Grupo Niche is a salsa group founded in 1978 in Bogotá, Colombia. Currently based in Cali, Colombia, it enjoys great popularity throughout Latin America. It was founded by Jairo Varela and Alexis Lozano. Jairo Varela has stayed with the group becoming producer, director, songwriter, vocalist and guiro player. Alexis Lozano, trumbone player, later left to form Orquesta Guayacan. It also included Nicolas Cristanelo, on the piano; Francisco Garcia, on the bass; Luis Pacheco, on the congas; as well as vocalists Jorge Bassam and Hector Viveros.
Grupo Niche's first album: "Al Pasito" was released in 1980, did little to challenge the dominating salsa band of Colombia at the time, Fruko y sus Tesos. The following year, however, the group found success with their second album, "Querer Es Poder", particularly with the single "Buenaventura y Caney".
The group relocated in 1982 to Cali where they have been based since. After recording two more albums, Grupo Niche released "No Hay Quinto Malo" in 1984, which featured their signature song, "Cali Pachanguero". The tribute hit single to the "world salsa capital" catapulted Niche as one of the top salsa bands of Colombia.
In 1986, the band incorporated Puerto Rican vocalist Tito Gomez, who had previously worked with the famous Puerto Rican salsa group, la Sonora Ponceña, and Ray Barretto, the Godfather of Latin Jazz. Later that year, Grupo Niche released "Me Huele A Matrimonio". Afterward, yet another Puerto Rican joined, the pianist Israel Tanenbaum, who would eventually leave the group to join a Niche spin-off band: Orquesta Guayacán.
Grupo Niche is known for both its vigorous, uptempo dance music as well as slower-paced romantic numbers. Among its best known hits are "Cali Pachanguero", "Del Puente Pa'llá", "Sin Sentimientos", "Una Aventura", "Etnia", "Gotas de Lluvia", "Han Cogido la Cosa", "Mi Pueblo Natal", "Hagamos Lo Que Diga Corazon", "Duele Mas", "Nuestro Sueño", and the famous cumbia "Canoa Rancha". Their most famous song is "Cali Aji".
Some of the most famous singers from Niche throughout its history include Alvaro del Castillo, La Coco Lozano, Tuto Jiménez, Saulo Sanchez, Tito Gomez, Moncho Santana, Charlie Cardona as well as Willy Garcia and Javier Vasquez, now members of the group 'Son de Cali'. They have been very successful, and some of their songs are considered Classics of Salsa Music. The group still enjoys some of its past successes, and, as of 2006, is on tour, making worldwide presentations, and singing their most memorable songs.
Musician Tito Gomez, who fronted the group for 8 and half years (1985–1993), died on June 14, 2007. Gomez lived in Cali, the city of the Grupo Niche.