Print this Page

World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

MACHITO AND HIS AFRO-CUBANS

By PAUL-EMILE COMEAU
Published May 2, 2006

Ritmo Caliente
Properbox

Machito had a profound influence on Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Kenton and others. But the man also left his mark on rumba, mambo and other genres such as salsa. The 73 tracks on this four-CD set emphasize his innovative fusion of Afro-Cuban sounds with jazz. Disc one features his best Decca tracks from 1941, recorded several years after settling in New York, along with 10 from 1942 alongside the great Cuban vocalist Miguelito Valdes. The second disc spans the late ’40s with Cuban and American legends, including Arsenio Rodriguez, Brew Moore and even Charlie Parker. All of disc three appeared on Norman Granz’s Clef label in 1949-50. Disc four leads off with the impressive 17-minute “Afro-Cuban Suite” from 1950 and closes with 10 live cuts. Only a few tunes here appear on the 20-track Columbia Legacy album (which has better sound), but this set is a very good value, even if only covering his early years.