Orquesta Casino de la Playa
Orquesta Casino de la Playa, founded in 1937 in Havana, Cuba, was a band that took its name from the name of the casino where they worked. This orchestra made a bridge between Cuban popular music and the sound of American Jazz Big Bands. The band was also a platform for the birth of so many important musicians in Cuban music.
In the middle of 1937, the RCA Victor made a variety of recordings in Havana with more than 20 groups with different formats. The Orquesta Casino de la Playa recorded six numbers, and among this songs they performed a version of the classic Arsenio Rodríguez´s Bruca Maniguá. With this recordings, they began their growth in and outside of Cuba. Between 1937 and 1939, the band recorded over 60 songs and made several tours all along América.
In 1941, the director of the orchestra Anselmo Sacasas and the singer Miguelito Valdés abandoned the band and travel to the United States to develop their own projects. Sacasas was susbtituted by Julio Gutiérrez.
The Casino de la Playa used several singers until 1945, when the popular Cascarita joined the band. Further, Dámaso Pérez Prado played piano and arranged for the band for a short time until he left Cuba and settled in México, where he developed his own vision of mambo.
The Casino de la Playa orchestra can be considered as one of the first Cuban jazz bands. This kind of band played a repertoire of Cuban songs with the characteristic sound of an American jazz band but, in the case of Cuban groups, it was especially important the presence of high quality singers, as well as some of the biggest musicians in Cuban popular music history.
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