When Prudencio Mario Bauzá stepped off the boat from Havana onto the docks in New York, in 1930, he brought with him a sophisticated knowledge of Cuban music, and a respect and penchant for American jazz. He would be a key figure in the integration of both musical principals and come to be known as “the father of Latin Jazz”.
Born in the Cayo Hueso section of La Habana, Cuba, on Apr. 28, 1911, Mario had a special musical talent, and began formal lessons as a child. He studied music at the Municipal Academy of Cuba, and by the age of nine was clarinetist at the Havana Philharmonic Orchestra, where he remained for three years. He underwent intensive tutoring under Maestro Antonio Maria Romeu, joining his band Charanga Francesa and in 1925 traveled to New York with them to record. He had just turned fourteen years old! Upon his return to Cuba, he trained and practiced trumpet under Lázaro Herrera, a stellar trumpet master for the Septeto Nacional, the finest band on the island.