know of no other timbale player that has worked
with as many significant bands as Mike Collazo
has. At the age of 14, Mike began studying with
Ubaldo Nieto, the timbale player with the Machito
Orchestra. Mike attended New York City High School,
School of Industrial Design along with musicians,
Orlando Marin and Joe Quijano. It was during
this period that he introduced Orlando to Latin
music. Probably the most famous alumnus of this
high school is the singer Tony Bennett.
graduating high school Mike attended Manhattan
School of Music, long enough to learn how
to read music. This skill gave him the opportunity
to record many albums and jingles.
first big break came when he joint the band of
Cuban singer Marcelino Guerra. At the age of 18
he joined the band of another great Cuban singer,
Vicentico Valdez Band. He stayed with this band
until he was drafted into the army at the
age of 23.
returning from the army, Mike performed with Eddie
Palmieri's La Perfecta, one of my all-time
favorite bands. One of the places they played
was a downstairs club on 77th Street in New York
by the name of Che José. I used to carry
my newly developed cowbells in brown paper bags
to this club for the musicians to evaluate. Mike
remembers me from this era.
on in Mike's career he was told the timbale job
for Tito Rodriguez would be coming to him, but
he felt he had to decline it because he was too
inexperienced. In those days it was a very
special event when a job opened up in one of these
great bands since sidemen were accustomed to being
in these bands for 10-15 years. Usually someone
would have to die before any musical chair would
open up. In the case of Tito Rodriguez, it was
Papi Paganni, a great musician in Collaso's words,
who had to leave due to personal problems and
Mike took the job. He stayed with Tito Rodriguez
for 5 years.
the Tito Rodriguez band, Mike joined up with the
RIcardo Rey band that was very popular in the
1970s. A solo of Mike's on the Agúsate
album got him recognition as a soloist. His prior
career called for his work to be that of a time
keeper and not a soloist. Even until this day,
he is known as far away as in the country of Colombia
for his solo on this album. When I asked Eddie
Montalvo to speak about Mike, his first thought
was of this very album which he felt was one that
defined an era in Latin music.
the last 15 years, Mike has been a member of the
New York charanga band, Orchestra Broadway. Another
of my favorite bands.
the personal side, Mike is a great father and
grandfather and a gentleman at all times. He is
always courteous and sensitive to others. My dear
friend, bass player Eddie 'Gua Gua' Rivera,
said that his sister, who dated Mike confirmed
his gentlemanly ways.
Palmieri's La Perfecta album with Mike Collazo.
am delighted to have had to the chance to interview
Mike and I
hope you enjoy listening to him tell his story
as much as I did.
Delgado along with Mike, Jr. participated in the