Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Various Artists - More than Mambo The Introduction to Afro-Cuban Jazz (Verve, 1995)

Latin music has always been a rich vein in the history of jazz, dating all the way back to Jelly Roll Morton in New Orleans and his famous 'Spanish Tinge.' The influence of Cuban music really kicked into high gear with the Bebop musicians, especially Dizzy Gillespie, who adored the music and invited many of the leading Cuban musicians to perform with his band. This is a compilation of Latin and Afro-Cuban jazz recorded for Norman Granz's Verve label during the 1950's and 60's and reflects the interplay of these two dynamic genres of music.

Some of the most well known performers in the genre are represented on this two-disc set, including the vibraphonist Cal Tjader whose cool, percussive sound is heard on a number of cuts, most notably the haunting version of 'Somewhere in the Night.' A couple of hot compositions of Dizzy Gilliespie's master percussionist make the bill also. But these are just some of the highlights on a very broad collection of music. Anyone interested in the Latin or Afro-Cuban links to jazz are well advised to look for this interesting collection.

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