Jairo Varela, Founder of Colombia's Great Grupo Niche, Dead at 62

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I have always loved Grupo Niche, and they have remained my favorite of all the great Colombian tropical groups:  Guayacán, Fruko y Sus Tesos, Sonora Carruseles, you name it.  Colombia salsa is special:  it tends to be very soulful, and often mixes in some funky cumbia grooves to get those cinturas moving.  They also have one of the best horn sections in the business, and their arrangements also are always virtuosic and top-knotch.

Grupo Niche is popular in Miami and New York, but has always been popular here in LA, playing all the big halls for salsa and dance aficionados.  They have also written tribute songs to Mexico and have an adoring fan base among Mexican-Americans living here in LA.

And so I say, with much appreciation and calories burned on the dance floor, RIP to Jairo Varela, founder of Grupo Niche, who died today in his hometown of Cali, Colombia.  Your music has been, and always will be, celebrated on dance floors around the world, wherever people enjoy salsa and clavé, which today is everywhere on earth.

Here’s a video of them: note the great horn section, and how the guys are perfectly in step, even the bass player.