ANTONIO MARÍA ROMEU
Antonio María Romeu founded his own orchestra in 1910. The initial line-up for Orchestra Romeu was: Romeu (piano); Feliciano Facenda (violin); Alfredo Valdés (flute); Rafael Calazán (double bass); Remigio Valdés (timbal); Juan de la Merced (güiro): quite a small group. By the 1920s the orchestra included Francisco Delabart (flute); Augusto Valdés (clarinet); Juan Quevedo (violin); Aurelio Valdés and Félix Vásquez (güiro); Antonio Ma. Romeu (son, violin); Pedro Hernández (violin); Dihigo (trumpet); Regueira (trombone) and José Antonio Díaz (flute). In the 1930s the orchestra added even more musicians, and became for a while a ‘big band’. In wartime, with a diminution of tourism, the band reduced its size.
The danzón had been, since its beginning in the 1870s, an instrumental genre, but by 1927 bands began to include a singer. The Romeu band had, initially, Fernando Collazo, and in the 1930s Barbarito Diez. From the beginning, and throughout his career, Antonio María Romeu employed musicians of all racial types, as Cuban bands had done since at least 1800.
When Romeu died, the orchestra was led for a while by his son, also Antonio María Romeu, then by Barbarito Diez. It still played the traditional danzón, but now was called the Orquesta de Barbarito Diez