Grupo Niche is a salsa group founded in 1978 in Cali, Colombia. Currently based in Cali, Colombia, it enjoys great popularity throughout Latin America. It was founded by Jairo Varela and Alexis Lozano. Varela remained with the group throughout his life, serving as producer, director, songwriter, vocalist and guiro player. Alexis Lozano, trombone player and arranger later left to form Orquesta Guayacán. The group also included Nicolas Cristancho, on the piano; Francisco Garcia, on the bass; Luis Pacheco, on the congas; and vocalists Jorge Bazán 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 Aji", "Del Puente Pa'llá", "Sin Sentimientos", "Una Aventura", "Etnia", "Gotas de Lluvia", "Han Cogido la Cosa", "Mi Pueblo Natal", "Hagamos Lo Que Diga Corazón", "Duele Mas", "Nuestro Sueño", and the famous cumbia "Canoa Rancha". Their most famous song is "Cali Pachanguero". In 2002 they recorded the album Control Absoluto in Miami Florida with the engeniers Alex Arias and Jossel Calveiro.
Some other 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'. Most recently joined are the Puerto Ricans Oswaldo Roman and Julio Lopez and actual singer Elvis Magno from Buenaventura. 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 keeps on tour, making worldwide presentations, and singing their most memorable songs.
Musician Tito Gomez, who fronted the group for seven and half years (1985–1992), died on June 12, 2007 in Cali, the city where Grupo Niche was established.