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Mario Bauzá

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A talented section player who rarely soloed, Mario Bauzá's main importance to music was behind the scenes as one of the main instigators of Afro-Cuban jazz, the potent mixture of Latin rhythms with jazz improvisation. A multi-instrumentalist, Bauzá played clarinet and oboe with the Havana Philharmonic before moving to New York in 1930. During a stint with Noble Sissle in 1932, he switched to trumpet. As musical director with Chick Webb (1933-1938), Bauzá helped convince the drummer of the potential greatness of Ella Fitzgerald. He was with Don Redman during 1938-1939, and then Cab Calloway (1939-1941). Bauzá was largely responsible for Calloway hiring Dizzy Gillespie, and in 1947 he would introduce Gillespie to Chano Pozo. Bauzá became the longtime musical director of his brother-in-law Machito's orchestra (1941-1976), encouraging Machito to add jazz solos to his music. In the 1980s and early '90s as the head of his own Afro-Cuban orchestra, Mario Bauzá (who had long since given up playing trumpet) recorded three excellent albums of his arrangements and finally received some recognition for his important contributions to music.


28 April 1911 in Havana, Cuba

Years Active:

'30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s