Enrique Jorrín Orchestra

Danzones went and came through his mind when in the half of the 40 decade, he introduced in these songs, a final part sung. That was the limit, the dancers not only beat the rhythm at the same of the music, even also sang together with band choir, made by the same instrumentalists (a novelty introduced by Jorrin). Those catchy choruses step by step passed to the slang, a new rhythm was developing. The 40s and also the preceding decade, the 50s, were prolific in the creation of new dances and in the crystallization of tendencies that people already identified. You can tell that mambo and the cha-cha almost arose at the same time.

The architect of these wonders, the man who knew to pick up scattered elements and give them coherence was named Enrique Jorrin. He was born in the western province of Pinar del Rio and since he opened his eyes in 1926 didn’t conceive another thing than playing and composing music with his inseparable violin. However his first instrument was a dilapidated piano that belonged to his sister. He used to forget the school lessons; he got some scolds from his parents for being devoted to the self-study of the theory of music. This early knowledge was the one that permitted with only 12 years old to compose his first song, the danzon Osiris.


The young Jorrin’s embarrassment

Jorrin said no to his parents’ wish to study medicine. He longed to be a professional musician so much that he dropped out school in the last year of high school to get into music. Some bands already played songs of his and decided for these hits, he replaced his brother Miguel, also a musician, more experienced though, on a radio program from the Aliados Bus Company, located on Belascoain and San Jose. The young man Enrique knew plenty that his family was hooked on the huge radio devices from that time to listen to him in his debut, but unfortunately he got disappointed, nerves prevented him from playing not even the half of the notes assigned in the score. He returned home inconsolable, although the encouraging words of relatives and friends were really useful. Enrique Jorrin never forgot this passage of his professional life and every time he saw young people to make their début that reminded him of his disaster. Of course this incident didn’t daunt him, as his posterior career proved it.


The Cha-Cha, different and common

Enrique Jorrín playing violin
Jorrín and his best companion; violin

Unlike the mambo, that required experienced and skillful dancers, the cha-cha steps were soft; the rhythm takes the name of the sound from the dancers’ feet when they beat the rhythm. Among the amount of innovations done by Jorrin, besides the already mentioned to make choirs with the own band members, the introduction of the amp sound was in the work of the bands that performed dancing music. Before in the great dancing salons, only two or three microphones were set, dedicated generally to the singer, the bass, the piano or the kettledrum, but there were so many “mute” instruments, above all the string instruments. Jorrin amplified the sound of the violins giving a distinctive label to the “charanguera” bands of that time.

The effervescence of the cha-cha was on its top when in 1953 the Jorrin band made seven songs a hit: La engañadora, Nada para ti, Osiris (at the beginning a danzon rhythm and afterwards it became into cha-cha), El alardoso, Me muero and Miñoso al bate. The success was so enormous that on the bar vitrolas, the vinyl records were worn out and they were changed every week. You can move the dial of the radio through the 36 radio stations existing at that time and La engañadora song was being played indeed. The fever was extended to other composers from the time, who began to do cha-cha of a lot success, like Rosendo Ruiz (junior) with Rico vacilon and Los marcianos, Richard Egües with El Bodeguero, a Nat King Cole’s hit and Miguel Jorrin with No te bañes en el Malecon.


Jorrin: a common man

A few artists have enjoyed in life the devotion of their work, one of them was definitely Enrique Jorrin. Death took him with all his full possession of his faculties (in 1987 and hardly at the age of 60), with projects half made and the dream of future tours, recording contracts and a promised documentary about the history of his life and musical work, that unfortunately was never carried on.

When he was questioned if having arrived to the top of his artistic career made him satisfied, the composer of more than 500 songs, used to say that no one ever reached the full satisfaction, there was always something to be done. However, he was so proud to be in the musical history of a country like Cuba and the world knew that the international famous cha-cha had been created by a common citizen who walked around the Havana streets.


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