Orlando Marin

Q & A

Playing Until He Can’t Play Anymore: The Last Mambo King Orlando Marin

By Cyndi Amaya | June 14, 2012

Marcus and Orlando at Ginny's

I didn’t think this would happen but when I saw him right in front of me, I was a bit shell-shocked. The Last Mambo King, Orlando Marin, was standing in front of me at Ginny’s Supper Club in a traditional white guayabera and I was honestly star struck. Here was one of the founding fathers of the music we know today as Salsa, and I being born in Colombia, learned how to dance to Salsa as soon as I learned how to walk. So it was only natural to be in awe of one of the greats.

As I sat down and spoke with Mr. Marin, I was astounded at how personable he was; it was like I was sitting down for a chat with my grandfather. And just like a grandfather he began to recount his amazing stories of how music was back in the day, when Mambo first came about, how he started his first orchestras and how he was drafted to the Army during the Korean War. I sat and listened intently, watching his hands move around while he spoke with enthusiasm, and even gasped when I heard the big names of band leaders and artists he played with that are idolized in my culture. Names like Tito Puentes, Tito Rodriguez, and Eddie Palmieri are as familiar to him as “Mom” and “Dad” are to us.

So as the story goes, Orlando Marin grew up singing and dancing. Read More

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