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Every time I travel by car to the Sultana del Valle, on the way to Cali, where the road coming from Armenia meets the Valley at that point in La Paila, I can’t stop singing in my head: “For miles I feel your aroma … ” Then I grab the Niche CD, the one called “No Hay Quinto Malo” and I start listening to Cali Pachanguero at full volume.
To think that this story of Niche, well known in Cali, had its beginnings in the cold afternoon of 19th Avenue with Seventh in Bogotá, where the old booths were selling imported books and albums. It was in mid-1979 when two young Chocoano musicians, came to the capital and created Grupo Niche. Jairo Varela and Alexis Lozano, toured the streets of Bogotá, having lunch at La Casa del Pacifico and then at Bordo Canto to greet Cesar at Pace Goce, the most visited salsero rumbeaderos of those times. In that year they released their first album Al Pasito with the label Daro, but in 1982 when the song “Buenaventura y Caney” came out, we all went crazy for their sound. The Attic’s attic trembled every time Mariano Candela let that record play on the turntable.
Niche got to us, like a fever in our bodies until we reached 40 degrees of slow death, when in the December of 1984, in the central plaza in Cali, we sang to “everything, everything, everything what…. Let the whole world sing to you … “. The album Cali Pachangero became the most important salsa anthem in Colombia. Cali was Niche and Niche was Cali. What would come after this concert would be success followed by success, improving further two years later with the arrival of Puerto Rican singer Tito Gómez to the group, who then released their most successful album of all time, Cielo de Tambores in 1990.
The complete musical history of Grupo Niche is made up of 28 albums over 29 years of salsa playing all over the world. But Niche’s legacy not only remains in their musical production, but in that sense of belonging and joy that awoke throughout my generation and that still continues to provoke today. That is why the tenth anniversary of FEP could not be better celebrated than with the presence of this mythical group that is already “Touching the Sky with their Hands”: The Niche Group!
Fernando “Flaco” ‘Solórzano
Actor and salsero