A Bold Vision: Celebrating Mario Bauza

by chipboaz on April 28, 2017

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As a style, we take Latin Jazz for granted today, sometimes forgetting just how forward looking it was to combine jazz and Afro-Cuban dance music in the early days of the music. During the forties, Afro-Cuban music had just taken hold of popular culture and the increasing complexity of bebop was alienating the general public. Most people saw these musics as two separate worlds that had very different audiences, lived in opposing venues, and held to divergent backgrounds. The combination of these musics not only broke down musical barriers, but it also crossed the very defined racial boundaries of the era. It was a big risk to bring Afro-Cuban music and jazz into the same household – this was an action that took musical knowledge, bravery, and a bold worldview that escaped most people of the era.

Today we’re celebrating the birthday of a ground breaking musician that saw the potential of a blend between Afro-Cuban rhythms and jazz when most people saw them as two separate worlds – bandleader and Latin Jazz visionary Mario Bauza would have been 106 years young today. Musically, it made sense that Bauza was the one to bring jazz and Afro-Cuban music together. He started as a clarinet virtuoso in Havana playing classical music, moved to New York and played jazz on trumpet, and ended up as the musical director for Machito And His Afro-Cubans, an Afro-Cuban dance band – Bauza was always a musician that lived in different worlds. His experience in jazz inspired the inclusion of jazz harmonies and improvisation into the repertoire of Machito And His Afro-Cubans, starting a revolution. He freely brought jazz musicians into the band, sparking a wider interest in the combination. We definitely owe Bauza a huge debt for showing the bravery, vision, and humanity to lay the foundation for Latin Jazz. In celebration of his work, today’s video features Bauza And His Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra in 1992 playing a number of songs – enjoy!

Do you have a Latin Jazz video to share? E-mail a link to latinjazzcorner@gmail.com

Check out recent Latin Jazz videos:
Leny Andrade, Paquito D’Rivera, Hendrik Murkens, & Romero Lubambo Play Bluesette
In The Studio: Andy Gonzalez Recording Misty For Entre Colegas
Poncho Sanchez: Mambo Inn & Green Dolphin Mash-Up
Exploring Choro With Anat Cohen & Trio Brasileiro: In The Spirit Of Baden
Re-Contextualizing Music: Michel Camilo Big Band Playing Caribe

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