Mambo Mucho Mambo: The Complete Columbia Masters

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: Columbia/Legacy
ALBUM TITLE: Machito & His Afro-Cuban Orchestra
PERFORMER: Machito; big band/Mario Bauza (t)
CATALOGUE NO: 508 670-2

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While Machito acted out the part of amiable frontman and MC for his band, the brain behind the organisation was trumpeter and musical director Mario Bauza. A child prodigy who had played with the Havana Symphony, Bauza was a clarinet and sax virtuoso who took up trumpet and played in the bands of Chick Webb and Cab Calloway, where he also took on the role of musical director for both leaders.

His ultimate ambition was to combine the power of the American big band with Latin music, and to this end he formed a band with Machito, his brother-in-law, a long association that ultimately obscured his role as the creator of Latin jazz. In 1943, while Machito was engaged in wartime service, Bauza wrote a piece called ‘La Tanga’ that was the first authentic Latin-jazz piece. After recording for Clef in 1948 and 1949, Machito moved to Columbia to exploit a national Latin music craze.

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This album captures the authentic spirit, swirling rhythms and real excitement of original Latin jazz, from ‘Mambo Inn’ – the national anthem of Latin jazz – to lush bolero ‘Contigo en la distancia.’ These are the recordings that helped put Latin-jazz on the map and should be in every collection. Stuart Nicholson