Tito Puente once said, "Mambo is what you dance. Salsa is what you eat". Well, Tito, that might have been then, but today Salsa is here to dance and here to stay. Surprisingly, some of the most compelling new Salsa music is coming out of Colombia, rather than Cuba or Puerto Rico. The group that has led the charge for the past 25 years is Colombia's premier Salsa band, Grupo Niche.
If you like hard, driving, danceable Salsa (Salsa Dura), this is the group for you. Grupo Niche boasts a strong brass frontline with a large range of percussion rounding out the sound. The group's arrangements tend to be less complex than what we're used to hearing from Cuban groups and the music bursts out with an almost electric energy.
Based in Cali, Colombia, Grupo Niche was formed in 1980 by Jairo Varela who directs, produces, arranges, writes many of the songs, plays the guiro and sings. Given the longevity of the group, many of the players have branched off and formed groups of their own so there is a changing cast of characters with each of their albums. Their first album, Al Pasito was released that year, and there have been around 40 albums released since then.