Traditional profan feast, from bantú origin. .


It is on the way prepared by Antonio Arcaño y sus Maravillas that Arsenio Rodriguez puts his steps, when it integrates into the danzón (already in ritmo nuevo style) a new amount of elements come from the son montuno.

This new style is named diablo : boosted by the tumbadora, the piano syncopation, the trumpets playing jazz, while the Arsenio's tres underlines the rhythm and advances towards the mambo style.
Other musicians take the same path, like the pianists and arrangers Rene Hernández and Emilio " Bebo " Valdés which officiate in orchestras rather jazzy in clubs of Havana, Casino of Playa or Riverside.

All ingredients are gathered now. And the pianist and musical director Dámaso Pérez Prado is going to success in realizing the mambo, by liberating the final montuno of ritmo nuevo pieces until making it independent : the mambo is officially born. We are in 1951 in Mexico City, and Dámaso Pérez Prado has just recorded Rico mambo. " All is in syncopation ", explains Dámaso. "the saxophones accentuate it without respite, while the trumpets charge of the melody. The bass, in combination with tumbadoras and bongos, see to the rest. Here is the construction of mambo ".

Dámaso Pérez Prado will be crown " king of the mambo " ; he will release several recordings in Mexico for RCA-Victor : Mambo n°5, Mambo n°8, El Rutelero, Chula linda... in which the influence of the swing is particularly evident.

The mambo will share the stages with its easier brother the cha cha chá during al the 50ties, inspiring the greatest creators and interpreters : Bebo Valdés, Ernesto Duarte, Beni Moré, Woodland Méndez... It will generate variants, as the bolero-mambo, mixing a bolero theme with a slow mambo rythm (Julio Gutiérrez, Bobby Collazo, Humberto Jauma...). Its reign will end at the early 60ties, when the public will grow weary and will turn to other styles.


This fighting dance, close to a martial art, grew in 19th century among slaves of sugar plantations in Cuba.

Only the men take part in it : the dancer, in the circle, do movements simulating fight, and choose a protagonist among the others men of the circle. Then the elected "adversary" comes in the circle, and, in harmony with the other dancer, execute a choregraphy of movements, beetween fight and dance.


The origin of maracas is lost in the mists of time : are they an old and rare heritage from the Amerindians, before their extinction ? Did they come from Africa ? Are they born after the Spanish conquest, on the American lands ?

MaracasThese two little calabashes, with a handle, closed and filled with dried seeds, are shaken on rythm like a rattle, and generate a rythmic caracteristic rustle, soft and discreet but essential sound. Needing little strengh, they are generally confide to the singer or chorists, as their cousin , the guïro. Today, professional maracas are sometimes made of plastic, seriously challenging their calabash-ancestors ; in the Third World, children make another very effective model, with empty cans of soda or beer in which they put a handfull of sand.

The maracas are also used by another way : there are stars in touristic giftshops, and many of these instruments spend their live on shelves, covered in dust, without never produce a sound... what a sentence for an instrument to be reduce to silence !


Sort of drum.


The marimbula is a lamellophone instrument, and looks like a big African sanza ; it's maybe a descendant of the sanza.

Metal stripes are fixed on a big wood box : the musician vibrate the stripes with his fingers, and the sound is amplified by the box, which acts as resonator. The stripe lengh determine the height of the note. The musician sit on the box while he plays.

In the past, this rustic instrument was frequently used by son players, for want of double bass.


This term is sometimes used to designate a maraca.


Popular Cuban dance, today vanished.


Every Sunday at 9PM (Cuban time), tune your television on Tele Rebelde channel : it's time of Mi Salsa, and it's better than the novela !


Part of a musical piece, in which musicians are free to improvise.


Dance mixing conga and others African influences.


Dance practised in Cuba in the 18th century.

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