February 22, 2021

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Bebop 1945-1950: Cubop

February 22, 2021- Today's Bebop Era Topic: Cubop

Cubop is the marriage of Afro-Cuban rhythms with bebop harmony and improvisation. It emerged during the bop era when Dizzy Gillespie added Chano Pozo to his big band in 1947.

Jazz oriented Afro-Cuban music first appeared in New York in the early nineteen forties with Machito and His Afro-Cubans. The music director for the band was Machito’s brother in law Mario Bauza.

Bauza was one of the first cuban musicians to work in American big bands.  He played the trumpet and alto and joined Chick Webb in 1933.  Bauza helped Webb discover Ella Fitzgerald at one of the Apollo Theater amateur contests.  He also met Dizzy Gillespie during his time with Webb.

In 1938 he joined Cab Calloway’s trumpet section and convinced Calloway to hire Gillespie.  Working with Bauza piqued Dizzy’s curiosity about the mysteries of Afro-Cuban rhythm.

In 1943 Bauza wrote the tune "Tanga" which is considered the first latin jazz tune.

After Dizzy formed his big band in the mid-forties he got the idea to add the Afro-Cuban rhythmic element to the band.  In 1947 Bauza introduced Dizzy to Chano Pozo.

Chano had become famous in his birthplace of Havana as a dancer and master percussionist and was the most sought after Rumbero. He immigrated to the United States in 1947 and was soon introduced to Dizzy and added to the band.  The addition of Chano Pozo’s conga drum to Dizzy’s rhythm section created the birth of Cu-bop.

He debuted at Dizzy’s high profile Carnegie Hall concert on September 29, 1947 and was featured on George Russell’s Cubana Be-Cubana Bop.  He also collaborated with Dizzy on several of the early Cubop pieces including Tin Tin Deo and Manteca.

Their collaboration was short-lived though as Pozo was shot and killed in a bar in Harlem in December of 1948.

In the meantime Cu-bop was established and others started to experiment with the style.

In 1948 Howard McGhee worked with Machito and performed and recorded the tune Cubop City.

Machito incorporated Charlie Parker into two recording sessions plus some live performances.  The sessions produced several titles for Norman Granz including No Noise, Mango Mangue and Chico O’ Farrill’s masterpiece  The Afro-Cuban Jazz Suite.

Other notable congueros that came to the US at that time include Mongo Santamaría, Armando Peraza, Francisco Aguabella, Carlos Vidal and Modesto Durán.