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Artist Profile of La Sonora Ponceña

A Salsa Institution

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Photo Courtesy Musica Latina Fania

La Sonora Poncena - '30th Anniversary Vol. 1'

Photo Courtesy Musica Latina Fania

La Sonora Ponceña has left a permanent imprint in Salsa music. With nearly 60 years of musical history, this Puerto Rican band has become a point of reference for Salsa fans all over the world. La Sonora Ponceña's unique music flavor and enormous compilation of hits have made of this band an institution in Salsa music.

The Birth:

In 1944, in the city of Ponce, Puerto Rico, musician Enrique "Quique" Lucca formed a quintet group named Orquesta Internacional. Ten years after that first experiment, Lucca added new members to the original group changing the musical style of it. This transformation came with a new name: La Sonora Ponceña.

Papo Lucca:

By the 1960s, the band was already popular in Puerto Rico thanks in part to Papo Lucca, Enrique's son and youngest member of the band, who captured audiences with his piano playing skills. With his enormous musical talent, Papo Lucca wrote the arrangements for Hachero Pa Un Palo, the first album recorded by La Sonora Ponceña back in 1962.

Hachero Pa Un Palo and the following album, Fuego en el 23, opened the doors for the band to New York's vibrant Salsa scene. During the 1960s and the first half of the 1970s, La Ponceña produced several hits that included "Prende el Fogón," "Changuiri" and "Juana Bayona."

Building the Myth:

The 1975's release of Tiene Pimienta represented an important step in the band's musical evolution. That album marked the beginning of Papo Lucca's experimentation with electronic keyboards and Latin Jazz influences.

In 1979, La Sonora Ponceña produced La Ceiba, a new album featuring Celia Cruz that exposed the band to a more international audience. Louie Ramirez, La Ponceña's producer at that time, played a major role in this exposure that was further consolidated in the following album New Heights.

By the 1980s, La Sonora Ponceña was already one of the most prestigious Salsa bands in the world. During that decade, the band consolidated its sound through several albums such as Determination, Jubilee and Back to Work.

Since the 1990s, La Sonora Ponceña's musical production has continued at a slower pace. That, however, has not hurt the myth that has been built around this Salsa band. Today, La Sonora Ponceña still brings its music all over the world.

The Secret to La Sonora Ponceña's Unique Sound:

La Sonora Ponceña has built a special sound based on very innovate elements. The following are the reasons behind the band's unique Salsa flavor:
  • Trumpets: A combination of four trumpets, constantly playing short notes to build up the melody, gives an incredible force to the musical sound of this band.
  • Singers: The assembly of several and diverse singers on stage, has allowed the band to incorporate rich and complex voice arrangements into its songs.
  • Percussion: The band has given special attention to its percussion. Very often, indeed, La Sonora Ponceña brings back that traditional African beat that has influenced Salsa music from the beginning. The solo improvisation in the middle of "Yambeque" and the intro part in "Ahora Si" are good examples of the way La Sonora Ponceña has used percussion on its music.
  • Papo Lucca: The band's pianist and director whose musical influences go beyond the Salsa realm, has given La Sonora Ponceña that sophisticated flavor that touches the boundaries of Latin Jazz.

Top 10 Sonora Ponceña Songs:

Picking the top 10 songs for a band that has been producing amazing music for nearly 60 years is not an easy task. However, the following list provides a solid sample of the band's repertoire:
  1. "El Pio Pio"
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  2. "Boranda"
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  3. "Yambeque"
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  4. "Fuego en el 23"
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  5. "Como Te Quise Yo"
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  6. "Remembranzas"
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  7. "Canto al Amor"
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  8. "Ahora Si"
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  9. "Canción"
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  10. "Sola Vaya"
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Essential Sonora Ponceña Albums:

Considering the band's long musical career, hit compilation albums represent the best option to start a journey through La Sonora Ponceña's music. The following three albums include some of the best songs the band has ever produced:
  • 30th Anniversary Vol. 1 (1985)
  • 30th Anniversary Vol. 2 (1985)
  • Live 45 Años (2000)
In addition to these compilations, the following albums helped the band to establish its unique sound especially during the 1980s:
  • La Ceiba (1979)
  • New Heights (1980)
  • Determination (1982)
  • Jubilee (1986)
  • Back to Work (1987)
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