Tino Contreras

Mexican jazz legend with over 60 years of experience and 40 albums. Fortino Contreras González was a drummer, composer, bandleader and nightclub owner. He was born in Ciudad Juarez (Chihuahua), Mexico, on April 3, 1924. At the tender age 15 Contreras founded his first band, Cadetes del Swing. He made his professional debut in the early 1950s with Luis Alcaraz’s Latin swing orchestra. He also performed with Juan Garcia Esquivel, a fellow Mexican jazz legend. He was a leader in 1954’s first jazz recordings from Mexico. These recordings were recorded on the Jazz en Mexico compilation. His debut, however, was 1953’s Volado por los Merengues, which was musically inspired from a trip to Dominican Republic. It was obvious that Contreras wasn’t going to be a straight-ahead musician. Contreras founded his Quartet in 1957, which would continue to tour and record until today. As Contreras sought to blend jazz with Latin musical forms including Mesoamerican religious choir chants and instrumentation as well as lounge, waltz and psychedelia from all corners of the globe, Contreras’ global travels were reflected in his subsequent releases. Jazz Tropical (1962), Jazz Ballet ( 1963), and Misa en Jazz ( 1966) are key albums. The U.K label Jazzman’s El Jazz Mexicano de Tino Contreras (2011) compilation featured highlights from Contreras’ diverse and difficult-to-source catalogue. Contreras was a champion for Mexican jazz, despite his extravagant and imaginative experimentation. Between 1959 and 1966, he won the National Festival of Jazz award. He also taught and ran clubs in Mexico. Contreras, now in his nineties is still playing, recording, and receiving recognition for his contributions to Mexican jazz and beyond. Allmusic

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