Master cuatro player Yomo Toro knows that you don’t have to be in Puerto Rico to enjoy a traditional Christmas. Aluminun foil may replace banana leaves for the pasteles, buildings and streets may replace the mountains and countryside, but nothing replaces a tipico parranda of aguinaldos, bombas and plenas.
Over thirty years ago Yomo Toro, Hector Lavoe and Willie Colon urbanized the sound of Puerto Rican Christmas with their classic album Asalto Navideño, which fused the music of the traditional Puerto Rican Christmas troubadours with the wild urban salsa that was developing at the time. Here Yomo's original aguinaldos are presented once again with a modern touch, with swinging jazz and salsa arrangements, recorded in New York and Puerto Rico with an all-star ensemble.
Produced by Rachel Faro and Sammy Figueroa, the album features stellar performances by singers Jerry Medina and Dalia Silva, and musicians Eric Figueroa (piano), Joe Santiago (bass), Bobby Allende (congas), Cachete Maldonado (percussion), Ralph Irizarry (timbales), Papo Vasquez (trombone), Ray Vega (trumpet) and Bobby Franceschini (saxophone), with Adalberto Santiago, Deborah Resto and the late great Nestor Sanchez on backing vocals. Soaring over everything, Yomo's lightning speed riffs and joyful jibaro spirit provide a jubilant tribute to a rich and joyful way of life.
Salsa, jazz, plena, bomba, seasonal or all year round, this album is an ingenuously soulful expression of the heart of Puerto Rico, played with the gallantry and excitement that is Yomo Toro.
"It's a classic..." New York Times
YOMO TORO (b. July 26, 1933 – d. June 30, 2012)
Yomo Toro was the world's leading player of the 'cuatro', a Puerto Rican ten-string guitar-like instrument descended from the Spanish vilhuela. He was sometimes referred to as 'the Jimi Hendrix of the cuatro" due to his showy antics onstage, playing the cuatro on his back, with his teeth. Yomo's amazing artistry and sweet nature won him accolades from several generations of fans.
Born in Ensenada, Guarnica, Puerto Rico, Yomo spent most of his life in the Bronx, close to Yankee Stadium. In a career spanning more than five decades Toro recorded over twenty solo albums on various record labels including Island Records, Fania Records and Ashe Records. He appeared on over 150 albums, including numerous collaborations with Willie Colon and Hector Lavoe and other Fania stars and more recently Latin superstar Mark Anthony. Early in his career he recorded four albums with Trio Los Panchos, including one featuring Eydie Gorme.
Known for his adventurous musical spirit, Toro crossed over to many other genres, recording with Harry Belafonte, Paul Simon, Linda Ronstadt and David Byrne, among many others. He also appears on several film soundtracks, notably Woody Allen's Bananas and Crossover Dreams with Ruben Blades.
Yomo Toro passed away in the summer of 2014. Soon after he was honored by the Latin Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences with a posthumous Trustees Award.