The Mambo is native to the island of Cuba. Its closest relative is the danzón, itself derived from the charanga or the tumba francesa which was introduced to Cuba by Haitians fleeing the revolution (we agree that this musical genre became danzón in the 1920s) .
In 1938, Orestes Lopez composed a danzón entitled Mambo which ended with an improvisation on a fast rhythm (musical section hitherto unknown in the danzón). Arcaño (leader of the group of which Orestes Lopez was a member) also changed somewhat the usual instrumental composition of groups playing the danzón (for the most part, it replaced the usual bass with a sound bass), thus creating what should quickly be known under the name danzón-mambo.
Mambo then referred to the quick section at the end of the piece, while danzón referred to the two traditional sections of music of the same name. Mambo was to be born as a musical genre in its own right, when songs playing only the final section were recorded. Finally let us specify that this music, as we know it today, is the fruit of many refinements which took place in particular in North America, to which we owe the introduction of instruments from jazz.
In 1937, Orestes López, Cuban cello player from the danzón ensemble “Antonio Arcaño y sus Maravillas” with his little brother Israel “Cachao” on bass, composed a piece called Mambo from the Nuevo ritmo du danzón.
Influenced by the jazz of Stan Kenton and Dizzy Gillespie, the López brothers will transform their "conjunto" into an orchestra incorporating 4 saxophones, 4 trumpets, piano, bass, maracas, congas, timpani. Dámaso Pérez Prado, pianist of the Orquesta Casíno de la Playa is then thrilled by this rhythm but, not meeting with success in Cuba, he leaves for Mexico where he meets Benny Moré, nicknamed "el rey del mambo" (the king of the mambo), as well as Carlos Colorado, the founder of the Sonora Santanera group.
Dance of Cuban origin and close to salsa, the mambo is particularly appreciated on the American continent.
The partners are in the closed position (Latin type). Some mambo dancers enclose the size of their partner in their right arm and therefore place their right hand on the dancer's left hip: the two partners are then glued to each other.
The mambo is danced to a 4/4 musical rhythm. A basic step is made over 8 beats, corresponding to 12 movements. 1 and 2, 3 and 4, 5 and 6, 7 and 8. There is a small stop in the movements on the even accounts.
The dancers face each other because their basic steps are mirrored to each other.
Mambo and samba were introduced for the first time in Europe by José Gandimbas and his orchestra "Jo and the Latin boys" to the "ambassadors" of Paris in 1945 with "Che mambo che". In 1947, Jose Gandimbas also introduced the Bolero Mambo to Deauville, France, in Europe.
Tn 1954, the Mambo enjoyed great popularity in the United States thanks to the successes of Perry Como (Papa Loves Mambo) and Rosemary Clooney (Mambo Italiano).