Pérez Prado

Pérez Prado Biography

Dubbed the King of Mambo at the height of his fame, Cuban bandleader/arranger Perez Prado was instrumental in creating the sound. Starting in the 1940s, he blended the music of his native country with elements of big band jazz to form an infectious and extremely danceable hybrid. First coming to notice as the pianist/arranger in the Cuban big band Orquesta Casino de la Playa, Prado's popularity spread to Mexico, Latin America and, in the 1950s, the United States. Because his two #1 hits, "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White" and "Patricia," were as much (or more) pop as mambo, Prado is sometimes unfairly remembered as an easy listening instrumentalist. In fact, the bulk of his material was comprised of hot dance tunes highlighting bursts of shrill horns, busy bongoes and, at times, ghostly organ. His irresistible, propulsive rhythms swung with great verve and humor, punctuated by shouts and grunts from various bandmembers. One of the most popular Latin musicians and bandleaders of his time, both in Latin America and the U.S., his innovations were also widely appreciated by jazz fans and musicians. He was largely forgotten by the American audience after 1960, but remained active until his death in 1989. - Richie Unterberger


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