Best Latin Jazz

June 3, 2016

The Best Latin Jazz Album


Ken Burns Jazz: Duke Ellington (Columbia/Legacy CK 61444)

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Duke Ellington (piano), Rex Stewart (cornet), Arthur Whetsol (trumpet), Cootie Williams (trumpet), Lawrence Brown (trombone), Joe "Tricky Sam" Nanton (trombone), Juan Tizol (valve trombone), Barney Bigard (clarinet), Johnny Hodges (clarinet), Otto Hardwick (alto sax), Harry Carney (baritone sax), Fred Guy (guitar), Billy Taylor (bass), Sonny Greer (drums).

Composed by Duke Ellington & Juan Tizol


Recorded: New York, May 14, 1937

Rating: 97/100

Ellingtons early contribution to the Latin jazz canon is a collaboration with valve trombonist Juan Tizol. Caravan combines the Afro-Cuban practice of elaboration over a repeating vamp section, and the American jazz tradition of passages with more harmonic variety. In this case, in the middle section Ellington references the oft-employed harmonic progression from George Gershwins I Got Rhythm to contrast to the first theme, which is driven by a more rhythmic feel. Tizol continued to work as trombonist and collaborative composer in Ellingtons band for years to come, and the enormously popular Caravan stayed in Ellingtons repertoire for his entire career.


Machito and his Orchestra

The Original Mambo Kings: An Introduction to Afro-Cubop (Verve 513876)

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Charlie Parker (alto sax), Flip Phillips (tenor sax), Mario Bauza (trumpet),

Frank “Paquito” Davilla, Bob Woodlen (trumpet); Gene Johnson, Fred Skerritt (alto sax); Jose Madera (tenor sax) Leslie Johnakins (baritone sax); Rene Hernandez (piano); Roberto Rodriguez (bass); Luis Miranda (conga); Jose Mangual (bongo); Ubaldo Nieto (timbales)


Composed by Mario Bauza. Arranged and conducted by Machito


Recorded: New York, January 1949

Albumcovermachito-originalmambokingsRating: 95/100

Written by Mario Bauza, the musician who brought Dizzy Gillespie and Chano Pozo together, Tanga is a forgotten classic, which predated and anticipated the partnership of Afro-Cuban music and jazz that took place in the Gillespie and Kenton bands, among others. Joining the band as a guest soloist is the jazz tenor saxophonist Flip Phillips, who improvises over a repeating pattern played by the rest of the band. This manner of improvisation continues to be the norm for Afro-Cuban music, but at the time it would have been quite challenging for an American jazz musician. Nonetheless, Phillips gives a convincing performance, fitting in comfortably with the Machito Orchestra.

Dizzy Gillespie And His Big Band In Concert Featuring Chano Pozo (GNP/Crescendo 23)

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and a big band featuring James Moody (tenor sax) and Chano Pozo, (congas)


Composed by Dizzy Gillespie and Chano Pozo


Recorded: Recorded live in 1948

Rating: 100/100

Dizzy Gillespie at Birdland, photo by Marcel Fleiss

Often regarded as the quintessential representation of Latin jazz, Manteca was innovative among contemporary compositions for the heightened level of synthesis between Afro-Cuban music and American jazz. Introduced to Afro-Cuban music by trumpeter/composer Mario Bauza, Dizzy Gillespie sought to explore the music with his big band, adding the Cuban conguero Chano Pozo in September 1947. Until his untimely and mythic demise just over a year later, Chano Pozo made an indelible mark on both the jazz and Latin American music worlds. This track contrasts sections of more percussion-driven, rhythmically complex Afro-Cuban passages with passages that are more akin to the melodic and harmonic conventions of American jazz.

Albumcoverdizzygillespie-bigbandinconcert Albumcoverarseniorodriguez-montuneando Albumcoverskentonbest Albumcovercubanblues-chicoofarrillsessions
Radio Show: 2 Hours of Best Latin Jazz Music Radio Shows
Radio Show: 2 Hours of Best Latin Jazz Music Radio Shows ...
"Set Free" - (Latin-GRAMMY nominated fo Best Latin Jazz Album)
"Set Free" - (Latin-GRAMMY nominated fo Best Latin Jazz Album)
Second Half, Grammy Nominated 2015 for Best Latin Jazz Album
Second Half, Grammy Nominated 2015 for Best Latin Jazz Album

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