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World Music CD Reviews Jazz

MACHITO AND HIS AFROCUBAN ORCHESTRA

By Tom Orr
Published April 26, 2006

Mambo Mucho Mambo–The Complete Columbia Masters
Columbia/Legacy

It’s been over 60 years since charismatic vocalist/bandleader Frank “Machito” Grillo and trumpeter/arranger/composer Mario Bauza combined the rhythms of their native Cuba with Big Apple jazz. The resulting style, Afro-Cuban jazz, has seen incarnations embracing deep roots, crossover popularity and everything in between, but it all began with Machito and Mario. Their orchestra was one of the hottest bands in NYC by 1947, routinely firing up crowds at the Palladium Ballroom and forever influencing future generations of Latin and jazz musicians. Mambo Mucho Mambo is loaded with classic tracks recorded by Machito and co. for the Columbia label in the 1950s, and handily showcases the infectiousness and versatility they were known for. The songs range from hauntingly exotic (“Bella Mora”) and playfully sensual (“Si Si-No No”) to toe-tappingly mainstream (“Mambo A La Savoy”) and rousingly celebratory (“Carambola,” “Mambo Inn”). Machito provided some of the first “world music” to captivate American listeners; this disc shows why Latin jazz continues to thrive and why its origins are a prime piece of musical history.