(AP) Cuban-born jazz manager buried in Miami; he was 95Wall Street JournalAssociated Press. MIAMI — A Cuban-born jazz pianist and manager who helped popularize the cha-cha in the U.S. has been buried in Miami.
(http://latinjazzalive.org) In 1959, the "business as usual" attitude of New York City's Latin music world changed when bandleader José Curbelo disbanded and founded the Alpha Artists, a booking agency of Latin music aggregations. What happened the following twenty years is commendable or despicable depending on who you speak to.
Prior to 1959, every Latin band had a manager -- a band representative who would negotiate with club owners the amount of money the group would earn for an evening. The bands were at the mercy of ballroom proprietors, consequently, if a band wanted a gig, it would have to agree to the less-than-musician's-union-scale demanded, or not work at all.
In 1958, pianist/bandleader Charlie Palmieri directed a quintet which featured Johnny Pacheco on flute at the International Casino. The quintet was performing five hours a night for $180. When Curbelo offered Palmieri $200 for two hours work, Palmieri became the first of many Latin music artists to signa three year contract with Alpha Artists. Shortly thereafter, every music group of importance, including Tito Puente, Machito, Tito Rodríguez, La Playa Sextet, Pete Terrace, Orlando Marin, Ray Barretto, Noro Morales, Vicentico Valdés and Orquesta Broadway, had Curbelo representing them. The status quo of club owners of "take it or leave it" soon ended. They either agreed to Curbelo's demands or they wouldn't have any of the prominent bands. With Curbelo's help, musicians were now earning more money for one evening than ever before.