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In 1926, Maria Teresa Vera founded the Sexteto Occidente at the urging of Columbia Records for whom she had worked for in 1914 and who competed with Victor's Sexteto Habanero. The Occidente traveled to NYC to record and appeared at the Apollo Theater. The group's records didn't catch on and they did not continue recording.

When they returned from NYC in 1927, Ignacio Piñeiro (1888-1969), who had learned bass in order to play with the Occidente and had composed many of the numbers, created a new group at the bequest of Columbia Records. It was one of the most important in Cuban music history and became known as the Sexteto Nacional.

The veteran cantador Alberto Villalon was a founding member of the Nacional as were Juan de la Cruz and Bienvenido Leon, previously singers with the Villalon. The Nacional had the greatest of the early generation of soneros recruited from Sexteto Habanero: Abelardo Barroso (1905-1972).

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