April 21, 2024

AZSalsa

Salsa Dancing for Phoenix, AZ

Ismael Rivera: “El Sonero Mayor”

Ismael Rivera: El Sonero Mayor!

Ismael Rivera, "El Sonero Mayor," was a Puerto Rican salsa legend. His powerful voice and improvisational skills became the hallmark of Rafael Cortijo’s Orchestra, revolutionizing the sounds of Afro-Caribbean music. His solo career soared in the 1960s, leaving a lasting legacy. Inducted posthumously into the International Latin Music Hall of Fame in 2007, Rivera remains an enduring icon of salsa music.

A Journey in Revolutionizing Afro-Caribbean Music.

By Mario Pacheco | AZSalsa.net

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Ismael Rivera, known as “Maelo” and “El Sonero Mayor,” was a Puerto Rican singer and composer who revolutionized the sound of Afro-Caribbean music in the 1950s and 60s. He was also a driving force for the new emerging genre called Salsa in the 60s and 70s. Rivera’s incredible voice, along with his powerful and emotional performing, outstanding timing and improvisational skills made him one of the most celebrated and influential salsa artists of his time.

Rivera learn to sing by listening to Cuban Son singers like Alberto Ruiz, Machito and Camilo Rodriguez. In 1948, at the age of 23, he made his debut in the local music scene alongside his best friend Rafael Cortijo, joining Conjunto Monterrey. Rivera played the congas while Cortijo handled the bongos. Although Rivera aspired to be the lead singer, the position was already filled, and he was denied the opportunity.

In 1952, Ismael Rivera joined Orquesta Panamericana as lead singer. The Plena song “El Charlatancatapulted him as the #1 singer in Puerto Rico. 

In 1954, Ismael Rivera teamed up with Rafael as the lead vocalist of his Afro-Caribbean group Cortijo y su Combo. Together, they worked to fulfill their childhood dream of globalizing Puerto Rico’s traditional music genres, Bomba and Plena. This ensemble featured musicians that under the Cortijo-Rivera duo mentorship reached exceptionalism, many of whom years later pursued their independent musical paths with outstanding results. Among them were guitarist Rafael Itier and percussionist Roberto Roena, who went on to establish their own and now legendary salsa bands, El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico and Roberto Roena y su Apolo Sound, respectively.

Cortijo y su Combo emerged not only as key promoters of Puerto Rican traditional Bomba and Plena music, but also as pioneers of the new genre called Salsa. The duo created hundreds of songs, some of which are timeless classics such as El Negro Bembón, Quítate de la Vía Perico, El Chivo de la Campana, and Maquinolandera. They embarked on world tours, consistently selling out venues in multiple American and European countries, which elevated the profile of Puerto Rican music on the global stage.

Unfortunately, in march 21 of 1962, following a journey to Panama with Cortijo y su Combo, Rivera faced arrest for drug possession in Puerto Rico. Reports suggest band members often hid illicit drug shipments, but this time, U.S. Customs inspectors intercepted. Rivera shouldered the blame, shielding others. This incident prompted Cortijo’s Combo dissolution, as Rafael Ithier seized the opportunity to gather the musicians and establish his own band, El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico.

Ismael Rivera was released from jail after 3 years and 8 months. Fortunately for the world of salsa, he teamed up with Cortijo once again to produce  more albums. At the same time, Rivera established his own band Los Cachimbos. He moved to New York City and released several albums with original songs, some of which became greatest salsa hits of all times: El Nazareno, Qué Te Pasa A Ti, Mi Música, El Niche, La Soledad, Me Tienes Loco, Bilongo, Lo Ultimo en la Evenida.

Ismael Rivera was featured in the Fania All Stars shows, touring the world in the golden era of salsa dura music.

In 1982, the passing of his closest friend, Rafael Cortijo, deeply affected Rivera. Subsequently, his vocal abilities gradually declined, and he was unable to sing again. Rivera passed away in 1987 from a heart attack in his mother’s arms. The people of Puerto Rico flooded the streets to honor their idol. The government declared two days of mourning. In 2001, the Puerto Rico Senate declared Rivera’s birthday, October 5th, as ‘Ismael Rivera Day’. He was posthumously inducted into the International Latin Music Hall of Fame in 2000

Even after his passing, Ismael Rivera’s music continues to resonate with audiences worldwide, his legacy as a pioneer of salsa music continues to live on, and his influence can be heard in the work of countless salsa artists today, ensuring his eternal presence in the hearts of fans and musicians alike.

Ismael Rivera "El Sonero Mayor"
Ismael Rivera "El Sonero Mayor"
Ismael Rivera and his best friend Rafael Cortijo

DISCOGRAPHY


Encores De Cortijo Y Su Combo

(TLRP, 1956)
1. Maria Teresa
2. Borinquin
3. Micaela
4. El Mantequero
5. Amarra La Cadena
6. Que Coco
7. Chongolo
8. El Pilon De Tomasa
9. Juan Jose
10. Conoci A Tu Papa


Baile Con Cortijo Y Su Combo

(1958, TLRP)
1. El Negro Bembon
2. Alegria Y Bomba
3. Dejalo Que Suba
4. Te Lo Voy A Contar
5. El Satelite
6. Huy Que Pote
7. El Chivo De La Campana
8. Con La Punta Del Pie Teresa
9. Le Deje Llorando
10. A Bailar Mi Bomba
11. Bailala Bien


Cortijo En New York

(Gema, 1959)
1. La Critica
2. Chambeleque
3. Ton Ton Canelo
4. Bella Mujer
5. Cuembé
6. Mi Caballito
7. La Caleza
8. Cùcala
9. El Negrito Gulembo
10. La Chatarra
11. A Bailar Bambulé
12. La Calabacita


Bueno, Que…?

(Gema, 1960)
1. Perfume De Las Rosas
2. Ramona
3. Chachaguere
4. Manana Es Domingo
5. Yo Soy Del Campo
6. Tuntuneco
7. Que Feo El Pichon !
8. Parece Mentira
9. Si Yo Pudiera Andar
10. Un Telegrama
11. Pa Tumbar La Cana


Quitate De La Via Perico
(Gema, 1961)
1. Perico
2. Bomba Carambomba
3. El Chivo
4. Si Te Contara
5. El Trompo
6. Cortijito
7. Piedras En Mi Camino
8. Caramelo Santo
9. Plena Española
10. Ensillala
11. El Pajaro Chogui
12. El Carnaval


La Serie
(Gema, 1962)
1. Moliendo Café
2. En Mi Viejo San Juan
3. Mentirosa Conmigo
4. Severa
5. Sola Y Triste
6. Yo Te Cantare
7. La Maquina Y La Madama
8. Los Carreteros
9. Llorando Me Dormi
10. El Mar Del Lima
11. Maria Conchita
12. El Pescador


Lo Ultimo y lo Mejor

(Gema, 1963)
1. Oriza
2. Tuntuneco
3. Yayabo
4. Quitate De La Via Perico
5. El Retorno De La Cucaracha
6. Si Te Contara
7. Moliendo Café
8. Perfume De Rosa
9. El Chivo
10. Druma Cuyi
11. Di Donde Estas
12. Severa


Bienvenido!

(Tico Records, 1966)
1. Sinbad El Marino
2. Mi Libertad Eres Tu
3. Fuerz’e Cara
4. El Que No Sufre No Vive
5. Bomba Ae
6. Aqui Estoy, Ya Llegue
7. Los Vaqueros
8. Borinquen
9. Ding Ding Dong Dong
10. Por La Senal
11. Lejos De Ti


Con Todos Los Hierros

(Tico Records, 1967)
1. Arrecotin-Arrecotan
2. Dejala
3. El Negrito De Alabama
4. Caracas Cuatricentenario
5. Calambre
6. Soy Buena Gente
7. Bamba Cure
8. Amor Salvaje
9. La Llaman Solita          
10. Curazao Bon Vini Boogaloo
11. La Soledad
12. Bombon De Canela


De Colores

(Tico Records, 1968)
1. De Colores
2. Los Cazadores
3. King Kong
4. Lo Dice La Luna
5. El Dificil Facil
6. Magoo’s Boogaloo
7. Agitando
8. Este Montuno
9. Super Raton
10. Ismael Y Monchito

 


Controversia

(Tico Records, 1969)
1. Controversia
2. La Arañita
3. Lo Que Dijo La Gitana
4. Ama
5. Jala Jala          
6. Tambores Africanos
7. Compay Güito
8. Gulliver
9. Cordero Y Belmonte
10. Increible


Lo Ultimo En La Avenida

(Tico Records, 1971)
1. Mi Negrita Me Espera
2. Lo Ultimo En La Avenida
3. Cantar Maravilloso
4. El Truquito
5. El Cumbanchero
6. La Cumbita
7. Moti-Agua
8. Entierro A La Moda
9. Siete Pies Bajo La Tierra
10. Lleva Y Trae


Esto Fue Lo Que Trajo El Barco

(Tico Records, 1972)
1. Yumbo Agua Tana Oh!
2. Dime Por Que
3. La Vaca Lechera
4. Maña-Maña
5. La Mañia De Tu Mujer
6. San Miguel Arcangel
7. Incomprendido
8. La Gata Montesa
9. Hasta Mañana
10. Traigo Salsa


Vengo Por La Maceta

(Tico Records, 1973)
1. Mi Jaragual
2. Que Seria De Mi
3. Tumba Lele
4. Birimbau
5. Suave
6. Carimbo
7. El Pañuelito
8. Si Yo Pudiera
9. Sala Gente
10. Sacudeme


Traigo De Todo

(Tico Records, 1974)
1. El Nazareno
2. Que Te Pasa A Ti
3. Witinila
4. Lagrimas Puras
5. Orgullosa
6. Traigo De Todo
7. El Niche
8. Satelite
9. Colobo
10. No Quiero Piedras En Mi Camino


Sigamos Bailando

(Tico Records, 1974)
1. El Negro Bembon
2. Alegria Y Bomba
3. Dejalo Que Suba
4. Te Lo Voy A Contar
5. El Satelite
6. Huy Que Pote
7. El Chivo De La Campana
8. Con La Punta Del Pie Teresa
9. Le Deje Llorando
10. A Bailar Mi Bomba
11. Bailala Bien


Juntos Otra Vez
 
(Coco Records, 1974)
1. Ellos Se Juntan
2. Para Mi Gente
3. Como Son Las Cosas
4. Perico (Quitate De La Via)
5. Maquinolandera
6. Severa
7. El Bombon De Elena
8. Perfume De Rosa
9. El Negro Bembon
10. Oriza


Soy Feliz

(Vaya Records, 1975)
1. Soy Feliz
2. Son Son Sonero
3. Tonto Del Amor
4. Yo No Quiero Que Te Enamores
5. Las Tumbas
6. No Soy Para Ti
7. Parece Que Le Gusta
8. Boriqueneando
9. Si Yo Pudiera
10. Los Apuros De Miguel


La Quiniela Del Dia

(Tico Records, 1976)
Aqui Estoy Ya Llegué
Fuerza ‘E Cara
Coje Pa’ La Cola
Sacame De Aquí
Que Se Pare La Bola
Arrecotín Arrecotán
Calambre
Bombón De Canela
Agua Que Va A Caer
Se Escapó Un Leon


De Todas Maneras Rosas

(Tico Records, 1977)
1. De Todas Maneras Rosas
2. Hola
3. Si Te Cojo
4. Mi Son Sabroson
5. El Mesias
6. Mi Musica
7. Profesion Esperanza
8. La Oportunidad


Esto Si Es Lo Mio

(Tico Records, 1978)
1. Las Caras Lindas          
2. Comedia
3. De Medio Lao
4. A Medias No
5. La Perla           
6. Ella No Merece Un Llanto
7. Angelica


El Alma De Un Pueblo
(Gemma, 1978)
1. Cela Que Te Cela
2. Volare
3. A Bailar Mi Bomba
4. Bahia
5. El Manicero
6. Tequila
7. Virginia
8. Monta Mi Caballo
9. Almendre
10. Cucala Cucala


Maelo – El Sonero Mayor

(Tico Records, 1980)
1. Me Tienes Loco
2. Dueña De Mi Inspiración
3. Suena El Bongo
4. Cachita
5. A Bailar Mi Bomba
6. Dime La Verdad
7. Si No Te Veo Mas
8. A Quilo El Bombon


Sonero #1

(Gemma, 1982)
1. El Negro Bembon
2. Oriza
3. Severa
4. Para Mi Gente
5. Ellos Se Juntan
6. Quitate De La Via Perico         
7. Como Son Las Cosas
8. Maquinolandera
9. El Bombon De Elena
10. Perfume De Rosa


La Herencia Ismael Rivera

(Fania, 2010)
1. Controversia
2. Incomprendido
3. Profesión Esperanza
4. Carimbo
5. Borinquen
6. Colobo
7. La Gata Montesa
8. Siete Pies Bajo La Tierra
9. Mi Jaragual
10. La Soledad
11. Lo Que Dijo La Gitana
12. Dime Por Qué
13. Qué Te Pasaa Ti
14. Orgullosa
15. Las Caras Lindas
16. El Nazareno


Ismael Rivera – Maelo CD1

(Fania, 2011)
1. El Yoyo
2. Besitos De Coco
3. Saoco
4. Lo Deje Llorando
5. El Chivo De La Campana
6. El Mantequero
7. Volare
8. Ahi Na Ma|
9. Aqui Estoy, Ya Llegué
10. Simbad El Marino
11. El Que No Sufre No Vive
12. Fuerza E Cara
13. El Negrito De Alabama
14. Soy Buena Gente
15. El Dificil Facil
16. Agitando
17. Este Montuno
18. Ismael Y Monchito
19. Tambores Africanos
20. Increible
21. La Arañita
22. Lo Ultima En La Avenida
23. El Truquito
24. La Cumbita
25. Moti-Agua


Ismael Rivera – Maelo CD2

(Fania, 2011)
1. Traigo Salsa
2. Dime Porque
3. Sala Gente
4. Tumba Lele
5. Tus Flores Y Tu Pañuelo
6. Traigo De Todo
7. El Niche
8. Witinila
9. Sale El Sol
10. Quiero A Mi Pueblo
11. Seis De Borinquen
12. Son Son Sonero
13. Yo No Quiero Que Te Enamores
14. Borinqueñeando
15. Hola
16. Ella No Merece Un Llanto
17. Comedia
18. Las Caras Lindas
19. Suena El Bongò
20. A Quilo El Bombon

Salsa For Phoenix, AZ
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