Kino Morán: The voice that Toured Cuba

kinomoranMaybe little remembered or forgotten in time, his musical history, robust and vital, left marks on those who knew him or on those who, like famous Cuban presenter Germán Pinelli, agreed to characterize him with one phrase: “There is not a stretch of Cuban soil that has not received the voice and presence of Mr. Kino Morán.”

Kino Morán was his stage name, but his real identity was Joaquín Moltó Corominas, born on October 29, 1930, in Havana, and whose love and flair for singing started when he was just a child, when he sang at schools and neighborhoods without even imagining that, years later, he would be someone famous.

He met icons of Cuban musical history, he sang with important figures of all time, and he was lead singer of renowned orchestras in the capital and around the country. Likewise, he was part of big public shows and of national radio and television programs that are still remembered.

His professional debut took place on September 8, 1947, accompanied by the Conjunto Bayamo, during the Festival of the Guardian of Guanabacoa. Some time later he joined the Orquesta Hermanos Martinez and the group Jóvenes del Cayo led by Alfonsín Quintana and Domingo Vargas, respectively, until he joined the Indians Orchestra of San Antonio del Río Blanco. There, at the Liceum of Jaruco where he performed, he saw Roberto Faz, singer with the Conjunto, stand in front of a dais to ask him “Are you interested in making incursions into an orchestra of higher quality?” It would be one of the first surprises of his life as a singer; just 24 hours later Joaquín Moltó Corominas underwent a test, which he passed and led him to join the Swing Casino de Guines Orchestra conducted by Rafael Solís over the next two years.

Future was bright for him. Later he received another proposal: Alipio Garcia, owner of Havana’s Ali Bar cabaret, which he wanted to expand, came to his house, and asked the singer for help in the search of an orchestra. “I liked the José Alfonso group and it so happened that they had no singer and I started singing at the cabaret and also in the show at the request of Alipio himself,” asserted Morán.

But the musical life of Joaquín Moltó Corominas did not stop; future continued to be bright for him. Even without artistic maturity yet, his potential grew and so did job offers. One night Rolando Aguiló, an outstanding trumpet player of the Hermanos Castro Orchestra, came and asked him if he wanted to try his luck with that group, which at the time performed in Radio Progreso. “I made up my mind, saw the rehearsals in that place, which included those of singer Orestes Macías, among others. In the hallway I saw Antonio’s brother, Manolo, and he told me ‘come.’ I was very nervous, I rehearsed a song and when I was half way through I was stopped, and I heard him saying ‘find it a suit for this man because he will take part in the program.” I was so exited that I didn’t even remember the phone number of my parents to tell them the news; I did the program and people seemed to like it.”

That stage represented an important turning point in the artistic career of Joaquin Moltó Corominas. He considers it to be his real acid test. “There I became a real professional, I was taught how to dress, how to comb my hair,” he says. The Cristal beer brand sponsored the program of Radio Progreso and he was asked to change his name because, according to organizers, it did not sound well. During a meeting, Adalberto Fernández said, “this gentleman is now called Kino Morán, the Heartthrob of the One Thousand Girlfriends. I talked to my father so he gave me his consent and he accepted, recalls the bolero performer- my artistic life began practically there and I mixed in Radio Progreso with Pedro Vargas, Nelson Pinedo, Rolando Laserie, Daniel Santos and Orlando Vallejo, among other musical luminaries.”

As part of the group Hermanos Castro, the musical life of Kino Morán was full of anecdotes. Once, famous Lucho Gatica was going to make his debut in Radio Progreso and the program decided to have just him, and that the orchestra would accompany him making the instrumentals. It was then when Ovidio Fernández said “Kino Morán sings here today and tomorrow, because Lucho Gatica comes today and we don’t know when he will return to Cuba. I continued working with the Orquesta Hermanos Castro until 1961.”

After the triumph of the Revolution in Cuba, Kino Morán joined the Julio Cueva Orchestra and became a soloist in the early 1960’s. His artistic life began to retrace new paths. He worked in television in star programs such as the Show del Mediodía, and in various productions with the best directors; he worked at CMQ with Sol Pinelly and Oscar Luis López, and with directors of the stature of Pedraza Ginori, Humberto Bravo and Amaury Pérez, Joaquín M. Condal also and Manolo Rifat, with whom he did most of his presentations.

And he worked and sang not only in Havana but also in Camaguey, in Guantánamo, where he made his debut with late singers Gina León and Celeste Mendoza, also with the well known Montalvo Circus during tours of the north, center and south of eastern Cuba, because “I think circus is the world’s largest show since you have contacts with countless people, customs, cultures and different ways of being of populations. I can say that I participated in one of the biggest shows of my time. That nurtured my life.”

He is grateful to Benny Moré (The King of Rhythm) for the recording of his first full-length album with RCA Victor; he coincided with him at the Ali Bar Cabaret; maestro Gonzalo Roig directed him to the bolero and the search for his true musical image, after having heard him during a rehearsal and recommend him “do not sing like a tenor, you should sing boleros because your figure suits you.”

Likewise, Kino Morán had the privilege of working with the Conjunto Roberto Faz, the Original de Manzanillo Orchestra and with Manolo del Valle, whom he always considered a brother; also with orchestras in Camaguey and Santa Clara, and with almost all of the former Oriente province. That is why the phrase “the voice that toured Cuba” was well deserved.

Among his many recordings we find hits like “Dos perlas” by Arturo Clenton, the Cuban-Panamanian, “Si te contara,” by Félix Reina, plus another bolero that he never stopped singing, “Quien sabe corazón,” by Xiomara Méndez. Kino Morán made over 250 recordings including commercial ones and those with the Cuban Radio and Television Institute, such as “Poseída,” by Juan Almeida, “Indestructible,” by Chucho Valdés, “Para verte,” by Juan Almeida, “Canción de mi Habana,” by Tania Castellanos, “La Lupe,” by Juan Almeida and “Vuelvo,” by María Álvarez Ríos, among many others, for various record labels, such as Puchito, Areito and RCA Victor.

 

With over 60 years of artistic life, Joaquín Moltó Corominas -Kino Morán- lived for his music and in music; sang from the people and for the people those boleros with unique nuances and a varied repertoire; he had in his blood the essence of being part of the people he never disappointed and always loved, that is why he had the privilege of bringing together over 120 godchildren throughout the country because in every place he performed he left a small trail of love and modesty among all Cubans who knew him: “We bolero singers of the old guard are natural voices that sing the way they speak, without the pomposity you often hear in the voices of academies. We are singers that people like and we do not need inventions, nothing more,” he once said.

 

He died on November 11, 2006, leaving an important legacy to those who applauded and admired him, and beyond his valuable artistic work, the fact of constituting a complete human being, until the last minutes of his life.

 

References consulted:

Suárez, Senén. Reflexiones y experiencias. From the CUBARTE Digital Newspaper, González, R. Ricardo. “Kino Morán, Cuba” ricardosoy

 

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