Conjunto Ingenieria


Compiled by El Dragón Criollo and El Palmas Music. As the 1950s drew to a close a group of students at Caracas's Universidad Central de Venezuela caught the tropical music bug and decided to form an orchestra. With the majority of the students coming from the engineering faculty, they were duly christened Conjunto Ingeniería (The Engineering Group) and from the offset, they were ahead of the game. Tropical music, or música bailable (danceable music), was slowly making its way to Venezuela, but Conjunto Ingeniería had a secret weapon as one of their fellow students was studying in New York and every July he'd return with the latest Latin big band sounds: Tito Puente, Machito, they heard it first. Nine young male musicians playing the hippest sounds around, they were the obvious band to play high-society quinceañeras (15th birthday celebrations to mark a "girl's journey into womanhood"), as well as playing countless times at the university, on TV, at weddings, and at carnival, where on one occasion they accompanied Celia Cruz. "We were the first group to play at the launch party for 'salsa', a term that was established by the [Venezuelan] announcer Phidias Danilo Escalona in Barquisimeto we were considered the best orchestra", says Marquez. On record, their eclecticism and musical chops belied their age. In 1961, they released their self-titled debut album, which tackled mambo, guaracha, cha-cha-cha, and charanga, which included their cover of The Diamond's "Little Darlin'", arguably the first rock n' roll song recorded in Venezuela. They followed it up with Aqui Esta El Conjunto Ingenieria, their second album in 1962, in which they showed once more that rock could easily sit next to Latin. Their last album, Boogaloo Con Ingenieria, arrived in 1967, and made clear the influence of New York in their sound. Conjunto Ingeniería came to an end at the beginning of the '70s. Though their recording output was nowhere near as prolific as their contemporaries Billo's Caracas Boys or Los Melódicos, if you were turning on the TV, going to carnival or, especially, attending a quinceañera, in Caracas in the 1960s, then you would no doubt of come across Conjunto Ingeniería and their rock n' roll-embellished New York-meets-Venezuela big band sound. On this compilation, simply titled Conjunto Ingeniería, El Palmas Music have cherrypicked a glorious selection of tracks from across the group's career, capturing all the creativity and youthful excitement that made them one of the first titans of Venezuela's tropical music history.