Obituary: Mario Bauza

Mario Bauza, trumpeter, saxophonist, bandleader: born Havana 28 April 1911; married; died New York 11 July 1993.

DIZZY GILLESPIE befriended Mario Bauza soon after Bauza arrived in New York from Cuba in 1930. It was natural then in 1939 when Bauza wanted a night off from his work in the trumpet section of Cab Calloway's band that he should give his uniform to Gillespie. Without Calloway's previous knowledge, Gillespie, then little known, simply put on the uniform and sat in. Calloway said nothing. Gillespie played well and Calloway liked what he heard. Gillespie stayed with the band for the next two years.

Although never a notable soloist, Bauza was a natural musician who at one time and another played trumpet, clarinets, oboe and alto saxophone. His career began when, still a teenager, he played bass clarinet with the Havana Symphony Orchestra and clarinet in the local night-clubs. He befriended Machito, later to become an eminent Latin bandleader, and the two played in Havana in a teenage orchestra led by Jovenes de Redencion.

Drawn by the exciting music scene in New York, Bauza moved there in 1931 and taught himself to play the trumpet in two weeks. After three years he became musical director in the Chick Webb band, where he had a hand in discovering Ella Fitzgerald. He married Machito's sister Graciela in 1938 and played with the bands of Fletcher Henderson and Don Redman before joining Calloway in 1939.

Gillespie had always had an interest in Cuban music, and Bauza had already experimented with fusing the Cuban rhythms with jazz improvisation. The two men worked on the idea whilst with Calloway, and it came to maturity when Gillespie's spectacular big band of the Forties featured, on Bauza's recommendation, the Cuban percussionist Chano Pozo. It was obvious that the wild Cuban music with its complex rhythms would work well with jazz. The problems at first were that some jazz soloists were overwhelmed by the battering from the rhythm section. Gillespie and his musicians took naturally to the new style.

Bauza became musical director of Machito's Afro Cubans in 1941 and stayed with the hand until the two men finally fell out in 1976. Bauza was largely responsible for the band's success. He hired black jazz arrangers to give jazz voicings to the Cuban music played by the band and arranged for it to record with, at various times, Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Flip Phillips, Howard McGhee, Cannonball Adderley and Johnny Griffin among others.

When he left Machito, Bauza formed his Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, starring the trumpeter Victor Paz and the conga player Carlos 'Patato' Valdez. This band eventually rode the tide of salsa, a remorseless Cuban music with fixed and ultra-loud dynamics, which had for many years been hugely popular in New York and has now spread worldwide.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

HR Manager - Edgware, London - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - Edgware, Lon...

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Talent Manager / HR Manager - central London - £50,000

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Talent / Learning & Development Mana...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week