Jazz Biography: Perez Prado

May 15, 2018

We previously mentioned the great Latin and Latin jazz musician Perez Prado in relation to his work with Rosemary Clooney on the album "Touch of Tabasco". Now we will write our second jazz biography, this time on the life and recordings of Perez Prado. 


Prado, like many bandleaders in Latin music, was Cuban-born. By the mid-1940s, as he approached the age of thirty, Prado had become one of Cuba's top arrangers. But Prado's period of fame was definitely still to come. 


It was around the year 1950 that Prado's career went from good to great: at some point in either 1949 or 1950, Prado recorded the lively "Mambo Jambo". This tune had a rousing arrangement with a mixture of big band sections and vocal sections that led Perez Prado to great popularity when his version of "Mambo Jambo" reached the United States.



Perez Prado's original "Mambo Jambo" recording. Please go to the YouTube video itself for more information about the recording.











Once "Mambo Jambo" became famous, Prado decided to go to the United States and perform. These American performances were so successful that Perez Prado used the United States as his main recording location for several years.


Then, in the mid-1950s, Perez Prado commanded the popular music scene when he recorded the Louis Guglielmi composition "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White", a recording that spent not only a few weeks, but more than two whole months at the top of the pop charts. On the "Cherry Pink" recording, the trumpeter plays the melody warmly with beautiful backing from the other musicians and with drum breaks that enable the trumpeter to accentuate certain parts of the tune. The whole recording is a mixture of unusual instrumental sounds that make the melody sound like a genuine Cuban creation. Every aspect of this recording is not only driving, but much of this recording is also beautiful.


​​Perez Prado's original "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White" recording. Please go to the YouTube video itself for more information about the recording.







Perez Prado released his last major hit in 1958, a Prado composition called "Patricia". Although Prado's band plays well in this recording, the recording does not compare with "Cherry Pink", and by the time of the recording, Prado was trying to make the tune fitted with the latest rock-and-roll trends.


​​Perez Prado's original "Patricia" recording. Please go to the YouTube video itself for more information about the recording.








Prado, although no longer producing hit recordings in the United States, continued to do well in the Mexican music scene. He stopped recording in 1987 and died in 1989, having been one of the greatest Latin musicians of all-time.



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