The Big 3 Palladium Orchestra performing “Avisale a mi Contrario” led by Tito Rodriguez Jr. (Sammy Gonzalez, vocals; Jimmy Bosch, trombone)
No place impacted the development and popularity of Latin music in the United States more than the Palladium Ballroom, the fabled Home of the Mambo. Located at the northeast corner of Broadway and 53rd Street, it started as a dance studio in 1946, and the following year, it added a live show on Sundays. The response was such that soon after, the Palladium was hosting live Latin music Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights.
As the rumba craze took over the country in 1948 and through the 1950s, the undisputed kings of the Palladium – and mambo, cha-cha-cha, and the world of Latin music bubbling up to the surface in American culture – were Machito and his Afro-Cubans, the Tito Puente Orchestra and Tito Rodriguez.
They were The Big 3 and not only set the bar by which Latin orchestras have been judged since, but their innovations changed the sound and accents of American music.
The 2023 South Beach Jazz Festival (Jan. 5 through Jan. 8 ) promises a compelling sampler of styles and talent, from established veterans to future stars. But a particularly intriguing highlight is the Big 3 Palladium Orchestra conjuring the sound of the Palladium Ballroom in New York City. The orchestra, led by three musicians with famous fathers and artists in their own right, Mario Grillo, the son of the great sonero Francisco “Machito” Grillo, Tito Puente Jr., and Tito Rodriguez Jr., performs Mambo Night in Miami Beach at 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 7 at the Miami Beach Bandshell (7275 Collins Ave., Miami Beach).