Pérez Prado (King of Mambo) through Film


Here is a recent article—“Pérez Prado en el Cine (Centenario del Rey del Mambo)”—honoring Cuban musician Dámaso Pérez Prado, who was born on December 11, 1917, and was known as the king of the mambo. This article from Cuba Now underlines how this important cultural figure filled a chapter in the history of Mexican cinema:

[. . .] The Matanzas musician visited Mexico in November 1948 where he was received by his friend and fellow singer Cecilio Francisco Mendive Pereira (Kiko Mendive). Kiko immediately took Dámaso to the Macao Club and, because he sang for the club’s orchestra, he invited him to deliver a cameo performance [echarse un “palomazo”], that is, to play a piece called “El manisero,” in which he improvised a tasty montuno that amazed the audience.

On February 7, 1949, with the help of dancer Ninón Sevilla, he entered the forums of the Azteca Cinematographic Studios where he participated—along with Agustín Lara and singer Bienvenido Granda—with the group La Sonora Matancera in the filming of the film Coqueta, by director Fernando A. Rivero. The film premiered on July 22 of that year at the Orfeón Theater.

For the premiere, Pérez Prado recorded his first two hits [virtual cannon shots] that started the mambo explosion: “Mambo no. 5” and “Qué rico mambo.”

In October 1950, Pérez Prado performed live with his orchestra at the Acapulco Theater. At that time, his popularity quickly grew.

On February 2, 1951, Damaso reappears in another film: Víctimas del pecado, shown in the Orfeón Theater. His orchestra accompanied singer Aurelio Yeyo Estrada.

On April 24, 1950, the shooting of the film Al son del mambo begins, which featured development of the contagious mambo rhythm. In the film, Rita Montaner and Amalia Aguilar dance. The myth of mambomania is already beginning.

It is important to note that, out of the 123 films made in 1950, there are 50 that allude to the mambo. In 1951, out of 101 films screened, more than 20% incorporate mambos.

In the film Dancing [Salón de baile] in May 1951, Pérez Prado appears, performing several mambos with his orchestra.

In that same year, he also has a role in the film Del can-can al mambo [From Can-can to Mambo] in which Rosita Fornés and Pedro Vargas also appear.

Among the many compositions heard in the films in which Pérez Prado participated, we can mention “Mambo en sax,” “El ruletero,” “El Politécnico,” “Mambo no. 5,” and “Qué rico mambo.”

Pérez Prado’s mambos flooded the cinema, Mexican life, and the sound atmosphere of, practically, the whole world. Today, in tribute to the centenary of the Cuban genius, we dedicate this heartfelt chronicle.

[Translated by Ivette Romero.] For original article, see http://www.cubanow.cult.cu/?p=973

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