Plena Libre

Plena Libre


Puerto Rico’s #1 contemporary plena big band, GRAMMY & Latin GRAMMY nominees PLENA LIBRE’s energetic Afro-Puerto Rican plena/salsa fusion features joyous percussion, rich vocals, horns & the dynamic dance steps of 13 musicians.


2003 GRAMMY Nominees "Best Latin Traditional Tropical Album"

2003 & 2002 Latin GRAMMY Nominees

December 2003: New CD, "Estamos gozando" to be released by "Camínalo Discos", salsa giant, Gilberto Santa Rosa's new record label!

“I congratulate Plena Libre for upholding and modernizing the sacred folkloric rhythm called plena, and I wish them always the very very best on the bandstand.What they have done for la Plena is extraordinary. I am honored that they recorded my plena, titled “Plena Plena Plena” –Eddie Palmieri.

These are the words with which the great Eddie Palmieri has summed up the Plena Libre experience. The group’s appeal stems from their innovative interpretation of the plena genre. With a style that draws on both the traditional and the modern, Plena Libre has taken this rhythmic genre of Puerto Rican origin through new and exciting developments.

Plena Libre captured Puerto Rico’s imagination and interest right from its inception in 1994. Their music became so popular, that it inspired the introduction of the genre, which unto that point was considered folklore, on local commercial radio stations. Songs like "Mañana por la mañana", "El bembé de plena (Es la cosa)", "Voy subiendo", "El celular" and "A mi manera" were now on the same playlists as tropical commercial genres such as salsa and merengue.

Recognition of Plena Libre as a cultural and musical force in Puerto Rico followed, as they received awards from the House of Representatives, the Rafael Cepeda Foundation and the City of Loíza, a city that has greatly contributed to development of both the plena and the bomba.

In 1996, Plena Libre made their way into the mainstream theaters when they began to play large venues such as Puerto Rico’s University Theater. The group was the first of its kind to have their own show at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum, where they were joined by other prominent Puerto Rican artists including Andy Montañez, Melina León, Domingo Quiñones and Son by Four in the production "Puerto Rico sabe a Plena.” At this point also began to perform internationally at various music festivals in the United States, Latin America, Europe and Asia.

In 1998, the a review in the Paris Liberation stated that "Their music is irresistible. Their repertoire is authentic and creative; their style, free and progressive. C’est magnifique". The following year, with the international launch of Juntos y Revueltos, Latin London quoted that "this production must be part of any serious collection of Latin music". Later Newsday said of the CD Más Libre that it was "music for the mind, the body and the heart." Billboard commented that “this album is eminently multidimensional dance music. Arrangements by Gary Núñez –extraordinary- he knows how to take the songs to unsuspected terrain." Tracks from this CD were heard in Belgium, Colombia, Germany and the United States, followed by and the Grammy 2001 Nomination for Best Traditional Tropical Recording.

Back home they were honored at the dedication of the XXXI Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián, an event that has become the largest carnival production honoring Puerto Rican culture and folklore.

The group is now launching their new album – Mi Ritmo, an independent project that comprising of diverse romantic, instrumental and traditional numbers. Mi Ritmo displays how Plena Libre has grown. Their sound is more fully developed than ever, with brilliant arrangements, jazzy trombone-powered harmonies and a solid ensemble digging in over the compelling, uptempo drive of the panderetas – the tambourine-like instruments that are at the heart of the plena.

On this album the group is joined by special guest stars that include seven-time Grammy winner Eddie Palmieri (who takes a mind-expanding solo on his own composition "Plena Plena Plena"). Among invited guests are also Roberto Rohena on bongó (on "Mi Amor", a kind of rumba-plus-plena) and Puerto Rican percussion mainstay Angel "Cachete" Maldonado (who plays Afro-Cuban batá drums on "Traigo una Pena.") Cachete also appears playing quinto -- the highest-pitched drum, which "talks" over the rhythm – on "Olandera," a jazzy bomba (the African-derived style that together with the plena represents Puerto Rican identity.) Puerto Rican roquero Millo Torres contributes a scorching electric guitar solo on "Remolino de Mar" (Waterspout). Pianist Richard Trinidad in appears "Solo tú (Gotas de un mismo río)" and violinist David Betancourt is featured "Vive con ganas",

The compositions features six new tunes by bandleader Gary Núñez and one by group members Kayvan and Kevin Vega, who make their debut as songwriters with "En la Calle." "Traigo una Pena" is a tune by Núñez developed from an improvisation by Puerto Rican salsa superstar Tito Rojas during a performance by Plena Libre. And the album's traditional number, "Déjalo Que Suba," is well known to those who remember the departed Puerto Rican legends Rafael Cortijo and Ismael Ri


2004 Estamos Gozando! Times Square Records
2003 Mi Ritmo Gn Musica
2000 Mas Libre RykoLatino
Juntos y Revueltos II - 1999 - RykoLatino
Plena Libre - 1998 - RykoLatino
Plena Libre Mix - 1998 - ACP
De Parranda - 1997 - ACP
Plena Pa'Ti - 1996 - SJ Records
Cogelo que Ahi te Va - 1995 - SJ Records
Juntos y Revueltos I - 1994 - ACP

Set List

Set list can be provided, but varies show by show. Typically performances are 1 show of 75-90 minutes or 2-45 minute sets.