Domingo ”Tito” Gutiérrez
Domingo ”Tito” Gutiérrez is one of those names that can never be missing when talking about Latin music in the United States, since the contribution made by this musician has been invaluable. That is why we found this to be a good opportunity to look back on the trajectory of this great artist, who has demonstrated again and again that the language of music is universal and crosses borders.
Childhood and musical beginnings
Tito Gutiérrez was born in Guánica southwest of the ”island of Enchantment”, Puerto Rico on August 16, 1957 into the heart of a culturally Latin family, especially in the case of music. However, he moved with his parents to New York City when he was about 11 years old.
Given that little Domingo had to start making friends again after the move, he took every opportunity to interact with other children of the same age, which led him to meet a group of kids enthusiastically playing instruments in a park.
The boy had never played an instrument before in his life, so he felt a little intimidated at first, but that did not stop him from approaching them and saying he wanted to play with them. When asked him what instrument he played, he replied that he played the bongo, since he noticed that the improvised band did not have one.
This is how Domingo joined them, started playing the bongo and continued playing it until he became a professional of this instrument.
Professional life in music
In 1972, he finally ventured into music at a professional level with the same instrument with which he began in this world during his childhood and it was the group El Son De Hoy that gave him his first job opportunity.
Not much time would pass before he became a musical director and founder of an orchestra when he created his own group called Orquesta Borinqueya. At the same time, he was also working with the Orquesta Alianza Boricua, with which he was recording a studio album.
For a period of approximately five or six years, the artist has been recording with countless local orchestras with which he has continued to make a career and expand his musical curriculum, such as Orquesta La Crítica, Orquesta Nelson Feliciano, Orquesta Crisis, Orquesta Guainía, among others.
In 1978, he went to live in New York and did his thing with the bongo along with some groups such as Grupo Melao, Conjunto Avicú and Peter Brown Jazz Cuartet.
In the late 90’s, his fame had grown so much that he has had the opportunity to work in orchestras of international stature such as Orquesta La Terrífica, Orquesta Costa Brava, Orquesta de Simón Pérez, Orquesta de Roberto Ortiz and more. He has also shared the stage with Ismael Miranda, José Alberto ”El Canario”, Andy Montañez, Cano Estremera, among others.
Today, he plays for La Sonora Ponceña of Puerto Rico, ”45 Aniversario” being the first project he recorded with the group and has participated in a number of albums with this great team.
While on tour with the different orchestras to which he has belonged, he was able to visit a large number of countries such as Venezuela, Ecuador, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru, Panama, Spain, France, Italy, among others.
Parallel to all this, Domingo has his own line of bongos which he named ”Tito Gutierrez Bongo Series”. This line is part of an initiative of the Reyes Family, who are a group of Colombian artisans who are dedicated to designing bongos of different colors and sizes.
Johnny Cruz Correspondent for ISM in New York City