African American History Culture : MACHITO MARIO, CHANO & DIZZY = AFRO-CUBAN JAZZ...

Discussion in 'African American History Culture' started by Isaiah, Apr 17, 2006.

  1. Isaiah

    Isaiah Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Jun 8, 2004
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    Latin Beat Magazine, April, 2005 by Frank M. Figueroa
    The celebrated Cuban bandleader Machito often referred his orchestra "The Cadillac of Latin Bands." In his view, the high standard of performance of his band could be likened to that of the top luxury vehicle of the North American automobile industry. If we give the matter consideration, we may conclude that Machito's comparison was appropriate.

    There are many similarities between assembling the individual parts required for a smooth-running automobile and bringing together the key musicians needed to form a top-performing band. When in 1902, Henry Leland and Robert Falconer manufactured the first Cadillac runabout they made sure that only the best parts were used. In a similar manner, when Machito organized the prototype of his band, he recruited the best instrumentalists available.

    The first model of the Machito Orchestra was unveiled 011 December 3, 1940, at the Park Palace Ballroom in New York. Pianist Gilberto Ayala, timbalero Tony Escoiles, saxophonist Johnny Nieto and Machito (as the vocalist) composed the framework of the group. It was a small ensemble with not much driving power, just like the single-cylinder, first Cadillac.

    In 1941, the innovative musical genius Mario Bauzá Ioined the venture and returned the group's blueprint to the drawing board. Mario designed an improved model of the Machito Band. More accomplished musicians were brought in. Many of them had a jazz background. Among them were saxophonists Freddie Skerritt, Gene Johnson, and José "Pin" Madera; trumpeter Bobby Woodlen and drummer Tito Puente. John Bartee, Edgar Sampson and other arrangers with big band experience wrote many of the band's charts. The group was now developing more power of execution. Broadway impresarios discovered the orchestra in the uptown ballrooms and made it possible for them to exhibit their talent in such famous nightclubs as La Conga. Before moving on to delineating the advanced models of the band, we should give proper recognition to the early members of the orchestra. Iznaga's Siboney Orchestra. When that band broke up due to some personnei clashes, Ayala joined the newly formed Machito Band. He remained with that group until 1943, when he was drafted into the U.S. Army. In 1946, he became the pianist and arranger for the Marcelino Guerra Orchestra. The collaboration of Ayala and Guerra kept that group as one of the top Latín bands in New York during the '40s and '50s.

    Escoiles, alias "El Cojito" (The Lame One), was a bongó player who later switched to timbal. He played with several local groups in New York City's El Barrio (East Harlem). The Cuban-born Escoiles joined the Machito Orchestra in 1940. Tito Puente replaced him in 1941.

    Johnny Nieto was a Puerto Rican clarinetist and saxophonist who first played with Alberto Iznaga's Siboney Orchestra and, in 1940, became a member of the Machito Orchestra. He was called for military service in 1943 and did not rejoin the band upon bis discharge. His brotber, Ubaldo "Uba" Nieto, was Machito's drummer for many years.

    Tito Puente, alias "The Boy Genius," joined the Machito Orchestra in 1941 when he was only 16 years old. He played with the band until 1943, when he left to join the U.S. Navy. At the end of World War II, be tried to get his job back, but found out that Uba Nieto was firmly established in his place. Tito graciously agreed not to seek to have Uba dismissed because the latter had a family to support. We all know that Tito Puente went on to become greatly renowned as drummer, composer and bandleader.

    Mario Bauzá was the grand designer of Machito's "Music Machine." He realized his dream of developing a Latin band that played authentic Cuban music as well as jazz pieces backed by a rhythm section composed of genuine Afro-Cuban instruments. In addition to his responsibilities as musical director, Mario played trumpet with the band. On May 29, 1943, the Machito Orchestra played for the first time the Mario Bauzá composition titled Tanga. That tune is considered by some music historians as the first Latín jazz tune ever written.

    Trumpet player Bobby Woodlen was one of Mario Bauzá's early recruits. The African-American musician had a long experience with big jazz orchestras and contributed significantly to the development of the group with his arrangements. He was also a composer, and the band recorded some of his numbers. One of the best remembered is his bolero Inolvidable (Unforgettable). This number should not be confused with the Julio Gutiérrez classic sharing the same title.

    Freddie Skerritt was an alto saxophone player, also recruited by Mario Bauzá. He was a mainstay of the sax frontline of the Machito Band, flora 1941 until his retirement in 1955.




    Jun 14, 2006
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    This was a pretty good article, Isaiah, though in reading it I saw a few flaws in the facts as they presented them... Too bad you're not here to discuss those facts, as I see you were banned, but it is good to know that there are/were folks at this website who know and care about this kind of information...
  3. jamesfrmphilly

    jamesfrmphilly going above and beyond PREMIUM MEMBER

    United States
    Jun 18, 2004
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    retired computer geek
    north philly ghetto
    welcome to the house. there are folks around here who care and know about all aspects of our background.
    feel free to share.