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Orquesta Havana Riverside (as it was originally known at its founding in 1938) was a collectively run orchestra and arguably Cuba’s most important and popular “jazz band” (big band) during the 1940s and ‘50s. The height of that popularity was during the 1950s under saxophonist Pedro Vila’s directorship, featuring one of Cuba’s most beloved (and versatile) vocalists, Tito Gómez. Many other important singers and musicians passed through the ranks of Riverside over the years, including Miguelito Valdés, Pedro “Peruchín” Jústiz and several stars of Buena Vista Social Club fame including Orlando “Cachaito” López and Rubén González. Though Vila retired in 1960, the orchestra carried on for two decades in Cuba after the Revolution but with different musicians and an updated sound. 

-Pablo Yglesias

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