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(b 22 Oct. '50, Manhattan, NYC, of Puerto Rican parentage) Salsa 

bandleader, pianist, percussionist, producer, arranger, composer, label 

boss. Started studying violin and orchestration at high school '65; soon 

switched to trumpet; played conga in street rumbones (rumba percussion and 

vocal jam sessions); did amateur gigs. Became disillusioned with school; 

joined US Army '69-71; taught himself piano by copying Charlie and Eddie 

Palmieri and Richie Ray; learnt to read music while serving in Korea; 

after discharge married Korean girlfriend Myong '71. Returned to NYC, 

there organised short lived Orquesta Cuda; changed to conga and founded 

band La Nueva Comparsa; switched back to piano and formed Conjunto Salsa 

'73 (with lineup of two trombones, trumpet and Latin rhythm section), 

making album debut withSalsa Boricua on SMC. "The album was recorded on a 

hot summer day in June 1974 in Gabriel Oller's studio in Queens, off 

Woodhaven Boulevard," recalls Wayne. "It was about 90 degrees outside and 

at least 10 degrees hotter in the studio with only fans to cool us off. 

The band had just finished playing four gigs and hadn't had any sleep. We 

started at 9:00 a.m., but were gung ho and eager to record!"

Besides producing and co-arranging, he wrote most of La Salsa del Conjunto 

Salsa con Wayne Gorbea '78 on Disco International incl. the dark, brooding 

"Los Rumberos"; the lineup comprised two trombones, one trumpet and 

rhythm. Follow-up on that label La Salsa y Charanga c '79 introduced a 

charanga flavour by adding flute and violin to two trombones, trumpet and 

rhythm. Issued 12 inch single "Ariñañara" (composed by Chano Pozo)/ "The 

Night Is Still Young" '80, his first release on his own Wayne Go label. 

Dedicated Sigan Bailando '86 on Wayne Go to Myong; future Libre member and 

Los Soneros del Barrio co-leader Frankie Vázquez provided lead vocals and 

played güiro. Album incl. a remake of Justi Barreto's composition "Lo Que 

Dice Justi" (previously recorded on Salsa Boricua ), arr. by Wayne's 

longtime collaborator: arranger, composer, percussionist and coro singer 

Ramón "Ray" Rosado (b26 Nov. '51, NYC, of Puerto Rican Parentage). "I was 

travelling once with Grupo Niche from Colombia," recalls Frankie. "When 

their vocalist Charlie Cardona found out I was the singer onSigan Bailando 

, he sang the whole of 'Lo Que Dice Justi.' all the soneos and everything. 

My hairs were sticking out, because I couldn't believe that this kid knew 

all the song. The timbalero came up to me and tells me: 'You know that it 

is like an icon in Colombia. All the bands that start. 'Lo Que Dice Justi' 

is a song that they all study. It's like what you have in New York: 

'Bilongo.' For us it's 'Lo Que Dice Justi' in Colombia. All those young 

trombone bands, they're doing that tune. You can't find a band that 

doesn't do that tune." (excerpt from Frankly Frankie, The Reluctant Sonero 

Del Barrio by John Child and David Barton, Descarga website, 26 Dec. '99)

Conjunto Salsa's mus. dir. and bassist Harry Justiniano departed '87 (also 

taking along his brother, conguero Angel Justiniano, and Vásquez) to 

become mus. dir. of the Bronx-based charanga Charanson led by pianist/ 

prod./ composer Héctor Serrano. For the next couple of years mus. dir. 

duties were shared by trombonist/ arrangers Dave Chamberlain and Rick 

Davies (b 9 Mar. '51, Albuquerque, New Mexico; a Gorbea sideman since '85; 

became full-fledged mus. dir. '89 following Chamberlain's move to Cruz 

Control; leader of Jazzismo and college professor). Gorbea opted for a 

three trombone frontline for Conjunto Salsa on El Condimento '88 on 

Martínez Records; Orlando Avilés sang lead vocals, played güiro and wrote 

three tunes incl. the title track (Avilés had contributed compositions to 

Gorbea's earlier albums and sang on Salsa Boricua ). One of the album's 

highlights was Chamberlain's tough and funky arrangement of the '48 

Arsenio Rodríguez classic "Tumba Palo Cucuye."

Gorbea and Conjunto Salsa often performed live on Al Angeloro's WBAI radio 

show Montuno (started '86; later evolved into his eclectic world-beat show 

New York International broadcast on WBAI until '91); Angeloro chose Gorbea 

to lead an on-air jam session in honour of the recently deceased Charlie 

Palmieri Sept. '88, from which emerged a stunning version of "Tumba Palo 

Cucuye" by the Wayne Gorbea All-Stars, the most popular track chart-wise 

on the compilationThe Montuno Sessions - Live From Studio 'A' '95 on Mr 

Bongo, which also incl. Charanson's "Descarga (Around Midnight)" of Dec. 

'87. Gorbea made his UK debut guesting on claves and coro (chorus) with 

Libre Mar. '92.

A successful once a week residency for two months at SoHo's González y 

González club '96 inspired Gorbea to take his band, re-christened Salsa 

Picante by Libre's leader Manny Oquendo and returning to a two 

trombone/one trumpet combination, into the studio to make the solid 

swinging Cogele El Gusto '97 on Wayne Go. Frank Otero (b 29 Apr. '54, NYC, 

of Puerto Rican parentage) sang lead vocals, having replaced Avilés a few 

years earlier. (Otero was lead singer on the '70s album Andy Suárez And 

His Orchestra on J.R. Melody.) "Their sound oozes with Bronx sassiness," 

wrote Libre's mus. dir. Andy González. The album became an instant hit in 

UK Latin clubs. Re-release on Shanachie in late '98 provided wider 

distribution. In March '99 Wayne and Salsa Picante provided further 

testimony of their UK popularity by completing a sellout national tour.

He followed-up on Shanachie with the cracking Saboreando'00, described by 

UK deejay/ columnist Dave Hucker as "the first major Latin release of the 

21st century." It contains 10 tunes and every cut swings incl. the sure 

fire dance floor filler "El Yoyo," previously done by Cortijo (incl. in 

Invites You To Dance/ Los Invita A Bailar on Seeco), and an almost 10 

minute killin' remake of Eddie Palmieri and La Perfecta's "Estamos Chao" 

(from Mozambique '65 on Tico). "Gorbea's piano solo on this track amply 

demonstrates why he has developed into one of the finest piano soloists 

currently performing in the Afro-Cuban/ salsa tradition. Eschewing the 

technical glibness of many of his fellow keyboardists, Wayne goes straight 

to the heart and swing of the matter," writes Salsa Picante's mus. dir. 

and first trombonist Rick Davies. Another UK tour is proposed for Oct. 


Wayne's recordings have involved regular sideman Rubén Borgas (b 4 Aug. 

'49, Puerto Rico) on timbales or bongo (he appears on the reissue CD 

Exitos by Paul Ortiz y su Orquesta Son on Ghetto Records); other notable 

contributors incl. trombonist/ arrangers Ronnie Williams and Rubén Lebron 

and trumpeter/ arr. Junior Vega. Personnel of Wayne Gorbea's Salsa Picante 

in 2000 incl. Otero, vocals; Gorbea, piano/leader/coro; Richie Sanquintin 

(b 5 Aug. '55, Dominican Republic), bass; Davies (mus. dir.) and Rafi 

Malkiel (b 14 Apr. '72, Jerusalem, Israel), trombones; Tomer Levy (b 21 

Oct. '72, Tel Aviv, Israel) and Mike Lewis, trumpets; Borgas, timbales; 

Juan Rodríguez (b2 Nov. '46, Puerto Rico), bongo/coro; Frank Reyes (b 16 

Mar. '45, Puerto Rico), conga (he played on Ray Rodríguez y su Orquesta c 

'70 on Cotique); and Rosado, güiro/coro.

Tomado de