The Machito Orchestra:
Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow
Mario Grillo in conversation with John Child
Percussionist and bandleader Mario Grillo, aka Machito Jr., made his stage debut at the age of five at New York's legendary Palladium ballroom and became the musical director of his father's even more legendary Afro-Cuban band in 1975. His recording debut with the orchestra,1975's Dizzy Gillespie y Machito: Afro-Cuban Jazz Moods (Pablo), and the 1977 follow-up Fireworks (Coco), were both nominated for Grammy Awards. Then Machito and his Salsa Big Band 1982 (Timeless) took them all the way to Grammy land. He has led the Machito Orchestra since his father's death in 1984. As the title of the piece suggests, Mario talks to John Child about the past, present and future of the Machito Orchestra as well as his work with the Big 3 Palladium Orchestra, which he co-leads with Tito Rodríguez Jr. and Tito Puente Jr..
John I Child (JIC): To set the scene, please tell me about the important musical family you were born into on March 17, 1956 and the rich musical heritage it represents?
Mario Grillo (MG): To begin I was born into a family of five: two boys and three girls. In order of birth: Martha, Frank, Barbara, Mario and Paula. We all received unconditional love from our parents. All they expected from us was to be decent human beings. I hope we have met this goal. Being the "son of" is always tough, people expect you to "leap tall buildings in a single bound." But I love the challenge and look forward to meeting the high expectations people have of me and my brother and sisters. However, we were surrounded by music and musicians 24/7, and would spend 10 weeks every summer at the Concord hotel in the Catskills for 22 years. This was my training and learning ground. My first teacher was Uba Nieto, my dad's timbale player for decades. I was five years old at the time and later that year I played my first gig at the Palladium playing a timbale solo while standing on a chair with "The King" Tito Puente. Tito has been a life long influence and was a mentor to me.
(NOTE: The band's 1958 album Vacation At The Concord on Coral Records [reissued on Verve in 2004], while not recorded at the resort, is testimony to Machito's close association with the hotel.)
JIC: Your father initially named his band Machito and his Afro-Cubans, which Bobby Sanabria has described as "one of the bravest acts in the history of the civil rights movement." Would you like to comment?
MG: Yes, it was a bold move. At that point no one was declaring anything, especially their roots, so to name a band Afro-Cubans in 1939 was very forward thinking.
JIC: While your father was away for military service in 1943, his musical director and brother-in-law Mario Bauzá is said to have been responsible for the genesis of jazz / Latin fusion called at various times: Afro-Cuban jazz, Cubop and Latin jazz, when he created "Tanga." Please tell me more about the Afro-Cuban jazz / Cubop movement in the 1940s and early '50s and the key role the Machito organisation played in it?
MG: Mario Bauzá was light years ahead as far as his concept of marrying Afro-Cuban rhythm and the big band jazz orchestra format, with creative artists such as Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Flip Phillips, etc. It was a marriage made in heaven and continued to enthral audiences world wide with Chico O'Farrill, Gil Fuller, Edgar Sampson, René Hernández, and later Ray Santos. It took shape rather quickly and no one has ever looked back. The Machito orchestra served as the catalyst for this progressive movement in the music.
(NOTE: The band sessioned with Howard McGhee and Brew Moore on the Roost 78 "Cubop City - parts 1 & 2" '48: "arguably the first true Latin jazz recording," wrote John Storm Roberts; with Charlie Parker on records such as "Mango Mangüe," "Okidoke" '48-9; the 10 inch LP Afro-Cuban Jazz Suite '50 also featured Flip Phillips, Buddy Rich, Harry Edison. This material is compiled on The Original Mambo Kings - An Introduction To Afro-Cubop '93 on Verve; Cubop City '92 on Tumbao collects sessions recorded at NYC's Royal Roost and Bop City nightclubs '49-50 featuring McGhee, Moore and Phillips; Carambola '92 on Tumbao compiles three live broadcasts from NYC's Birdland club '51 featuring Zoot Sims and Moore.)
JIC: Mario Bauzá may have been the inventor of Afro-Cuban jazz, but it has been said that the band's popular trademark sound was provided by the consistently jazz-inflected arrangements of René Hernández, Machito's arranger and pianist from 1945 to 1966. Would you like to comment?
MG: I believe the expression is: "The pen is mightier than the sword." In the case of René, he was "the pen." Machito, Mario and the band were the sword.
JIC: Let's move next to talking about the first of your four favourite Machito albums before you joined the band, Kenya (Roulette, 1957), the title of which was inspired by the newly formed African republic. José Madera, who attended the recording at the age of seven, has described Kenya as the greatest record ever done in the Afro-Cuban jazz genre. Please could you share your views?
MG: Well, when you have great musicians and arrangers and composers at the peak of their musical abilities, how can you go wrong?! It is indeed a groundbreaking performance that has stood the test of time, I truly doubt whether it could ever be equalled in my lifetime. But we will keep trying
JIC: Your next favourite album, Mi Amigo, Machito (Tico, 1958), was released the year after Kenya and couldn't be more different. While Kenya was very much for the jazz crowd, Mi Amigo, Machito has always struck me as a "commercial" crossover project aimed at the mainstream market. The definite highlight for me is the sublime "Sunny Ray" composed and arranged by Ray Santos. I am looking forward to hearing your views?
MG: I was in Virgin Records a while back and saw that Mi Amigo, Machito was re-issued on CD. I bought it and put it on in the car on my way home. Geez, I had forgotten what a great album it was. I spoke to Ray Santos and he made me a fresh copy of "Sunny Ray." It is one of my favourite Ray Santos compositions that I still play with both the Machito Orchestra and the Big 3 Palladium Orchestra. There are "commercial" tunes on the record, which of course are geared for a broader audience, but they are all swinging and very well played
a classic Machito album.
JIC: Mi Amigo, Machito was made in the day when it was customary not to provide personnel credits on the album sleeve. Can you help out with credits for the musicians, arrangers, producer, studio, recording date, etc?
MG: Please check with José Madera on this question of personnel, but I believe it's José Mangual Sr., Uba Nieto and Johnny "La Vaca" Rodríguez Sr. on percussion. The horns I believe were José "Pin" Madera, Leslie Johnakins, Lenny Hambro and Ray Santos. Mario was still in the trumpet section
JIC: I understand that your father always paid attention to popular musical tastes and what sold the best?
MG: He always listened to everything, both Titos of course, Count Basie and the Beatles. He wanted to know what people found interesting enough to go out and pay their hard earned money for on a record.
JIC: During the early '60s charanga / pachanga craze and while still under contract to Tico's parent company, Roulette Records, the Machito band made two albums for the West Coast GNP label. The first, Machito At The Crescendo (1961), Alfredo "Chocolate" Armenteros's recording debut with the band, is another of your favourites. Tell me about this project and this phase in the band's history?
MG: This was a period of transition and new blood. Mario had moved to the sax section and Choco was now the lead player with Fred Zito, John Audino and Emilio Reales. The band was on fire. Leslie Johnakins on baritone sax is the ultimate soloist on "Varsity Drag Mambo," a truly awesome album from start to finish.
JIC: The same question: can you help out with credits for the musicians, arrangers, producer, recording date, etc, for Machito At The Crescendo?
MG: Check with José Madera, he is the "Shell Answer Man" when it comes to personnel.
(NOTE: According to José Madera, the personnel on Machito At The Crescendo are: Pedro Chaparro, Alfredo "Chocolate" Armenteros, Jimmy Zito and John Audino Trumpets; Mario Bauzá, Joe Livramento, Aaron Sachs, (one whose name I don't remember) and Leslie Johnakins Saxophones; René Hernández Piano; Sarrail Archilla Bass; Armando Albertini Conga; Henry Rosa Bongo; Ubaldo Nieto Timbales; Carlos Montiel, Machito and Graciela Coro. He adds: "The entire Gene Norman Presents recording project was all done at one time. They recorded about 23 or 24 tunes that GNP later released under the guise of two separate albums: Machito At The Crescendo and The World's Greatest Latin Band.")
JIC: In 1968 the boogaloo craze was raging and Machito was without a recording contract. George Goldner stepped into the breach and signed him to his new Cotique label. The result, after a false start, was the Soul Of Machito (1969), which is the final selection in your quartet of favourite albums. The title was reissued in 2006 with excellent liner notes by José Madera together with previously unpublished personnel credits. Please share your comments about this project?
MG: I went to that recording as a kid, it was Machito keeping with the times and following the philosophy: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. But the album is terrific. "Ahora Si," a boogaloo, written by Joey Pastrana (a major player in the boogaloo era), put Machito on the map again with the youth of the day, who only knew Machito from their parents and grandparents record collections. Now, Machito was hip and the tunes like "El Santo En Nueva York," "Jammin' With Machito" and "Donde Aprendiste" were dynamite and kept the dancers on the ballroom floor all night.
JIC: Am I right in believing that the Grammy nominated Dizzy Gillespie y Machito: Afro-Cuban Jazz Moods (Pablo, 1975) with Chico O'Farrill was your recording debut with the Machito orchestra?
MG: Yes, and what a first recording. Dizzy Gillespie and Machito, need I say more! I had already been doing jingles for Chico in New York City and knew my way around the studio scene. This was my coming out party, and I will never forget it. I also recorded with the Village People, Patrick Jouvet, the Ritchie Family and hundreds of percussion over-dubs for the disco music of the day.
JIC: Are you in a position to comment on the details of the reportedly acrimonious split that occurred between your father and Mario Bauzá in late 1975?
MG: It was not acrimonious. It was a business decision. Do we go to Europe with an ensemble or do we wait for another point in time to go with the full orchestra? Mario Bauzá said no, we don't go. Machito and I, Mario Grillo, said yes, we would go. We were right, he was wrong. Period.
JIC: You replaced Mario Bauzá as musical director on 1977's Grammy nominated Fireworks for Harvey Averne's Coco label. This was a major stylistic departure for the Machito band and featured Lalo Rodríguez, who composed three tracks, as co-lead singer. Pleas tell me about this project?
MG: Just like the boogaloo era, this was a chance for Machito to reach a new and young audience; Lalo was very hot at that point having had great success with Eddie Palmieri. It was a no-brainer, the album was well received and provided us with a ton of work. Again, this was Machito saying yes instead of no.
JIC: Jorge Millet, who also arranged three tracks and played electric piano on his self-penned descarga "Macho," conducted the two sessions for Fireworks. I am interested in finding out more about Jorge. Please could you share your knowledge of him?
MG: Jorge was a gifted arranger, pianist and composer who died way too soon. He had the pulse of the music and had great love and respect for Machito, as such his arrangements were on the money. A true talent and a gentleman.
JIC: Did the band perform the material from Fireworks live with Lalo Rodríguez?
MG: Yes, Lalo was with us for performances in the USA coast to coast, Puerto Rico and Venezuela. A musical genius, beautiful voice, delivery and interpretation skills. As they say: one of a kind. I would love to do a Fireworks Volume 2.
JIC: Bearing in mind that in the second half of the '70s, the New York salsa boom had already peaked and smaller bands were the order of the day, was the Machito orchestra working much?
MG: Yes! We worked. I played places like the Corso, La Mancha, Chateau Madrid, NY Casino, D's Den, Honka Monka, Cork and Bottle, Hipocampo, Barney Google's, The Penthouse, Jupiter's, the Crazy Dungeon, Barbara's Club, "My Way" and weddings and bar mitzvahs, and corporate events
JIC: Tell me the story behind the band's increasing number of European engagements that began in the mid-'70s?
MG: 1975 was the door opener for Machito, with concerts in Berlin and Paris. All of a sudden there was a demand for us. We went to Helsinki for three weeks at the Hesperia Hotel and the rest, as they say, is history. Our promoter, Antti Einiu, put us together with Wim Wigt of Timeless Records and that was the beginning of our long tours and recordings.
One summer we did ten weeks in Europe. We covered thirteen countries and 35 cities, and did enough miles on the bus to go from New York to California three times. Through it all, Machito was the first one on the bus every morning. He was a trouper and put all the young kids in the band to shame. Without his leadership, we would have been cooked. He was already in his 70s. But like they say, there is nothing more tenacious than an old lion, they can still roar and BITE! (Laughter) If memory serves me right, we did 55 gigs in 66 days. Incredible!
JIC: Give me some insight into the decision to re-brand the orchestra "Machito and his Salsa Big Band," which was very much a family affair with your sister Paula also providing vocals?
MG: Well the term salsa is generic and basically describes music of Cuban origin, mambo, cha cha, montuno, rumba and guaguancó. So it was more for the purpose of identification more than anything else.
JIC: Performances by the Tito Puente and his Latin Septet and Machito and his Salsa Big Band at London's now defunct Venue in November 1981 and February 1982 respectively paved the way for increasingly frequent gigs by visiting Latin acts during the 1980s and subsequent decades. Machito and his Salsa Big Band followed this with five residencies at London's Ronnie Scott's club and a trio of albums for the Dutch Timeless label between 1982 and 1984. Before we talk about the Timeless records, please share your memories about the London residencies and the band's other international dates?
(NOTE: London dates by Machito and his Salsa Big Band: Monday 1 February 1982, The Venue;
Monday 31 May - Wednesday 2 June 1982, Ronnie Scott's;
Monday 28 June - Saturday 3 July 1982, Ronnie Scott's;
Monday 8 September - Saturday 20 November 1982, Ronnie Scott's;
Monday 20 June - Saturday 2 July 1983, Ronnie Scott's; and...
Monday 12 April - Saturday 17 April 1984, Ronnie Scott's [probable '84 dates].)
MG: All it took was one gig in London and it then became our home base. I love London and so did Machito. We would stay up to two weeks at Ronnie's (in my opinion the greatest club in the world). Pete King and Ronnie were out of this world and treated us like royalty. I will always love them so much and especially my dear friend Brian Theobald of www.bprmusic.com.
JIC: Chocolate was a regular fixture with the Salsa Big Band in London. Unless my memory is playing tricks, I seem to remember that Nicky Marrero was with the band during one Ronnie Scott's residency. Probably June / July 1983? Can you confirm this?
MG: Yes, Nicky came out with us to do a summer tour that featured Dizzy Gillespie as our guest. Nicky is one of my idols, a dynamic player who gives 110% every time out. He was on bongo, Frank Valdés Jr. on conga. One of my all-time favourite rhythm sections. Another one of my favourite sections featured conguero Arturo Puerto, aka "Papo Conga," and Little Ray Romero on bongo. That was the rhythm section that went to Finland the first time in 1979. I was at the Pori Jazz Festival with the Big 3 last year. Mina Rakastan Suomi (translation: I Love Finland).
JIC: Moving to the Timeless albums, the Grammy winning Machito and his Salsa Big Band 1982 (recorded the weekend after the band's first London gig), Live At North Sea (1982) and Machito!!! (1983), all made in Holland and featuring Chocolate. They mainly reprised classic numbers from the Machito book - an exception being "Ronnie Scott Mambo" from the last album. How did the hook-up with Timeless come about and what are your reminiscences and opinions of these recordings?
MG: These recordings came about when we played in a place called Nick Vollebrechts Jazz Café in Laren, Holland. It went out live over the radio to all of Holland and neighbouring countries. Wim Wigt asked us to go into the studio the next day and record the set of music we played at Nick's. We started recording and Wim went out to get Chinese food for the band. When he came back to the studio we were gone. We recorded that Grammy Award winning album in four hours, basically one take per tune. A couple of tunes we took two shots at. Done.
Live At North Sea was a follow-up, and I always love to record live. What it is, is what it is - you just go out and play.
The last one was also done in four hours, mostly one take, and a couple of takes for a couple of the tunes. It took four hours because we would mix the tune right after we put it on tape. Otherwise we would have done it in two hours.
JIC: Then, when the Salsa Big Band (which I recall was reduced in size) were in London in April 1984 for a residency at Ronnie Scott's, your father fell ill. Please could you pick up the rest of the story?
MG: We were at the start of a European tour; Holland was first and then on to London and the rest of the cities on our hit list. Machito suffered a stroke and died in London. My brother and sisters and family doctor, Dr. Manuel Sanchez Acosta, came out immediately and they had a chance to say goodbye. A very difficult moment in our lives. I don't think that after 20 years, the shock of his loss has left us.
He was the Alpha and Omega of our lives. My dad made us breakfast, lunch and dinner every single day, and we never had the same meal. He would take our orders like a restaurant, steak for Mima, chicken for Frank, pork chops for me, veal for Barbara and a burger for Paula. And my mother (Hilda Grillo) would watch him and laugh. We were quite spoiled in this regard, but he didn't care, he just wanted to make us what we wanted. Awesome. His silver dollar pancakes in the morning were my favourite and I still make them for my family, with blueberries, or sliced bananas and whipped cream on top. His French toast was also killer.
(NOTE: Machito passed away on Monday 19 April 1984 at University College Hospital, London.)
JIC: I believe you returned to Ronnie's after Machito's death?
MG: Yes, I finished out the week of performances at Ronnie's and came home for the funeral. Machito said: "The show must go on, you are in charge, take care of business." I later returned to Ronnie's with my ensemble called Machito Jr. and Piscean Dreamer.
JIC: Thereafter, Ronnie's pursued an almost exclusive policy of staging acts from Cuba. In my view, this tended to promote and reinforce a very one-dimensional perception of Latin music in the UK, which still holds sway to a significant extent. I would be interested in your opinion?
MG: Everything at Ronnie's is always first class. The bands like Irakere, Los Van Van, etc, are top shelf, it is still the place to hear the very best in music: Cuban, jazz, fusion, etc.
JIC: Meanwhile, you made three Latin jazz albums with Chocolate for the Caimán label: Chocolate en Sexteto (1983), Rompiendo Hielo! (1984) and Chocolate y Amigos (recorded in the '80s, but not released until 1995). Tell me about these recordings and did they generate live work?
MG: These recordings were fun to do, Choco always liked my drum set playing, and having Andy González, Mario Rivera, Sergio George and Frank Valdés Jr., made it a magical experience. We played gigs and had a great time at the same time.
JIC: Your father's career was commemorated in the award winning film Machito: A Latin Jazz Legacy (1987), directed and produced by Carlos Ortiz. It had its premiere at London's National Film Theatre in November 1987 and was broadcast on the UK's Channel 4 in January 1989. What are your memories of the making of this film, which I understand attracted some controversy?
MG: It was a wonderful film because it showed Machito as he truly was, humble and always appreciative of the land of milk and honey, America. Where else can you go with a dream and have it become reality? As for controversy, I don't remember anything other than positive reviews and the desire for people to see the film worldwide. Carlos Ortiz did a fantastic job and captured on film the essence of Machito: the man, the musician, the humanitarian, the father.
JIC: There is one incredible sequence in the film featuring Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Ray Barretto and Candido performing with Machito. A young Mario Grillo can be seen in the background playing campana. Tell me about this performance?
MG: Dizzy, Ray and Candido as well as Tito Puente and Celia Cruz joined the festivities that glorious day at City Hall. I was blown away by the energy and love displayed on and off the bandstand. One of my favourite times, for sure. By the way, Mayor Koch renamed the four corners of 111th Street and 3rd Avenue Machito Square. We were all born in El Barrio. My brother Frank felt it would be a fitting tribute to our father.
JIC: Tell me about the continuing story of the Machito Orchestra following your father's death?
MG: This is our 67th year of business and I see no reason why we can't make it to 100. My dad told me: "We made this band to last forever," and I truly believe that. I do my very best to get the best players to interpret this unique music, and take it around the world: Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, England, France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Japan, Austria, Panama, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela and places I don't remember
JIC: Has Paula continued to perform?
MG: Paula has dedicated her life to the world of academia, but still has a gorgeous voice, a true gift from above. Machito always used to say: "Music is from the inside out, not the outside in."
JIC: The Machito Orchestra did not record again until October 19, 1995, when it performed at a concert tribute to Machito recorded at the Hostos Community College of Arts & Culture. Three numbers were included in the CD Jammin' In The Bronx (Tropijazz, 1996). Tell me more about this event?
MG: Two dear friends, Robert Sancho and René López, put this event together. They wanted to pay tribute to Machito in his home borough, the Bronx. Ralph Mercado loved Machito and loved the performance that night. Ralph then released the CD on his Tropijazz label and it was a big success. I will forever be in debt to these three fans of Machito and his music.
JIC: Despite no new recordings, the orchestra enjoyed somewhat of a renaissance thanks to the U.S. swing revival, and marked its 60th anniversary with dates in Amsterdam, Paris, Hamburg, Helsinki, Stockholm and Copenhagen during January and February 2000. Tell me about this period?
MG: The music speaks for itself and people want to hear the roots. I love to play on the road, it's where I have always felt I play my best and the band sounds its best. I am also the typical tourist, shopping, museums and points of interest. I'm the first one on the tour bus, so was Machito. I dig the bus, train, plane, ferry and any means of transportation it takes to make it to the next gig.
JIC: Let's focus for a while on your personal activities outside the Machito Orchestra. I understand that you used to manage the Windows on the World venue at the top of the World Trade Center, and fate intervened on September 11, 2001 to delay your departure for a business breakfast scheduled for that morning.
MG: I have been involved in the food and beverage industry for many years and was on the opening team for the Windows on the World. I had gone out to California to play concerts in L.A. and San Francisco the week before 9/11. I broke my ankle on the trip and missed work that morning. I now wake up and smell the roses like never before and thank the good Lord for letting me stick around a bit longer and enjoy my family and friends. Without the support and love of my wife Antoinetta, I would never have made it this far.
JIC: There is a saying about London buses: you wait for ages and then two come along at the same time! Something similar happened with two New York big band CDs, The Latin Giants Play The Music of the Palladium (Gigante Records) and the Big 3 Palladium Orchestra's Live At The Blue Note (Rumba Jams), both released around the same time in 2004. You co-led the latter, José Madera acted as musical director on both and there are some overlapping personnel. Then the Lincoln Center Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra entered the fray in 2005 with Noche Inolvidable (An Unforgettable Night) - Jazz At Lincoln Center's Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra With Arturo O'Farrill (Palmetto Records). Surely economics militate against "the more the merrier" in terms of opportunities for gigs for big bands? What is your take on the situation?
MG: "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." Everybody is now playing the music of Machito, Puente and Rodríguez. There is a band in Maui called Johnny Coco and his Royal Hawaiians. They are recording the music of the Big 3 with ukuleles, so I say: "Jump in, the water's fine."
JIC: What is the current state of play with the Big 3 Palladium Orchestra?
MG: We are doing great, with concerts in Belleayre, New York City, Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Knoxville, Pori in Finland, Rome and Milan, Italy, Vic-Fezensac in France and more on the list to come. The goal was to play "one gig for the history books." We have surpassed our goal by a country mile. Working alongside both Tito Rodriguez Jr. and Tito Puente Jr. and José Madera has been a truly fantastic voyage. We battle it out on stage, but then go out to dinner afterwards. Ina Dittke and Brian Theobald made all of it possible through their incredible belief in the project. They had faith in us and in the band, and without them, we would be nowhere.
JIC: Notwithstanding the Big 3 Palladium Orchestra, I sense that you are re-launching the Machito Orchestra. For instance you have a new website: machitoorchestranyc.com. Tell me more?
MG: I re-launch the Machito Orchestra every week. As Art Blakey used to say: "If you're not appearing, you're disappearing."
JIC: Are there any plans to record the Machito Orchestra?
MG: Yes, I will be going into the studio soon to record "new" material. One composition I wrote for my daughter, that is titled "Francesca Marie," will also serve as the CD title.
JIC: Now my usual closing questions. Please tell me what projects you have been working on recently and what you have in the pipeline?
MG: I am doing a lot of teaching and have written a drum book titled As Easy As Pie which is available through the Machito Orchestra website. I was blessed to have studied as a kid with Henry Adler, Ted Reed, Sam Ulano, Joel Rothman and many other fine drummers and authors. I hope to pass on what they gave me.
JIC: Is there anything else that you would like to add that we have not talked about?
MG: The mission statement is easy: "Play the music as honestly and as true to the tradition as possible, you get the horses and you let them run, but you keep your 'stick hand' ready at all times."
JIC: What title would you choose for this interview?
MG: The Machito Orchestra: Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow.
JIC: In the light of what your dad said about creating the band for perpetuity, maybe it should be: The Machito Orchestra: Yesterday, Today And Forever! Thank you for sparing the time to talk to me.
Check out these related pieces in The Descarga Journal Archives:
by John Child November 18, 1999
A discographic profile of the popular Cuban bandleader, singer and composer.
Interview: José Madera: "Who is that guy?"
by John Child September 23, 2004
Well, that guy of the title suggested by José Madera, was born in New York City September 30th, 1950 to José "Pin" Madera (1911-2001), who was the first arranger for the Machito orchestra. The multitalented José Madera started playing timbales with Machito as a teenager and went on to become Tito Puente's conguero for 30 years. He was also Tito's musical director for 14 years and became a staff arranger with Fania Records in the 1970s. Here José speaks with John Child about his remarkable career with New York's legendary Mambo Kings; his involvement in the salsa industry and his latest project, The Latin Giants Play The Music of the Palladium
© Descarga.com and John Child. John Child produces and selects the contents of the totallyradio show Aracataca. He is an editor and journalist for the Descarga.com Latin music website, and a contributor to the
MusicWeb Encyclopedia of Popular Music and Penguin and Guinness Encyclopedias of Popular Music, and has prepared compilations for the Union Square and Nascente labels.