A New York-based Dominican boy band with roots deep in bachata? If that sounds unlikely, well, Aventura managed to cope with it. The group was formed in 1994 in the Bronx by four boys (Anthony Santos, Lenny Santos, Max Santos, and Henry Santos Jeter) who were determined to break Dominican bachata music out from its traditional base and fuse it with the other sounds they heard every day, like hip-hop and R&B. Interestingly, unlike other youths seeking success, they didn't give themselves over to a producer who might mold their sound; instead, they proceeded to learn all the skills they needed themselves, from production to instruments. Their real break came in 1999. Signed to BMG, they released their debut -- with an outside producer. The material, however, was their own, and they resisted the attempt to turn them into a cookie-cutter boy band in the style of the Backstreet Boys or *NSYNC by ensuring that the bachata element remained dominant. However, it fell between the cracks of both the burgeoning Latin movement and the pop/R&B chart-toppers.
Three years passed before they released We Broke the Rules, during which time they worked hard to refine what they were doing and find a true direction. Whatever they did, it appeared to work, as the single "Obsesión" became a hit with Latin youth, finding a strong crossover into hip-hop. However, as the album's title promised, they did break all the bachata rules, bringing the style very much into the new millennium without sacrificing the style's roots. While catching a growing U.S. audience, they also became popular in Europe, thanks to frequent touring and a different sound. In 2003, they returned with Love & Hate, which saw them progressing even further with their sound, adding merengue into the mix and upping the R&B/hip-hop quotient without losing touch with their background, singing in Spanish, English, and Spanglish.
God's Project, released in 2005, was widely regarded as the group's best album to date, and it was followed with the two-CD/one-DVD set K.O.B.: Live. The 2007 set Kings of Bachata: Sold Out at Madison Square Garden featured guest performances from Miri Ben-Ari, Wisin & Yandel, and Don Omar. That same year they took home two awards, including Best Traditional Tropical Act, at the Univision television network's Lo Nuestro awards show, plus three honors at the 2007 Billboard Music Awards. Their 2009 effort, The Last, featured guest appearances from Wyclef Jean, Ludacris, Akon, and Wisin y Yandel. Two years later the CD/DVD set 14 Plus 14 arrived, featuring 14 of the group's greatest hits along with their accompanying videos. The group parted ways in 2011, with Romeo and Henry Santos both recording as solo performers while Lenny and Max formed Grupo Vena. Aventura reunited in late 2015, and announced a series of concerts to be held early in 2016 at the United Palace Theater in New York. ~ Chris Nickson