The Story of Michi Sarmiento y Su Combo Bravo

By - 04 May, 2011

In April this year Soundway Records released Aqui Los Bravos! The Best of Michi Sarmiento y su Combo Bravo 1967 – 77, a collection of pure Colombian dancefloor thunder. A mixture of guagancós, descargas and cumbias recorded by Michi Sarmiento and his group.

The most striking thing about that album was how ferocious many of the tracks are. This is not music for the light-hearted, this is raw, undiluted stuff. If anything, it felt like a glimpse into the nightlife of Cartagena in the late 60s and 70s.

The star of the disc is Michi Sarmiento, a name that may not be familiar to many people. Sarmiento was born in the Cartagena province of Colombia to a musical family; his father Climaco Sarmiento played sax and clarinet in the orquestras of both Lucho Bermudez and Pacho Galan, and would later become one of the in-house arrangers at Discos Fuentes, arranging for Pedro Laza y sus Pelayeros, La Sonora Cordobesa and others.

Encouraged by his mother who wanted Michi to follow in his footstep’s father, Sarmiento began playing with other musician – merecumbe was the most popular style around this time – around Cartagena in the late-50s and early-60s. It was already clear at this time that he would go onto great things, such was his gift with the saxophone. He would form his Combo Bravo around 1967 focusing on guaguancó, descarga and porro, as well as performing rousing versions of early salsa and boogaloo hits.

Through the late 60s and 70s Michi Sarmiento y su Combo Bravo were one of the premier salsa groups in Colombia, while also gaining international notoriety through the recordings they made for Disco Fuentes at this time. These are the recordings found on Aqui Los Bravos! The Best of Michi Sarmiento y su Combo Bravo 1967 – 77. They were recorded live using the same arrangements the group would have used for their live shows.

Here is a recent interview with Michi Sarmiento in which the great bandleader tells some of his story:

Read Tom Crookston’s review of Aqui Los Bravos! The Best of Michi Sarmiento y su Combo Bravo 1967 – 77 here.

We also have three copies of Aqui Los Bravos! The Best of Michi Sarmiento y su Combo Bravo 1967 – 77 to giveaway. If you would like to win a copy please click here.

This article is based on the liner notes to Aqui Los Bravos! The Best Of Michi Sarmiento Y Su Combo Bravo 1967-77, written by Robert Gyemant.

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