Roena, Roberto [Vázquez, Iván Ro(h)ena ]
- Mark Lomanno
[Vázquez, Iván Ro(h)ena ]
(b Mayagüez, PR, Jan 16, 1940). Puerto Rican bandleader and bongo player. Roena began his career in music as a dancer, taught by his uncle, the renowned Aníbal “Andy” Vásquez. Known for his spectacular acrobatic presentations, Roena caught the attention of bandleader Rafael Cortijo, who hired him to accompany his ensemble on a tour of New York, during which they performed at the Palladium Ballroom. Cortijo taught Roena percussion and eventually hired him as the bongocero for the group. Several members of Cortijo’s combo left the group to form El Gran Combo, which Roena eventually joined in 1962, appearing on the highly influential Puerto Rican All-Stars Featuring Kako (Alegre) the following year. In 1966 Roena recorded his first album, Se pone bueno/It Gets Better (Alegre), with his newly formed Latin jazz group, the Megatones. In 1969, after leaving El Gran Combo, he formed his new group, Apollo Sound. This group’s renown stems from the spectacularly orchestrated live concerts and unique sound among salsa ensembles. This sound derives in part from the influence of bands such as Chicago and a long roster of highly skilled arrangers, such as Papo Lucca, whose work can be heard on ...