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Mario Bauza and the Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra - 944 Columbus


Mario Bauza and the Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra
944 Columbus

Messidor Musik 1993

Mario BauzaIt 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 and innovative.

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.

Mario BauzaThe 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 Afro-Cuban Jazz.

review by John Davis
JDavis@latnjazzclub.com
Contributing writer
LatinJazzClub.com Magazine

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