Mario Bauza and the Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra
Messidor Musik 1993
It was April 27th, 1991, Mario and
his orchestra was performing at New York's Synphony Space in
celebration of his 80th birthday, when, according to Calzado,
a man by the name of Götz Wörner of the famed record
label Messidor Musik made his way backstage after the concert
to Mario's dressing room. Mr. Wörner was so impressed with
the performance that he asked Mario Bauza, "I want to record
this band." And the rest is history. The following year,
Mario proceeded to record the first of three albums named after
his landmark composition written in 1943 titled "Tanga."
This album would prove to be very successful allowing Bauza and
his Afro-Cuban Jazz orchestra to tour Europe. After his second
recording with Messidor titled "My Time Is Now" Mario
would return to the studio for the last time in early 1993 to
record this CD titled "944 Columbus."
Named after his apartment where he lived for half a century,
Mario passed away on July 11th, 1993, leaving a musical legacy
expanding back to the beginings of the formation of Afro-Cuban
Jazz in the late 1930s and 40s. His most enduring and memorable
association as musical director with Machito and his Afro-Cubans
would allow him to lay the foundation for the creation of Afro-Cuban
Jazz. Almost seven decades later, Mario Bauza's last musical
work "944 Columbus" would once again prove to be influencial
Under Mario's leadership, "944 Columbus" features
a cohesive group of talented musicians. The trumpet section includes
Victor Pàz, Michael Philip Mossman, Daniel Colette, Manny
Duràn both on trumpet and fluegelhorn. The trombones include
Gerry Chamberlain, Bruce Eidem and Don Hayward. The sax section
features Rolando Briceño on alto and suprano, Peter Yellinon
on alto and clarinet, Enrique Fernandez on tenor and flute, Dioris
Rivera on tenor and alto flute, and Pablo Calogero on baritone.
The rhythm section includes Marcus Persiani on piano, Joe Santiago
on acoustic bass, Bobby Sanabria on drums, Jose Mangual Jr. on
bongos, Carlos "Patato" Valdèz on congas, Joe
Gonzàles and Josè Alexis Diaz on percussion. the
lead vocalists are Graciela and Rudy Calzado, with background
vocals by Yolanda Maldonado, Adela Dalto and Elvira Franco.
The hot brass sections explodes
with termendous energy along with percussion on the first track
"Cubauzà" with the zesty sax section performing
the melody. Next, a Bauzà composition, "Zambia"
spins a straight-ahead latin Jazz concoction for dancing feet.
The mood continues caliente with a rumba titled "La Clave
De Ya Ya" featuring Rudy Calzado on lead vocals. Another
Bauzà compostion, "Lourdes' Lullaby" is a slow
Afro-Cuban bolero that features some interesting flute harmonies
fused with orchestral sounds, later turning into a double-time
feel with a furious suprano sax solo. A Chico O'Farrill arrangement,
"Congratulations To Someone" is a lush bolero featuring
the enchanting voice of Graciela--who also sang with Machito
from 1945 to '75.
Composed by Irving Berlin, "Heatwave" romps with
Latin Jazz grooves featuring tasty trumpet and sax solos. "Canto
Lucumì" explores the essense of Afro-Cuban religious
rhythms with big band overtones. If Mario's composition "Tanga"
marked the definative creation and beginings of Cubop, Dizzy
Gillespie's composition track 8 "Night in Tunisia"
became the staple of the Latin Jazz fusion movement effectively
bridging Jazz and Afro-Cuban rhythms. A tune that she used to
performed with Machito, Graciela returns with "Biri Bi Kum
Bi." In true Afro-Cuban Jazz vintage fashion, Bauzà
and his orchestra end the set with a tribute to the famed conguero
Chano Pozo titled "Pozo" featuring some poetic chanting
from Rudy Calzado in the old Cuban religious tradition.
"944 Columbus" is a fantastic voyage of musical
authenticity depicting the unification of Jazz and Afro-Cuban
rhythm in its highest form. The work of Michael Philip Mossman
on trumpet especially his arranging skills are to be highly commended.
The rhythm section is tight. The brass and woodwinds deliver
with presicion, as well as some oustanding soloists. Graciela
and Calzado sing with emotion. As expressively illustrated in
this classic recording, Mario Bauza is a visionary whose groundbreaking
musical work will always echo the past, present and future of
review by John Davis
Comment on this article: