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From Afro-Cuban Rhythms to Latin Jazz

From Afro-Cuban Rhythms to Latin Jazz

Raul A. Fernandez
Copyright Date: 2006
Edition: 1
Pages: 215
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  • Book Info
    From Afro-Cuban Rhythms to Latin Jazz
    Book Description:

    This book explores the complexity of Cuban dance music and the webs that connect it, musically and historically, to other Caribbean music, to salsa, and to Latin Jazz. Establishing a scholarly foundation for the study of this music, Raul A. Fernandez introduces a set of terms, definitions, and empirical information that allow for a broader, more informed discussion. He presents fascinating musical biographies of prominent performers Cachao López, Mongo Santamaría, Armando Peraza, Patato Valdés, Francisco Aguabella, Cándido Camero, Chocolate Armenteros, and Celia Cruz. Based on interviews that the author conducted over a nine-year period, these profiles provide in-depth assessments of the musicians' substantial contributions to both Afro-Cuban music and Latin Jazz. In addition, Fernandez examines the links between Cuban music and other Caribbean musics; analyzes the musical and poetic foundations of the Cuban son form; addresses the salsa phenomenon; and develops the aesthetic construct of sabor, central to Cuban music.Copub: Center for Black Music Research

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93944-8
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-xvi)

    • [PART I Introduction]
      (pp. 1-12)

      The question of whether there is an underlying unity to the Caribbean region has been a conundrum for many scholars. The people of the Caribbean basin—all the Antilles and some of the continental coastal areas that shape its perimeter—are usually characterized by their diversity: their languages, history, natural environment, cultural expression, political boundaries, and so on. Students of Caribbean literature bow to language differences by neatly separating Caribbean expression into the Anglophone, Francophone, and Hispanophone areas. Important historical records of the region are dispersed in repositories in Spain, France, England, and Holland, making it difficult for researchers to...

    • CHAPTER ONE The Salsa Concept
      (pp. 13-21)

      An analysis of the music forms known collectively as salsa provides a good starting point for the study of Cuban music. Beginning in the 1980 s and 1990s, musical styles from the Spanish Caribbean based largely on Afro-Cuban traditions enjoyed a boom in the United States. Performers such as Celia Cruz, Rubén Blades, and Eddie Palmieri received music awards. Films such asCross Over Dreams(1984),Fatal Attraction(1987), andThe Mambo Kings(1992) featured salsa dance bands. In the United States, this type of music had undergone several periods of development, from initial enclave status through sporadic cases at...

    • CHAPTER TWO Ontology of the Son
      (pp. 22-41)

      The beginning of the twenty-first century greets us with a worldwide boom of a Caribbean musical form that first gained international recognition at the beginning of the previous century: the Cubanson.The twentieth century witnessed the growth, spread, synthesis, and resynthesis of this popular genre. It provided the foundation for a number of dance trends, such as the 1930s rumba and the 1950 s mambo. Thesonbecame identified with Cuba’s nation and nationalism by both Cubans and non-Cubans. It catapulted the island’s music to a regionally hegemonic position in the Spanish-Caribbean islands and littoral.

      Born in Cuba, the...

    • CHAPTER THREE The Aesthetics of Sabor
      (pp. 42-58)

      Theson,and Cuban popular music as a whole, stands out as one of the magical cultural products of the twentieth century. Bebo Valdés might have called themuna rareza del siglo(an exceptional occurrence).¹ Certainly more than any other cultural form, music has been constructed as a synonym for Cuban national identity by Cubans and non-Cubans alike. Cuban musicians in the twentieth century developed and continue to develop today a unique aesthetic, amusicalianot based on fantasies but rather grounded in the quotidian, particular Cuban reality. This aesthetic is built around the concept ofsabor(roughly translated as...


    • [PART II Introduction]
      (pp. 59-70)

      The chapters in the second part of this book review the activities of a number of representative Cuban musicians who, in the period between 1950 and 1980, did much through their artistic activity to consolidate in the United States a musical genre known in its early stages as Afro-Cuban jazz and currently as Latin jazz.¹

      In recent years, public and academic interest in the study of Latin jazz has peaked. Since 1995 , a separate Grammy has been awarded for Latin jazz. A proliferation of instructional materials and specialized magazines focus on Latin jazz and salsa. Specialists, if not academics,...

    • CHAPTER FOUR Magic Mixture
      (pp. 71-82)

      In early 1995, a CD recording by Israel “Cachao” López received the coveted Grammy Award in the Tropical Latino category. In June of the same year, this Cuban bassist received a National Heritage Fellowship award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Later that month, he was featured at the Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl in California (fig.1). The increased visibility of this musician came on the heels of a widely acclaimed documentary about Cachao’s musical life,Como su ritmo no hay dos,produced by actor Andy Garcia; concerts at the Library of Congress; and appearances at festivals...

    • CHAPTER FIVE Drumming in Cuban
      (pp. 83-98)

      Mongo Santamaría can be credited with making the Cuban drum known as the conga (ortumbadora) into an integral part of U.S. music, whether jazz, rock-and-roll, soul, reggae, or other modern genres. No other percussionist achieved greater impact on the diffusion of Afro-Cuban folkloric music or recognition within mainstream jazz as well as through his own unique mixture of Cuban, jazz, and soul music. Following in the footsteps of Chano Pozo, Mongo’s labor, along with that of other percussionists such as Armando Peraza, Patato Valdés, Francisco Aguabella, and Cándido Camero, brought about a transformation in the traditional sound of jazz,...

    • CHAPTER SIX Lords of the Tambor
      (pp. 99-128)

      The development of percussion of Afro-Cuban origin in Latin jazz and other U.S. musics such as pop and funk after 1950 depends on the presence of several percussionists in addition to Mongo Santamaría, the subject of the previous chapter. Among nearly a dozen important Cuban drummers, four stand out. Their names are Armando Peraza, Carlos “Patato” Valdés, Francisco Aguabella, and Cándido Camero. As in the case of Mongo Santamaría, each of them possesses very distinct and personal characteristics as a drummer. And they all reached their pinnacle of success and visibility in different ways, in different U.S. cities, and, to...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN Chocolate Dreams
      (pp. 129-139)

      The name of Alfredo “Chocolate” Armenteros has become synonymous in the United States with the traditional, ortípico,style of Cuban trumpet playing. In contrast to jazz, which favors harmonic improvisation, the power and depth of Cuban rhythms is such that it defines the improvisational styles of melody instruments such as trumpets, flutes, trombones, saxophones, and so forth. By extension, melody instrumentalists in Latin jazz often incorporate rhythmic phrasing, diction, and improvisation in their compositions and performances. Of the countless fine Cuban melody instrumentalists, Chocolate presents one of the most interesting examples because of his unique musical history. Over the...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT The Taste of ¡Azúcar!
      (pp. 140-160)

      There is no doubt that Celia Cruz was a central figure for understanding the popularity of Cuban music, the growth of salsa, and, indirectly, the development of Latin jazz. The day Celia Cruz passed away—July 16, 2003, in New York City—millions of people throughout the world mourned her death. The pope, the king and queen of Spain, Latin American presidents, the mayor of New York City, the governor of New York, and both New York state senators expressed their condolences through official messages. On the day of her funeral, her remains were carried in a horse-drawn carriage for...

    (pp. 161-162)

    I have focused on popular dance rhythms in the foregoing chapters, as they are nationally and internationally the most widely known, and the most influential, aspects of Cuban music. But Cuban music is a vast and varied subject. The preceding analyses are but a first step in the task of exploring, analyzing, explaining, and enjoying it.

    A second step would be to develop and tie together a number of strands that have been merely hinted at in this book. For example, Cuban music has a strong instrumental tradition of forms designed not only for dancing but also for listening and...

  7. NOTES
    (pp. 163-178)
  8. INDEX
    (pp. 179-199)