Then professionally with Tito Allen and Gunda Merced (Salsa Fever).
In 1977 he started with his father at the Caribe Hilton Hotel accompanying local and international figures.
In 1979 with Willie Rosario with whom he recorded 3 albums. He directed the album Nuevo Horizontes which featured Gilberto Santa Rosa and Tony Vega.
In 1984 he started with Mario Ortiz y Su Orquesta with whom he recorded six albums.
Mario Ortiz Jr. studied at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music.
From 1991 – 1994 he traveled extensively with Juan Luis Guerra.
Mario Jr. has participated in recordings for Gilberto Santa Rosa, Tony Vega, Oscar de Leon, Ismael Miranda, Cheo Feliciano, Tommy Olivencia, Andy Montañez, and Willie Chirino among others. He has accompanied artists such as Juan Gabriel, Raphael, Donna Summers, Gloria Estefan, Rocio Durcal, Julio Iglesias, José Luis Rodríguez, Frank Valli, Vic Damone, among other international artists.
His albums 45 Aniversario (2010), 50 Aniversario (2014), and 55 Aniversario (2019) have been nominated for a Latin Grammy. For the past 23 years, he has worked in the public school system as a music teacher in Miami, Florida.
The late musician Mario Ortiz opened the doors of the artistic world to figures such as salsa singer Gilberto Santa Rosa. His contributions as musical director, instrumentalist, and arranger marked the careers of many artists, who did not hesitate to donate their talent for the making of the album Mario Ortiz All-Star Band, as a tribute to his 45 years of career.
Mario Ortiz, the son, summoned musicians and singers who shared with his father at a time when salsa was at its peak in the 1960s and 1970s.
The musician also managed to bring together Cheo Feliciano, Tony Vega, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Ismael Miranda, Richie Ray, Bobby Cruz, Roberto Roena, Andy Montañez, Elías Lopés and others in this record production.
“We recorded a tribute album, based on my father’s 1963 orchestra. Everyone told me that this group was ahead of its time. Some time ago, Gilberto gave me the LP On the Road (the orchestra’s first album), and that inspired me to make the record.
The first person I called was Elías Lopés and he told me to call everybody and that I would be surprised. And so it was because everyone was willing”, explained Mario Ortiz, son, in a press conference, attended by about twenty artists who recalled the times of the 60s and 70s.
The creator of the project said that the album contains 16 songs and an introduction featuring the original music of the All-Star Band, which became the first Puerto Rican orchestra to play at the Palladium in New York, where figures such as Tito Puente, Tito Rodríguez, and Frank “Machito” Grillo performed.
She mentioned that in the last track of the album, El Cid, she “played” the trumpet with her father thanks to technological advances.
Musical director Elías López and singers Gilberto Santa Rosa and Cheo Feliciano agreed that this production served as a pretext to recall anecdotes they lived together with the musician, who died on November 4, 1999.
“He was the only artist I have ever seen doing arrangements without piano and listening to other music on the other side. He had the virtue of concentrating and producing something well in advance,” said Elías Lopés.
“I had the joy of knowing Mario for a long time because he and Marito used to pick me up to go to school. I have always said that he is my dad in music…He told me to study because the music was a hobby, but when he realized my interest, he gave me that first opportunity,” commented El Caballero de la Salsa, adding that Mario Ortiz “was an outstanding musician and represents the heart of the career of many of us”.
Mario Ortiz All Star Band includes songs such as Chinita, with Gilberto Santa Rosa; Se acabó el bembé, with Ismael Miranda; Rumberito, with Bobby Cruz and Roberto Roena, and others.
Source: Primera Hora, Puerto Rico. By: Jaime Torres Torres
At the age of 64, trumpeter Mario Ortiz was a man brimming with health and life. Death took him by surprise on November 4, 1999.
Thus came down the curtain on one of the most brilliant careers in Puerto Rican salsa and jazz.
His wake was attended by practically all the musicians of the country to bid farewell to the virtuoso trumpet player, accomplished arranger, and experienced orchestra conductor.
His son Mario Jr. inherited part of his arrangements because the maestro was so generous that he gave his music to his friends and colleagues. To commemorate his memory on the 10th anniversary of his passing, Mario Jr. celebrates his father’s contribution to salsa and Latin jazz with the historic recording “Tribute”.
“I was able to transcribe the arrangements that I didn’t have and thus confirmed what the musicians at the wake were saying in terms of his music being ahead of its time. With the help of Lenny Prieto, Ernesto Sánchez, and Tito Rivera I was able to decipher what Papi did in terms of harmonics and rhythm,” said Mario Jr.
In “Tribute” Mario Jr. recorded without alterations the orchestrations and arrangements of “A quitarse”, “Yaré yaré”, “Chinita”, “Move”, “Se acabó el bembé”, “Mambo infierno”, “Güiro y pandereta”, “El soplo”, “Rumberito”, “Que bonito es Puerto Rico”, “Maina” and others.
“What I did to make them sound more harmonically updated was to extend the duration with more participation of the singers and with additional solos and moñas,” he explained.
Coining the name “All Star Band”, as his father’s group was known during the 1960s, Mario Jr. brought together a core of the most respected soneros and instrumentalists in salsa.
On “Tribute”, arguably the Afro-Antillean music album of the year, Cheo Feliciano, Andy Montañez, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Ismael Miranda, Adalberto Santiago, Tony Vega, Chico Rivera, Pedro Brull, Tito Allen, Primi Cruz, Anthony Cruz, Ismaelito Rivera and Bobby Cruz joined their talents.
And, representing the musicians, he recruited as soloists Papo Lucca, Bobby Valentín, Richie Ray, Elías López, Roberto Roena, and others.
None of the artists were paid, out of respect for Mario’s memory and in reciprocation of their friendship.
“It’s incredible. Elías was the first one I told to do this. He was so happy that he suggested I call everyone who knew Mario. And Gilbertito quickly said yes because his first recording was with Papi.”
The presentation of “Tribute”, in honor of the forty-fifth anniversary of the founding of the All-Stars Band, was held yesterday at the Alquimia Bistro Restaurant in Condado.
The album, a Zamora Music Group production, will be distributed by Sony Music. The first single is titled “Chinita” and is performed by Gilberto Santa Rosa.
“Sony is interested in my project because Gilbertito interceded on my behalf. He wanted to release it with his label Camínalo, but he thought it would have more possibilities with a multinational”.
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