Known as the “Latin Duke Ellington” and the “Dean of Latin Jazz”, Noro Morales was a Puerto Rico-born multi-instrumentalist and composer. A master on piano, his sound encompassed Puerto Rico’s flavour with New York City influences. He rose to fame in the early 1940’s as one of Latin jazz’s pioneers and remained popular in the New York scene for roughly nearly 20 years.
Initially, he was trained as a trombonist, but is remembered as an exceptional pianist and bandleader. His sound often catered to popular tastes, but this was not something that that orientated his sound, for he always stayed true to his Latin roots. He never deviated from this and his all of his music utilised a traditional line-up featuring a rhythm section that included bass, bongos, conga, timbales, and claves, with himself on piano.
Serenata Ritmica was released on Decca Records in 1942 (or 1945 as some sources suggest) and appeared as the b-side to Rumbambola. The single catapulted Noro to fame in the mambo and rumba music world, leading to performances in major nightclubs in Manhattan such as The Stork Club, El Morocco, La Conga, The China Doll, the Palladium and the Copacabana among others. I love the how strong rhythm section bubbles away in the background, working its percussive alchemy as the piano-led melody entwines its sinuous shape into the spell.. Check it out above.