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CONJUNTO UNIDAD

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Conjunto Unidad was an obscure New York-based salsa band founded and led by Martín “Bigotes” Arroyo (1965 - 2000), a talented Bronx-born pianist, saxophonist, percussionist, and arranger of Dominican heritage. The band was a “brand new” conjunto consisting of young musicians of mostly Dominican origin in their 20s, with “a truly distinctive sound and their own innovative concept for interpreting the montuno.” Unidad was a seven-piece conjunto, with lead singer and percussionist José “El Sabroso” Ruffin penning all the songs. Joining “El Sabroso” on coro were José “Yose” Portes, bandleader Arroyo, and future megastar salsa singer José Alberto “El Canario” Justiniano (b. 1958), who at the time was a member of Fania recording artists Típica ‘73. The remaining bandmates were Nelson “El Vikingo” Pereyra (1st trumpet), Luis “Aguita” Columna (2nd trumpet), Johnny “Risitas” Fortunato (electric bass), Carlos “El Flaco” Rodríguez (bongos), and Alberto “El Compay” Durán (congas), with musical direction and arrangements by José Rodríguez and Luis Columna.

-Pablo Yglesias

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