The Roots of "Mambo"

Discussion in 'Salsa Music' started by Richie Blondet, Oct 2, 2013.

  1. arsenio123

    arsenio123 Son Montuno

    I think it is essential what the word mambo means. I give some definitions out of Cuban Spanish (Part 1):

    Mambo is perhaps the most controversial genre in the history of Cuban popular music. It is the one that has more parents and from which each interpreter or researcher gives a different version of their origin.For orchestra conductor and composer Obdulio Morales, mambo is a spontaneous voice, "an expression, a shout of a dancer during any mambo and was repeated by the other dancers until they understood it"

    For his part, the musicologist Odilio Urfé says: "At the voodoo ceremony practiced by the great majority of the Haitian people, call it mambo to the priestess who officiates that religious act"; And in another part of this definition: "Mambo is a very common expression among Columbians (individuals who practice rumba columbia), and it means efficiency, exigency, assent in the action of running a columbia." Then he states: "Palo mambo is a touch of African root, rarely heard at present"; And Urfé concludes: "Mambo is the title of a danzón of the popular composer Oreste López ..."

    Arsenio Rodríguez, a composer from Matanzas, who is not suspected as a theoretician, makes some observations about where in Africa's culture, which Urfé pointed out earlier, the word mambo originates: "The descendants of congos [...] Music that is called yucca drum and in the controversies that form one and another singer, following the rhythm, I was inspired and that is the true base of the mambo. Mambo is African, from the congo dialect.A singer says to the other: "Abrete cuto güirí mambo", that is: "open your ear and hear what I am going to tell you." The idea came to me because something had to be done to find the to live up the music or "cooking" [food], and I thought that uniting these things I could develop music to dance to. The first thing I wrote in this style was I'm gangá 1938, the first diablo/ "devil" or mambo recorded on disc was So caballo, 1943.

    Part 2, soon....
  2. arsenio123

    arsenio123 Son Montuno

    Today Part 2 on the Mambo:

    According to Dámaso Pérez Prado: "Mambo is a Cuban word. It was used when people wanted to say how the situation was: if the mambo was hard it was that the thing was wrong ... I liked the word ... Musically it does not mean anything , What am I going to tell a lie to.

    Mariano Pérez, in his Dictionary of Music and Musicians, defines the mambo as a "Latin American dance in 2/4 that has made popular since 1943 the Cuban Pérez Prado." However, rectifying the author of this information, we must say that in 1943 Perez Prado still had not created any mambo, although in his orchestration, by Bobby Collazo, recorded in 1944 by Orlando Guerra (Cascarita) with the Casino de La Playa Orchestra, already introduces, in the piano and in the saxofones, some of the elements that later will use in the mambo. In fact, as has been said, "The popular musical phenomenon called mambo has always existed, only with different names." Once it was called guajeo, another montuno or refrain, now mambo, has been produced since the origins of our music for being , From the formal point of view, the most primitive expression, since it is "anarchy within a time." "

    Let us assume, for the time being, that of all the versions on the origin of the word mambo, the one that most fits the truth is that of Arsenio Rodríguez, who agrees with Urfé as to his African affiliation, although Arsenio points out that it is Congo origin.

    Part 3 Soon..

  3. arsenio123

    arsenio123 Son Montuno

    We put the pieces together so far. We get mambo is a Congo/kikongo word. Referring to a priestess in the Haitian Voodoo ceremony. There are short syllabes from Congo songs called controversies or mambos sang during the Tambor Yucca.

    This inspired Arsenio Rodriguez to use these mambo riffs for his trumpets, he played the mambo rhythm on his tres, a guajeo, he extended his Son with a Montuno which is also called mambo and an extra section diablo or mambo in which these trumpets do play riffs which give a kind of 'anarchy within time'.

    Perez Prado uses Arsenio innovations for his jazz bigband as later Machito and others did, later on we call this 'anarchy in time' descarga!. In New York they replaced Arsenio's trumpets by trombones and what did they call this......

    More soon,
  4. DJ Yuca

    DJ Yuca El Sabroso de Conguero

    Machito started to mix jazz with son in 1940 - this predates Pérez Prado. It also predates a lot of Arsenio's innovations.
  5. arsenio123

    arsenio123 Son Montuno

    As always very bad informed! Arsenio started in 1930s and Perez Prado as well as pianist and composer of Casino de la Playa. Read the book and dissertation of David F. Garcia on Arsenio who developed of Son Montuno, Mambo and Salsa!

    Machito worked with Bauza, Chico O'farrell and René Hernandez who was painist of Casino de La Playa where he learned the job from Perez Prado and left for New York to be piansit and composer of Machito! They saw the success of Prado in Mexico and the US and started to play mambo as well. The Mambo barbarabatiri is from Prado and Benny Moré! Prado even used bop elements in his Mambos.

    There is further proof, all the Cuban LPs are collected by Diaz Ayala in his collection, there you find the truth!

    As I said before take a course on Cuban music and Spanish and than come back!

  6. DJ Yuca

    DJ Yuca El Sabroso de Conguero

    I'm not taking anything away from Arsenio or Prado, but you're severely underestimating Machito's significance in the history of Afro Cuban music. He was the one, along with his collaborator Bauzá, who first mixed big band jazz with son, starting in 1940. Maybe because this happened in NY instead of Cuba you wish it hadn't been like that? That's no excuse to try to rewrite history though.
  7. arsenio123

    arsenio123 Son Montuno

    These are false accusations, the facts are written down by David Garcia in his dissertation and book, not taking these scientific facts into consideration will lead to nonsense.:sing:

    I will write on the contribution on Machito when I think the time is suited to do so! He is no inventor! Puertoricans are rewriting the history of the mambo nowadays talking of "the big three", that's pure marketing! :(

    Mambo was already a long time in Cuba because it is part of the Congo religion for centuries, there is no Congo religion in Puertorico.....

    PS: Take a course on Afrocuban religion....;)
  8. DJ Yuca

    DJ Yuca El Sabroso de Conguero

    You have no idea what you're talking about. You're even willing to dismiss the leader of probably the greatest Afro Cuban orchestra of all time - just because his career took place in the US.

    You're quite funny, in a way.
  9. DJ Yuca

    DJ Yuca El Sabroso de Conguero

    p.s. I'm leaving this conversation too now (hopefully).
  10. arsenio123

    arsenio123 Son Montuno

    We proceed with part 3 of the roots of Mambo today.

    Another no less questionable aspect of mambo is its rhythmic feature. For some, "The mambo is nothing other than a guajira-son"; For others, "The mambo [...] is a type of syncopated montuno that possesses the rhythmic flavor of the Cuban, its informality and its eloquence. The pianist attacks in the mambo, the flute hears and it inspires, the violin executes in double string rhythmic chords, the bass adapts the tumbao, the timbalero peaks with the cowbell, the güiro strum and makes the soound of the maracas, the indispensable bass corroborates the tumbao and strengthens the timbal.

    And when Cuéllar Vizcaíno comes to the authoritative opinion of Obdulio Morales, he says: "The mambo is nothing more than a guajira-son. They are in their melodic part, protected by a powerful rhythmic accompaniment.It was what before called " montuno "or" refrain "But with another vigor.The rhythmic base divides the beat into four half-strong tempos, forming an ostensible contrast with the melody of the son montuno, constituted by a series of syncopations.

    And that is mambo, like almost all Cuban music, is syncopated; And Perez Prado since working with the Casino de la Playa orchestra, used syncopation in all saxophones, while the trumpet carries the melody and the bass accompaniment, which combined with the bongo and the tumbas.

    Thanks to professor Radames Giro from Havana.

    Soon part 4,
  11. Richie Blondet

    Richie Blondet Shine Officer

    Hey bro,

    Arsenio was innovating before the Machito band came to be. But even before Machito orchestra came to be, there were bands fusing Jazz with Sones, Guarachas, and other musical fusions like Shimmy-Paso Doble, Rumbas/Son being expressed as Fox-trots, etc. This is discographical recording information and not from a baseless "study" full of guesswork and ********.

    If you're going to get any book on this subject of who was doing what first and when, get yourself a copy of "Ethnic Music on Records: 1893-1942," SPECIFICALLY Vol. 4. Compiled by Richard Spottswood. Who had help from other serious discographers. That books explains everything you need to know. And all it is is a list of artists and their personal discographies. The dates they record, the label they recorded for, the location they recorded in, who took part, the names of the composers, what instruments were used... and that's it. That book has helped me track down a whole slew of recordings I felt were ignored by contemporary "Salsa" historians and when accessed they completely destroyed the popular narrative that the public and generations of it have been sold in articles, lectures and documentaries.

    As you already know and surmised, Damaso Perez Prado never invented the Mambo. What he was doing with Casino de la Playa and later as an orchestra leader are distinct from each other. Rene Hernandez, who Arsenio/Edsel name dropped in his post is truly THE innovator in terms of applying the concept Arsenio developed, which is the repetitive coordinated notes by the multiple trumpets he arranged for his conjunto, and applied them (Rene did) to a much larger orchestral setting. With the Julio Cuevas orchestra in the early 1940s. We're able to know this and HEAR it thanks to the recordings. The documentation of which places it earlier than Perez Prado arranging for Casino de la Playa. If you've ever done any research on what Perez Prado had ever publicly claimed, his explanations for Mambo were ALWAYS vague and symbolic-oriented. In other words, he never explained anything technically. He would come up with talking point. Mambo is a bit of this. A bit of that. You don't go that route unless you didn't actually come up with it. Arsenio, on the other hand, lays it all out. When he came up with it (which is supported by recordings) and what exactly did a "Mambo" entail. As in what makes a "Mambo" a Mambo." What distinguishes it from Son Montuno or Guaracha. It's the musical notes made by the brass. That's what Rene Hernandez introduced to the Julio Cuevas orchestra after being exposed to Arsenio's band doing the exact same thing, only in a conjunto format. One that also had a Tumbadora and piano, along with the typical bongo & bass that could be found in a typical conjunto of the era (sexteto/septeto) but gets amplified into the conjunto format we know of as today. This innovation also led to the development of the Danzon. Cachao was singing a different tune in the 1970s when he was brought out form obscurity by producer Rene Lopez and Andy Kauffman, to record an LP as a leader. His first since the legendary jam sessions in Cuba. Cachao was interviewed at length and, backed by other folks in the know like Marcelino Guerra, Armando Sanchez and others, all of whom were alive back then, Cachao acknowledged that it was being exposed to the Arsenio band when said band played alongside the Arcano band, that Cachao's brother Orestes drew inspiration from it and conceived of adding a section to a Danzon that would be more uptempo than usual. Again, the discography indicates the dates of recordings. They all compliment the oral history that was conveyed. (2 decades after this public admission by Cachao in the 1970s, Andy Garcia steps into the arena of Afro-Cuban music history and, along with a Cuban writer, begin to revise history. First by claiming that it was Cachao who invented the Mambo and citing the danzon composition that Cachao's brother came up with, but then declaring on television interviews or specials that Cachao's bass riffs on the Descarga album sessions he led in 1957 are what established the Mambo.

    1943 is when Tito Rodriguez, Sr. stated to a newspaper columnist that the "Mambo" was already present in NYC. Only back then, the commercial media outlets and recording industry were identifying it with "Rumba." In exactly the same manner that "Salsa" was used in the 1970s and now. His oral history is also backed up by recordings. By orchestras led by Anselmo Sacassas, Jose Curbelo and Machito. Sacassas, formerly with Casino de la Playa in the late 1930s and a NY band leader since 1940, was the first U.S. based bandleader to have the word "Mambo" on a song title that wasn't a Danzon. Followed By Curbelo and then Machito. If Cristobal Diaz Ayala's discographic list that Arsenio/Edsel provided on a previous post is correct, those recordings were released in 1946. That's before Perez Prado's "Que Rico El Mambo" is released in Mexico.

    The thing to note is that a Mambo doesn't have to be featured in the song title to be so. Which is why exposing oneself to actual recordings tells you the tale. More than a written history by anyone of any stature. Because we all have a set of ears and can judge for ourselves. That "Mambo" Sacassas did in '46 sounds no different than a lot of other recordings he and a group of others wound up recording/releasing. Furthermore, the Mambo craze was outside of Cuba and still is. The U.S. in particular was a nurturing ground for it and is how people internationally became aware of it. Perez Prado was a hit in Mexico. Its only when he is signed by the RCA-Victor label in the USA that he becomes world renowned.
    Marcos, DJ Yuca, terence and 3 others like this.

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