Machito and his Afro Cubans was an absolute powerhouse unit that lay the foundation for Latin Jazz, a seminal force in the original fusion of Cuban clave rhythms and the melodies and harmonies of jazz. They were the original Mambo Kings in New York in the ‘40’s and are considered the most innovative and influential orchestra in the genre.
Francisco Gutierrez Grillo was born in Havana, Cuba on Apr16, 1908. He set out to be a singer, and music became his life. He acquired the nickname Machito, as a youngster, though he was called Macho by his close friends. He sang in many local groups, and also became a very proficient clave and maraca player, essential instruments in Cuban music. He relocated to New York in 1937, where he immediately found work singing, and landed in Conjunto Moderno, with whom he made his first recordings. He moved on to the Conjunto Caney, and recorded with them until 1939. Became lead singer for pianist Noro Morales, did a short stint with Xavier Cugat, recording with both.
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