In April 2012 the band celebrated their 25th anniversary with a concert at the Assembly Hall in Islington and won their first LUKAS award for ‘Lifetime Achievement and contribution to the Latino Community in the UK’. In June 2013 Roberto Pla and his Latin Ensemble headlined the ‘Glasto Latino Stage’ at Glastonbury Festival and subsequently won their second LUKAS for ‘Concert of the year’ in spring 2014

Roberto’s Story – so far

Roberto Pla was born in Barranquilla on Colombia’s northern Atlantic coast, an area rich in music and folklore. As a boy Roberto studied percusion with Pompelio Rodriguez, at that time Colombia’s greatest percussionist.

In 1964 he left Barranquilla to study music at the National University of Bogota, and while he was there he became an active session musician playing with the best bands in his country including Los Ocho de Colombia. From 1968-78 he played drum kit with Orquesta Lucho Bermudez, Colombia’s leading big band, with whom he toured Latin America and the States, recorded numerous albums and appeared weekly on Colombian TV.

In 1979 Roberto left Colombia for New York where he became a busy salsa session percusionist working with amongst others Orquesta La Tradicion in 1980 the atractions of the Europan pop scene drew him to London where he joined the jazz-fusion band Cayenne, and Latin-funkesters Gonzalez (World Tour).

1982 he was touring the world with pop megastars Boney M. since that Roberto has been resident in the U.K. Artist that he has played and toured with include Joe Strummer (Ex Clash) with whom he featured in the French film ‘I Hired a Contract Killer’ Caribbean soca star Arrow (Europe&U.S. tour) Spanish pop band Radio Futura, Japanese duo The Frank Chickens, and rock heavyweights Motorhead (with whom he featured in the film ‘Eat the Rich’.)

In 1987 he toured Japan and the far east with the legendary Slim Gaillard, and performed in North Africa with Cuban pianist Alfredo Rodriguez. He has also recorded for Kate Bush and M. People.

In 1991-2 he toured Europe and America with Virgin Records-signed pop singer Sonny Southon.

In summer ’93 he recorded and toured Europe with Bluenote-signed rap act US3.

He has also toured Europe and America with legendary percussionist Carlos ‘Patato’ Valdez and Fania Allstars vocalist Adalberto Santiago, Azuquita and Tito Allen. Recently (98) toured Europe with Sidestepper and the Nuyorican Poets.

In November ’99 Roberto toured China with Trevor Watts’ Moire Music.

In September/October 2000 Roberto toured Canada, USA, Central and South America, and Caribbean Islands with Trevor Watts.

Roberto was a founder member of the UK’s first salsa band Valdez.

Cofounder of U.K. Salsa band Sonido de Londres who recorded two albums. In 1988 Roberto founded his own 12 piece all-star band the Roberto Pla Latin Ensemble who have numerous European Festival and TV appearances, and in 1990 released ‘Cumbia Dominique’.

In 1991 they released a track in the ‘Freedom From Debt’ CD (WDM Records) In 1993 they receive a bursary from the Arts Council of Great Britain to tour the U.K. and in the Autumn 93 they toured the far east.

1995 recorded a follow-up CD for Tumi Records. And a further release In Spring 97.

In Spring /96 Roberto’s band participated in the Salsa Legends Tour Featuring among others the great Azuquita on Vocals as special guest Plus Alfredo Rodriguez. on Piano Justo Almario on Tenor Saxophone (Ex Eddie Palmieri Orch. & dizzy Gillespie United nations Orchestra) Steve Turre on Trombone.

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