Orquesta Aragón

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Orquesta Aragón is a Cuban musical band formed on 30 September 1939, by Orestes Aragón Cantero in Cienfuegos, Cuba. Orquesta Aragón_sentence_0

The band originally had the name Ritmica 39, then Ritmica Aragón before settling on its final form. Orquesta Aragón_sentence_1

Though they did not create the Cha-cha-cha, they were arguably the best charanga in Cuba during the 1950s and 1960s. Orquesta Aragón_sentence_2

Their trade-marks included high-class instrumentalists playing in tight ensemble style, and rhythmical innovations which kept their sound up to date. Orquesta Aragón_sentence_3

Over the years they progressed from their start as a danzoneria to play a wider variety of styles, danzón, then cha-cha-cha, then onda-cha, pachanga and son fusions. Orquesta Aragón_sentence_4

They still perform today, based in Havana. Orquesta Aragón_sentence_5

History Orquesta Aragón_section_0

Originally there were eight musicians: Orestes Aragon (double bass); Filiberto Depestre (first violin); Hilario René González (second violin); Rufino Roque (piano); Efraín Loyola (flute); Orestes Varona (timbales); Noelio Morejon (güiro); & Pablo Romay (vocals). Orquesta Aragón_sentence_6

With the illness of Aragón in 1949, Rafael Lay Apesteguía became leader, and the band entered its second phase. Orquesta Aragón_sentence_7

In 1950 the orchestra made its first journey to Havana, and in 1953 Lay changed the personnel to suit his own ideas. Orquesta Aragón_sentence_8

It was around this time that the danzón began to fade, and the cha-cha-cha to gain popularity. Orquesta Aragón_sentence_9

Flautist was now Rolando Lozano and, later, Richard Egües. Orquesta Aragón_sentence_10

Pepe Olmo began singing along with the director Rafael Lay. Orquesta Aragón_sentence_11

Pepe Palma was also to join the orquesta and be its Piano Player for decades onwards. Orquesta Aragón_sentence_12

The emergence of Richard Egües on the 5-key wooden flute was significant. Orquesta Aragón_sentence_13

Egües replaced Rolando Lozano at the beginning of 1955 when Lozano went to Mexico. Orquesta Aragón_sentence_14

In August 1955, Celso Valdés was added on violin and thus the first classic lineup of the Orquesta Aragon was in place. Orquesta Aragón_sentence_15

The line up at this time was Pepe Olmo and Rafael Lay (vocals), Lay, Filiberto Depestre and Celso Valdés (violins), Pepe Palma (piano), Jose Beltran (d. bass), Panchito Arbolaez (güiro), Orestes Varona (timbales) and Guido Sarria (conga). Orquesta Aragón_sentence_16

Both Lay and Egües were skilled arrangers and composers. Orquesta Aragón_sentence_17

Between 1955 and 1958 the Orquesta Aragon released four LPs for RCA, listed below. Orquesta Aragón_sentence_18

During this time the Orquesta Aragon recorded nearly one hundred numbers for RCA, several of which have never been released. Orquesta Aragón_sentence_19

These include Macuto, Por esta adoracion, El trago, Gallo y gallina and Cha Cha Cha navideño among others. Orquesta Aragón_sentence_20

During 1958 and 1959 there was one change and one addition to the Orquesta Aragon: Pedro Depestre replaced his father, Filiberto, on violin and in January 1959 Rafael Bacallao was added as a singer. Orquesta Aragón_sentence_21

Now the Aragon had three voices, and a unique sound. Orquesta Aragón_sentence_22

Bacallao also was a dancer and his dances during their shows always garnered attention and public acclaim. Orquesta Aragón_sentence_23

Also in 1959 the Orquesta Aragon issued the first of eight LPs with their new line up on the Discuba label (RCA Victor subsidiary). Orquesta Aragón_sentence_24

Alejandro Tómas Valdés was a cellist who joined the band in the 1960s and was also a great dancer of his own right with him creating the onda-cha as a dance which included Brazil’s capoeira, when the music that he also created was to feature heavy afro percussion with the traditional sounds of cha-cha-cha. Orquesta Aragón_sentence_25

In 1982 Richard Egües became leader on the death of Rafael Lay Apesteguía until 1984, when Rafael Lay Bravo took over. Orquesta Aragón_sentence_26

Under the younger Lay the Orquesta has established itself as a true institution of inspiration for other Orquestas in dealing with Cuban and Afro-Cuban musical styles. Orquesta Aragón_sentence_27

During the revolutionary period, Aragón has travelled to give performances in over thirty countries. Orquesta Aragón_sentence_28

Discography Orquesta Aragón_section_1

Orquesta Aragón_unordered_list_0

  • Danzones de Ayer y de Hoy Discuba DCD 515Orquesta Aragón_item_0_0
  • Me Voy para la Luna Discuba DCD 520Orquesta Aragón_item_0_1
  • Danzones de Ayer y de Hoy Vol 2 Discuba DCD 532Orquesta Aragón_item_0_2
  • 1955: Cha Cha Cha RCA LP 1130Orquesta Aragón_item_0_3
  • 1956: That Cuban Cha Cha Cha RCA LP 1294Orquesta Aragón_item_0_4
  • 1957: The Heart of Havana RCA LP 1468Orquesta Aragón_item_0_5
  • Cojale el Gusto a Cuba. Discuba DCD 502Orquesta Aragón_item_0_6
  • Charangas y Pachangas Discuba DCD 555Orquesta Aragón_item_0_7
  • Ja Ja Ja Pacha Discuba DCD 557Orquesta Aragón_item_0_8
  • 1957: Maracas, bongo y congas RCA LP 1609Orquesta Aragón_item_0_9
  • Ultimos exitos de la Orquesta Aragón Discuba DCD 565Orquesta Aragón_item_0_10
  • Mosaicos tropicales Discuba DCD 576Orquesta Aragón_item_0_11
  • 1978: Ritmo Cha-onda (Barbaro)Orquesta Aragón_item_0_12
  • 1992: La Cubanisima Orquesta Aragon (Egrem)Orquesta Aragón_item_0_13
  • 1997: Quien sabe, sabe (Egrem)Orquesta Aragón_item_0_14
  • 1999: La Charanga Eterna (Egrem)Orquesta Aragón_item_0_15
  • 2001: En Route (Egrem)Orquesta Aragón_item_0_16
  • 2002: Por Siempre Aragon (Egrem)Orquesta Aragón_item_0_17
  • 2009: The Lusafrica Years LusafricaOrquesta Aragón_item_0_18


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orquesta Aragón.