Dominican, Puerto Rican musicians’ albums reviewed

Saludos amigos, and welcome to our music as we continue our review of the many musical productions that have come out in the year 2010.

Hector Acosta — "El Torito," "Obligame"

Born on the city of Bonao in the Dominican Republic, Hector Acosta began his singing career as a choir boy in the local church. His first true challenge as a singer was participating in a festival organized by the local radio station Radio Novel and, without his parents knowing, he performed and won first place. From here on the road to a singing career began for this choir boy from Bonao. His first group was La Renovacion Quisqueyana" a local merengue group that performed at the local casinos and bars. He enlisted with the group for two years. Later he moved to Los Gentiles, another local group, and it is with this group that he learns the tools of the trade and hones his skills as a vocalist and bassist. He lasted two years with Los Gentiles before meeting Gerardo Garcia, manager of Los Hermanos Rosario, a merengue musical institution. After an impromptu audition, Garcia decided to create a group around Acosta called Los Toros Band. For 16 years, Acosta was the group’s main vocalist, and the band traveled the world with its unique merengue and bachata style. In 2006, Acosta decided to go on his own, and his first production, "Sigo Siendo Yo," became a hit not only in the Dominican Republic, but also gained a wide acceptance in all of the Caribbean and the United States. "Obligame" is his fourth production, and here we get to listen to the wide range of styles Acosta can handle. Not only is he a great merenguero, but his forte is the bachata — bachata with the old-school essence and contemporary arrangements. One example is the current hit "Me Duele La Cabeza," a song of a love lost, Acosta’s specialty. Merengue like "Catigame," "Rumba Buena" and "Me Falla Todo" are guaranteed hits along with the rest of the bachatas included in this 11-track production. With "Obligame" Acosta creates the perfect blend of songs for fans of Dominican music. Highly recommended!

El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico — "Sin Salsa No Hay Paraiso"

Puerto Rico’s musical flag, El Gran Combo, under the leadership of Rafael Ithier, has been representing the musical flavor of borinquen since 1962. After the rupture of Cortijo y Su Combo, many of its members came together as a cooperative and created El Gran Combo. After traveling the world and having 55 productions under its belt, El Gran Combo is nearing its half century and brings us its 56th album. El Gran Combo is one of the few band in the world that by listening to the first few notes of a song, you already know it is the flavor and cadence of "Los Mulatos Del Sabor." Tracks that will catch your attention will be a new arrangement of "Achilipu," originally performed by another member of El Gran Combo, Andy Montanez, this time sung by Jerry Rivas. "Esa Mujer" is a song about domestic violence and how the women should escape from that abuse. A tribute to Colombia in "Colombia Tierra Querida" gives thanks to the land of Bolívar for taking them in as sons. "Comejen," an old-school son montuno, is a dance-floor scorcher. "La Universidad de la Salsa" has not lost a step after nearing 50 years of sabor, and every salsero will tell you that without El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico no hay Paraiso!

Rivera is CEO of Latin Roc Entertainment ( and host of Esencia Latina on Jazz90.1 FM/WGMC-FM radio from 6-10 a.m. Saturdays and on Contact him at

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