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 BIOGRAFIA Willie Colón

(Nueva York, 1950) Músico estadounidense de ascendencia puertorriqueña. Maestro del trombón y de la fusión de distintos ritmos caribeños, afroamericanos y de la música urbana, formó junto al vocalista Héctor Lavoe una de las parejas más relevantes en la música latina de los años setenta, y está considerado uno de los pioneros en el desarrollo del auténtico movimiento salsero a finales de los años sesenta y principios de los setenta.


Willie Colón

Nieto de emigrantes puertorriqueños, Willie Colón creció en el barrio latino del distrito del Bronx, un hecho que marcaría gran parte de su trayectoria personal y artística, con lo que ello implicaba de rebeldía y trasgresión de las normas establecidas. Tras estudiar trompeta y clarinete, su admiración por Mon Rivera le llevó a decantarse por el trombón a los catorce años, y dos años después, en 1966, grabó su primer disco con el significativo título de El Malo.

Editado al año siguiente por la firma Fania, en este primer trabajo ya contó con la inconfundible voz de Héctor Lavoe e introdujo elementos del folklore musical puertorriqueño, en especial la bomba, mezclado con los ritmos hirientes y ásperos propios del trombón, de lo que fueron buenos ejemplos temas tan exitosos como Jazzy I wish I had watermelon.

Junto a otros destacados músicos de origen caribeño como Ray Barretto, Bobby Valentín, Reynaldo Jorge o el propio Héctor Lavoe, Willie Colón participó en 1971 en la grabación del concierto de las Estrellas de Fania, considerado el evento que lanzó el movimiento de la salsa de Nueva York. Ese mismo año su magistral interpretación del tema Piraña, compuesto por Tite Curet Alonso, lo lanzó a la fama y lo convirtió en uno de los iconos de dicho movimiento musical.

Bajo el sello de Fania y junto a Héctor Lavoe grabó más de una docena de discos hasta 1975, entre los que destacaron Guisando (1969), Cosa Nostra (1970), El Juicio (1972), Asaltos Navideños (1972) y The Good, The Bad, The Ugly (1975), todos ellos muestras genuinas de la salsa urbana o de lo que vino a denominarse como “sonidos del barrio”, la más fiel muestra del sentir del emigrante puertorriqueño en la gran metrópoli neoyorquina. Con sus trabajos con Fania, su fama se extendió entre la comunidad hispana de Estados Unidos y por gran parte de Latinoamérica; en 1975 tuvo la oportunidad de tocar junto a su ídolo Mon Rivera.

A finales de los años setenta su espíritu rebelde lo llevó a desarrollar junto al cantante panameño Rubén Blades lo que se conoció como salsa conciencia, canciones que denunciaban la situación política y social de América Latina; la conjunción con Blades resultó especialmente afortunada, con trabajos de gran calidad como Metiendo mano (1977) y Canciones del Solar de los Aburridos (1982); este último álbum fue premiado con un Grammy. Además de con los ya citados, Willie Colón colaboró a lo largo de su trayectoria con artistas de la talla de Celia CruzTito Puente o David Byrne, e interpretó algunos papeles en la televisión mexicana.


Portada de El malo (1966)

A partir de los años noventa su faceta artística dejó pasó a una intensa actividad en la vida social y política norteamericana, acorde a su compromiso en favor de la comunidad hispana: así, en 1993 se presentó a las elecciones primarias en el Estado de Nueva York; en 1995 se convirtió en el primer hispano que ingresaba en el Consejo Nacional ASCAP; y en 1999 formó parte de la delegación que fue recibida en el Vaticano por el papa Juan Pablo II con el motivo del Jubileo 2000, además de colaborar habitualmente con organizaciones humanitarias como Naciones Unidas y Amnistía Internacional. Desde 1998 residió en México Distrito Federal junto a su esposa e hijos.

 

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