El Maestro

Johnny Pacheco returns to World Salsa Congress, May 26 - 29

By Dena Burroughs
Published on LatinoLA: May 22, 2005

El Maestro

Johnny Pacheco turned 70 years old last March. For about fifty of those 70 years he has been busy making music and helping the Latin scene develop into what it is today.

Maestro Pacheco was born the 25 of March of 1935 in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic. His father was the musician and bandleader Rafael Asarias Pacheco.

Rafael moved his family out of the island when Johnny was about 11 years old, under pressure from the then in-command dictator Trujillo, who insisted that Rafael's band, La Lira del Yaque? be renamed La Orquesta Generalisimo Trujillo?, which Rafael refused to do.
That is how Johnny Pacheco ended up in New York, where he continued to be influenced by music from Cuba, which he would listen to on a short-wave radio, just as he used to do back in the Dominican Republic.

Growing up in the 'Big Apple' he studied music as well as electrical engineering, and eventually decided to concentrate solely in his music. Once dedicated full time to it, he developed his skill and his relationships with other great ones such as Perez Prado, Xavier Cugat, Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri, Willie Colon, Hector Lavoe, Celia Cruz, and many other names now known as legends.

Johnny Pacheco first got a harmonica from his father around the age of seven. In time he became proficient in the use of the accordion, the violin, the saxophone, the clarinet, all sorts of percussion instruments, and became one of the top flutists of his era.
In 1964, along with Jerry Masucci, Pacheco founded the very successful Fania Records label, and a few years later became the musical director of the now famous Fania All Stars.

Today, Johnny Pacheco is a respected composer, arranger, bandleader and producer. Throughout his bright career he has accumulated important awards and recognitions, including nine Grammy nominations, ten Gold records, and his induction into the International Latin Music Hall of Fame.

Johnny Pacheco will once again be part of the 2005's West Coast Salsa Congress, to be held on the grounds of the Hollywood Park Casino starting Thursday, May 26th and until Sunday 29th. Each of these nights will feature two recognized Salsa bands, as well as dance performances. Each evening's activities will go on from 8 pm to 4 am. More detailed information can be found at http://www.Salsaweb.com/LA and http://www.atpevents.com. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door at a cost of $45 per night.

Johnny Pacheco is certainly "a pioneer, an innovator and more importantly, a living legend." Last year he delighted us with his music, on stage next to great names in the Salsa world such as Roberto Roena and Oscar Hernandez. This year we can expect nothing less. Take advantage of the opportunity to see 50 years of musical genius perform live right in front of your eyes!

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