Artist

Oscar D'Leon

Biography

A skill at improvisation is combined with a highly textured vocal tone by Venezuela-born Oscar D'León. A top-ranked performer in his homeland, D'León has continued to solidify his following throughout the world. A joy for entertaining has been a constant thread throughout D'León's career. In a 1996 interview with the Chicago Tribune, D'León said, "My message is not about ecology or politics, but it's simply that people have a good time and remember me as someone who loves them." Born in the Caracas neighborhood of Etamin, D'León was influenced by Cuban musicians including Beny Moré and la Sonora Mantacera and by New York-based Latin performers including Eddie Palmieri and Willie Colón. He taught himself to play bass by listening and playing along to records. "I am not a maestro like they say," he explained. "I try to make my instrument sound coherent." D'León balanced his early career as a vocalist with full-time employment as a taxi driver and factory worker. Forming a band, la Dimensión Latina, in 1973, he recorded his first hit, "Pensando en Ti," shortly afterward. Three years later, he formed a second group, la Salsa Mayor. D'León, who's known affectionately as "El Leon de la Salsa" (The Lion of Salsa), has toured with very large groups. In addition to touring and recording with a 19-piece band featuring five saxophones, four trombones, and four trumpets, D'León toured with a 15-piece group in 1996. And after a slew of releases in the late '90s, D'León returned in the new millennium with Doble Play. ~ Craig Harris, Rovi