Mambo music is Cuban in origin. Developing a forma nd style it soon became internationally renowned. The word mambo means to converse with the gods in Kikongo, which is the language spoken by Central African slaves in Cuba.
Modern mambo music began with a song danzón called "Mambo" written in 1938 by Orestes and Cachao López. The song descended from European social dances like the English country dance, French contredanse and Spanish contradanza But the rhythms were primarily derived from African folk music, as is evident from the mambo music samples.
The first of the mambo music samples to be actually recorded was by bassist and composer Cachao López and was called "Rarezas". He is often described as "the inventor of mambo music." Perez Prado moved to Mexico City to start his own band, where he composed and recorded most of mambo music. His music was inspired by the life style of Mexico City. Dengue Universitario, Mambo Universitario, Guada Guadalupe, Lupita and Norma la de Guadalajara are some well known mambo music samples of his.
By the 50’s, mambo music and dance was already making waves in New York. It was common to see recording companies using Mambo to label their records and advertise mambo music and dance lessons. Mambo had become a transnational popular cultural phenomenon by then, reaching a fever pitch in the mid fifties. Some of the city's best dancers, "Killer Joe Piro, Augie and Margo Rodriguez, Paulito and Lilon, Louie Maquina and Pedro Cuban Pete were giving mambo demonstrations, displaying their expressive use of arms, legs, head and hands.
Cha-cha-chá, a style of mambo music and dance swept through Havana during those times. Created by the Cuban violinist Enrique Jorrín, it was easier to dance than the mambo, and soon spread to Europe. Salsa mambo music makes us realize how significantly mambo music has influenced the style of dancing. With different instrumentation of the Mambo music, Salsa dancers are not dancing the innovative style of the Mambo of the 1950's. as times change, the styles of dancing also change.