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Perez Prado

“The Mambo King”

The word mambo comes from the nañigo dialect spoken in Cuba. It probably has no real meaning, but occurs in the phrase “abrecuto y guiri mambo” (”open your eyes and listen”) used to open Cuban song contests. In the Bantu language of West Africa, mambo means “conversation with the gods” and in nearby Haiti, a Mambo is a voodoo priestess.

The mambo as we know it today is actually a rhythm whose tempo may be slow or fast, and almost any standard tune can be set to its tempo. The saxophone usually sets the rhythm pattern and the brass carries the melody.

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