Much of D'Leon's repertoire was stellar, but a few moments stood out. "La Murga de Panama," with booming congas and heavily African choral techniques, seemed intended to mesmerize as much as to prompt the packed house to move its collective feet."Que Bueno Baila Usted" was an appropriate homage to El Beny.
And during a passage in which he saluted many Latin American countries, D'Leon's bell-clear tenor and nimble improvisatory style was revealed during passages in which he was accompanied only by guiro and hand claps.
Merengue can be some of the best dance music around - for about 15 minutes, that is. After that, often, every song begins to sound the same.
But a truly great merengue band (such as early Wilfrido Vargas) can overcome that problem easily with astute compositions, arrangements and choreography.
The Dominican group Jossie Esteban y La Patrulla 15, now based in Puerto Rico, showed that it has only partially figured out this paradox during an hour-long set that followed D'Leon.
Thanks to co-leader Ringo Martinez, La Patrulla's main arranger and composer, this 11-man, one-woman aggregation is blessed with horn charts that push its tunes to strive for more than simple movement.
On hits such as "El Tigeron," "Sopita de Cabro" and "La Carga," saxophones danced with trumpets, doubled with trombone, duplicated percussion breaks, swirled seductively. But other aspects of La Patrulla's material - melodies, choreography, Esteban's banter with women in the audience - were mediocre.