Tremendo Cumban! (1949-1952)

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Among top Latin jazz and mambo innovators of the 1940s like Perez Prado, Tito Puente, and Tito Rodriguez, Machito was the one who most heeded the call of bebop. With the encouragement of trumpeter and brother-in-law Mario Bauza, Machito collaborated with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, enlisted the talents of bebop luminaries like Howard McGhee and Brew Moore for live shows, and eventually worked with future modern jazz stars such as Cannonball Adderley and Johnny Griffin. Comprised of recordings from Machito's prime period of 1949-1952, Tremendo Cuban! makes the bebop connection explicit with covers of both the Gillespie and Chico O'Farrill classic "Carambola" and Bauza and Edgar Sampson's bop favorite "Mambo Inn." Strains of bebop are also heard in the frenetic and heady arrangements used on both "Bongo Fiesta" and a cover of Chano Pozo's Latin jazz perennial "Blen, Blen, Blen." (It was Pozo, in fact, who teamed up with Gillespie for groundbreaking Afro-Cuban jazz numbers like "Manteca," "Cubana Be," and "Cubana Bop.") Rounding out this fine set are straight-ahead mambo cuts like "Mambo Mucho Mambo," Latin pop excursions such as "Mambo la Savoy" (featuring a velvety chorus straight out of a Glenn Miller arrangement), and several entertaining vocal numbers by Machito's sister Graciela Perez. And with Machito's own fine vocals and the stellar backing of his 20-piece band topping things off, this disc qualifies an essential title for fans of the king of mambo-bebop.