Artist Essentials

Markolino Dimond

Markolino Dimond Essentials cover image

When you first listen to the 1971 Fania release titled Brujeria you are treated to extraordinary musical arrangements and keyboard mastery superbly performed by Mark (Markolino) Dimond, a young man who grew up on Manhattan’s Lower East Side with a single mother and sister. His father, who was from Cuba, left the family when Mark was just a child. So, he learned his trade, on his own, while growing up in a challenging environment. You will also be treated to a fine performance by well-known vocalist Angel Canales, in his first recording. But it’s not until you hear Mark’s outstanding piano solos on “El Barrio” and “Aguardiente” that you can appreciate the talents of this, then, blossoming star.

As you listen to additional tracks on this album, you’ll begin to appreciate the swing that his band gets into under Mark’s direction. With the backing of an excellent horn section that includes Juan Torres and Richie Montanez on trombone; Danny Reyes on trumpet; and a fine ensemble of percussionists like Louis Rivera on bongos and Antonio Tapia on congas, the band takes us on a trip of enjoyable, danceable music. With Andy Gonzalez on stand-up bass, Eddie (Gua Gua) Rivera on electric bass, you are treated to a band that truly plays with a New York / 1960’s-era foundation. Besides the typically outstanding job done by Canales on vocals, he is backed by an excellent coro that includes Ismael Quintana, Hector Lavoe and Justo Betancourt.

In the mid-60s, Dimond joined Willie Colon’s band and appeared on the albums, The Hustler (1968) and Guisando (1969). He played on Willie Colon’s first album, El Malo in 1968, but he was kid who struggled with a drug addiction. Fania artist, Larry Harlow has said, “His piano playing is a cross between typical Cuban and Progressive jazz.” In 1974, Mark was invited to record on Hector Lavoe’s debut album titled La Voz (released in 1975) as a soloist. On the tune, “Rompe Saraguey, Dimond performs one of his most popular solos. Also, in 1974 he participated in Ismael Quintana’s first album as a soloist. In 1975, Mark produced his second solo LP, Beethoven’s V, with Frankie Dante. But he was never given the opportunity to head another session. Sadly, Markolino Dimond reportedly succumbed to his addiction and died of cerebral syphilis in 1986 at the young age of 36.

—Bobby Marin