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Morales, Noro

Born on 4 January, 1911 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, pianist, composer and music director, Noro Osvaldo Morales was one of the most prominent figures of mambo and rumba music from the 1930’s until his death in 1964.

His his father, Luis and his sister, Marina were his first music teachers. Morales learned trombone, bass and piano. They helped prepare him for his professional career as a musician in the Orquesta Hermanos Morales, directed by his father. He later played with an band in Venezuela in 1924 but returned to Puerto Rico six years later and joined the orchestra of the famous Rafaél Muñoz.

Morales moved to New York City in 1935 were gained fame with top Latin bands in the city. He then formed his own band called the Hermanos Morales Orchestra in 1937, which was later called Noro Morales And His Orchestra. Morales played the piano and the band included the typical Latin rhythm section with bass, bongos, conga, timbales, and claves.

He returned to Puero Rico in 1961 to work at the Hotel la played in noted nightclubs such as the Palladium, The Stork Club, Copacabana and La Conga. But he also played more humble venues in the Hispanic “barrio”, earning him the title of “King of Latin Music.” During this time he appeared with such famous artists as Tito Rodríguez, José Luis Moneró, Chino Pozo, Willie Rosario and Tito Puente.

Yearning to return home, as many of his compatriots did, and suffering from glaucoma due to diabetes, Morales moved back to Puerto Rico in 1960. He organized his own band with the best musicians available and spent the next four years with playing at La Concha Hotel in San Juan. Among the musicians in his band were Ray Santos, Jorge López, Rafí Carrero, Juancito Torres, Pin Madera, Ralph Kemp, Pepito Morales, Carlos Medina, Lidio Fuentes, Simón Madera, Ana Carrero, and Vitín Avilés.

Morales made numerous recording over the course of his prolific career and was well known for his interpretations of “classic” songs such as “Perfume de Gardenia”, (lyrics) “Silencio”, (lyrics)’, Walter Winchell Rumba “Arráncame la Vida”, “Malditos Celos” and “Tres Palabras”.

A fitting tribute to Morales was the 1984 album “A Giant Step” by Charlie Palmieri which included the song “Rumba Rhapsody” with piano and rhythm inspired by Morales.

The artist died in San Juan in 1964.

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