For over a decade, the New York salsa band Conjunto Clásico have managed to keep the traditional Cuban conjunto format of trumpets (three in their case), conga, bongo, maracas, güiro (scraper), bass, piano, tres (six- or nine-string Cuban guitar) and voices, sounding modern and fresh. The nucleus of the band has been executive producer, chorus singer and percussionist Raymond Castro and composer, producer, chorus singer and percussionist Ramón Rodríguez. Between 1979 and 1990, Clásico released 11 albums on their own Lo Mejor Records label. After the band’s 1986 album, lead singer and founder member Tito Nieves left to go solo. He was replaced by ex-Grupo Fascinación lead vocalist, Johnny Rivera, on Clásico’s 1988 and 1989 albums. He too departed and made his solo debut in 1990 withY Ahora De Verdad.
Prior to Conjunto Clásico’s formation, Ramón Rodríguez had produced the 1979 debut album by Julio Castro and his Orquesta La Masacre, with Tito Nieves on lead vocals. Additionally he composed the hit track ‘El Pregonero’. In 1988 and 1990 Rodríguez produced and wrote all the songs forNuevas Ideas and El Bautizo by his own trombone-led band. 1990 evidenced the marriage of Clásico with the fine voice of Rafael de Jesús on Ray Castro Presenta Conjunto Clásico Con Rafael De Jesús - Sensaciones, one of their best albums to date. José Febles replaced Rodríguez as producer and wrote all the charts. However, Ramón performed on the album and penned five tracks. Febles contributed arrangements to all Clásico’s previous releases and was musical director on their 1979 and 1980 albums. Castro and Rodríguez also produced albums by other artists on their Lo Mejor label: Lo Mejor Presenta: José Bello Y Su Orquesta (1981), Jose Bello Y Su Orquesta (1983) and Expresa E Interpreta Sus Sentimientos (1984) by the young talented Dominican band leader, singer and composer José Bello; Cantar (1981) by Tito Allen; Daniel Santos con el Conjunto Clásico (1981) by the veteran former heart-throb Daniel Santos (b. Daniel Doroteo de los Santos Betancur, 5 February 1916, Trastalleres, Santurce, San Juan, Puerto Rico, d. 27 November 1992, Ocala, Florida, USA);Con La Misma Piedra (1983) by Cesar Nicolas y su Orquesta ‘Show’; El Encuentro (1983) by Johnny ‘Dandy’ Rodríguez, former co-leader of Típica 73. Ramón Rodríguez, Ray Castro and Tito Nieves performed on all these Lo Mejor productions and Ramón contributed compositions to the majority of them. Bello returned in 1989 as co-label boss with B&B Records presenta A José Bello.