Beny Moré / Aug 24, 1919 - Feb 19, 1963

Happy birthday to the beloved Cuban singer/bandleader/composer Beny Moré! In 1942 he joined Trío Matamoros and went to Mexico with them in '45. Moré stayed in Mexico, joining the band of Perez Prado and cutting a couple dozen records with them, as well as with other orchestras.

After touring Latin America, he returned to Cuba in '52 where he was still, at that time, an unknown. He started working in Havana with Bebo Valdés and cut a record with Orquesta Aragón before forming his sixteen-piece orchestra La Banda Gigante, becoming one of the most popular bands on the island and touring South America, the Caribbean, Mexico and the US. When many of the island's best musicians defected to the US for increased exposure, Moré stayed loyal after the Revolution. Unfortunately, rum did him in as he died of liver damage at just 43.

His career covered mambo, rhumba, son, cha cha, guajira, bolero, guaracha and more, and he is known as someone who paid his musicians fairly. He is an icon in Cuba, with a statue of him outside the famous Coppelia ice cream parlor in Cienfuegos. When I got off the plane at José Martí airport I was treated to a loop of "Babarabatiri"...which became torture after a five hour wait through the line and hearing it over and over and over again...

Tagged: Beny Moré, Celebrate Icons, jazz, son

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