Ocho - Ocho album cover

“It was about 50 years ago when radio personality/bandleader Chico Alvarez, whom I had recently hired as art director, suggested I listen to Chico Mendoza and his band. I was the A&R director of United Artists Latino at the time so I set up an audition to check them out. And boy was I impressed.

Chico’s band featured 8 talented African-American musicians who played like Latinos. But the Latin sounds they created were nothing less than novel and refreshing; led by gifted composer, arranger, pianist, vibraharpist, Chico Mendoza.

I immediately signed them up and changed their name to OCHO. I told Chico we needed vocalists and I would provide them. I called in Manny Roman, Jimmy Sabater, Willie Torres, and Ismael Quintana to be part of the mix. We were obligated to record only songs from a particular publishing company but that didn’t slow Chico down. He gave us a variety of sounds that kept the listener intrigued, excited and eager to dance. Many fans have felt that Ocho was ahead of its time. Maybe so. The younger set wasn’t hip to the concept  but these youngsters are a lot older now, and certainly can relate to the magical Latin sounds of OCHO.”

—Written by Bobby Marin