23.”

Lehman Center for the Performing Arts is on the campus of Lehman College at 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West, Bronx, NY 10468. Tickets for LA SONORA PONCEÑA 55th ANNIVERSARY CONCERT on Saturday, July 11, 2009 at 8pm, are: $50, $45, $40 and $35 and can be purchased by calling the Lehman Center box office at 718.960.8833 (Mon. through Fri., 10am–5pm, Tues. 10am-7pm, and beginning at 12 noon on the day of the concert), or through 24-hour 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. Over 1,000 free, on-site parking spaces are available.

La Sonora Ponceña was formed in Puerto Rico in 1954 by Enrique “Quique” Lucca, who named the band for the famous Cuban band Sonora Matancera and his home city of Ponce, thus Sonora Ponceña. By 1956 the group included pianist Vicentico Morales, with Quique’s ten-year-old son, Enrique “Papo” Lucca Jr., already at the piano writing arrangements. Papo recorded his first piano solo at age twelve. The band’s early recordings featured various popular vocalists of the time, until Tito Gomez joined the band, staying until 1974. By 1960, the band had performed in New York, catching the attention of Fania/Inca Records owner Jerry Masucci. After studies at the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music, Papo was an accomplished pianist and arranger, and in 1968 Quique stepped down as musical director. Under Papo’s direction, the band’s sound became a fusion of traditional Cuban and modern Latin styles. In 1969 they released their first Inca LP, with all arrangements by Papo, Hachero pa’ un palo, whose hit title song established them as salsa pioneers. They recorded 30 more albums for Inca and by 1980 were a huge success. As salsa romántica became popular, they adjusted to commercial forces without deserting their trademark sound. The band’s most recent CDs are 2008’s Otra navidad criolla and 2009’s Greatest Hits.

Yomo Toro, born in Ensenada, Puerto Rico, has been one of New York City’s most respected Latin musicians for over five decades. Playing the cuatro, a Puerto Rican 10-stringed instrument descended from the Spanish vilhuela, he arrived in New York in 1953 with his band, Los 4 Aces, playing several tours of the Caribbean before settling in the Bronx in 1956. He played with Trio Los Panchos in the early ‘60s, recording four albums, one featuring Eydie Gormé. He soon joined the Fania label and the world-famous Fania All-Stars. In 1969 Toro recorded the influential salsa album Tribute to Arsenio with the Larry Harlow Orchestra. In 1970, with Willie Colón and Héctor Lavoe, he combined the new sounds of New York salsa with traditional Puerto Rican Christmas music in the classic Asalto Navideño, one of Fania’s best-selling albums of all time. Yomo Toro has played on over 150 albums, including over 20 solo albums and CDs with Paul Simon, Linda Ronstadt, and David Byrne. Since 1994, he has performed in the Latin Legends band with Larry Harlow and Adalberto Santiago.

Tito Allen, “the elegant one,” has been one of the most popular soneros for over thirty years, performing with the Ray Barretto Orchestra, Típica 73, and the Tito Puente Orchestra. As a solo artist, he is known for such hits as “Maldades,” “Feliz y dichoso,” “Ahora y siempre” and “Untouchable.”

Rafy Santana, who is a featured vocalist on La Sonora Ponceña’s Aniversario 45 CD, leads his own band, Rafy Santana y su Orquesta Homenaje, which released 2005’s critically acclaimed Canto a Lavoe, a tribute to salsero Héctor Lavoe.

Hector “Bomberito” Zarzuela has played trumpet with Conjunto Clásico and the Fania All-Stars and has appeared on over 100 albums with such legends as Tito Puente, Héctor Lavoe, Johnny Pacheco, Celia Cruz, Ray Barretto and Tommy Olivencia.

This concert receives support from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the New York Daily News, and the New York State Council on the Arts.

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