No one has done more to bring together Latin jazz and soul-jazz than Henry "Pucho" Brown, a lively, distinctive percussionist whose forte has been a groove-oriented mixture of hard bop, Afro-Cuban salsa and R&B. Raised in New York's Harlem section, Pucho fell in love with jazz and R&B as a child and developed a passion for salsa and Afro-Cuban music after being exposed to the music of Tito Puente and Dominican pianist Frank Damiron when he was 12 and 13. Over the years, many people have assumed that Pucho is Puerto Rican, but in fact, he is (like the late Dizzy Gillespie) an African American who fell madly in love with Latin music. Pucho was 15 when he bought his first set of timbales, and he soon found himself playing Latin jazz around Harlem with a little-known band called Los Lobos Diablos. Pianist Joe Panama employed Pucho as a sideman in the late 1950s, and when Panama's band broke up in 1959, Pucho formed his own band and recruited several Panama alumni. Pucho, who would later rename his band the Latin Soul Brothers, first recorded as a leader for Epic in 1963. Pucho signed with Prestige in 1966 and recorded seven albums for that label before leaving in 1970. The percussionist recorded two little-known LPs for the Right On! label in the early to mid-1970s before disbanding the Latin Soul Brothers, moving to the Catskill Mountains and earning his living doing local gigs in resort hotels. It wasn't until the 1990s that he made an unexpected comeback thanks to the popularity of acid jazz. After forming a new edition of the Latin Soul Brothers in 1992 and touring with that band from 1993-1995, Pucho returned to the studio with 1995's Rip a Dip on Milestone and recorded for Cannonball in the late 1990s. Between his return to recording and Fantasy reissuing some of his Prestige work, the New Yorker was more visible than he'd been since the 1960s.
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