Castro is a Puerto Rican musician who grew up in Humacao. His early music education began at the famed Escuela Libre de Música: an institution that boasts distinguished alumni such as Miguel Zenón & David Sánchez. In 2008, Castro received a scholarship from the Puerto Rico Heineken Jazz Festival to attend Berklee College of Music. While earning his degree in Jazz Performance, Mario quickly established a reputation as a bandleader, composer and musician
Mario Castro formed the Mario Castro Quintet in 2009 while at Berklee. By 2012 the group released their first album Primavera on Greg Osby's Inner Circle Music label. Mario relocated to New York City shortly thereafter, and began writing music with a larger pallet of colors and sounds in mind. This pursuit eventually lead to combining the "magic power" of a string quartet that adds brilliant warm textures with the rumbling vibrant crash of the quintet: Mario Castro Quintet + Strings was born. In a nutshell: a mix of John Coltrane's cosmic intensity and Debussy's ability of creating emotive and visual images with sounds. This music moves your feet and your heart.
Signing a record deal with Interrobang Records in 2013, the group's new sound was captured at the legendary Avatar Studios in NYC. Estrella De Mar (star of the sea) is an emotional ride brought to life by a stunning performance of each group member as well as special guests Casey Benjamin, David Sánchez, Dave Liebman, Emily Elbert, Jaime Woods, J. Hoard, among others. Besides playing at major North American Jazz Festivals (Newport, Montreal), MCQ + Strings has most recently performed and lead workshops at the Xalapa Jazz Festival in Mexico in July 2015.
Besides his work as a composer, Mario is also a very active musician in the New York music scene. He has been playing, recording and collaborating with a wide range of artists such as Lauryn Hill, Fifth Harmony, Papo Vasquez across RnB, Pop and Latin Jazz genres. At once sensitive and dynamic, Mario Castro is an artist to watch.