Mario Bauza: swing era novelty and Afro-Cuban authenticity
Miller, Nathan Brad
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Introduced to jazz in his native Cuba, Mario Bauzá (1911-1993) immigrated to New York City in 1930 to take part in its active scene as an instrumentalist, and, by enhancing pre-existing musical practices with his arranging prowess, played an important role in the formulation of Afro-Cuban jazz. The Havana native earned impressive credentials as a member of Chick Webb's and Cab Calloway's ensembles in the 1930s and 1940s. With these groups he completed on-the-job performance training, held his first position as a musical director in the United States, and composed Swing Era big band charts. His prominence as a jazz arranger, however, is the result of works he later designed for Machito and His Afro-Cubans, which capitalize on Cuban instruments and rhythms. Many authors make reference to Bauzá's participation in both big band and Afro-Cuban jazz ensembles during the Swing Era, but in their limited prose they fail to detail accurately or quantify his contributions. I address this gap by illuminating differences between music from the Swing Era that utilizes Latin elements as a novelty and the arrangements of Bauzá that employ Afro-Cuban materials authentically. An accurate assessment of Bauzá's contributions to the creation of Afro-Cuban jazz will result from quantifying and qualifying the approach to Latin traditions in these two bodies of work and then realizing the similarities and differences between the two.
2007 Freely available theses (MU)