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Restoring the Bronx-Cuba Music Connection
August 2017, Jazz on the Tube brought Havana jazz educator Camilo Moreira to New York City and the Bronx to experience US jazz and meet his Latin jazz “uncles” and “cousins” in the U.S. first hand for the first time. (Camilo has been up before but always with heavy work loads that didn’t permit him to do any of his own explorations.)
Bobby Sanabria kindly took us around the Bronx to learn about the mostly unknown history of this most important and under-appreciated hotbed for musical innovation in America. We also hit the clubs and other resources like the Performing Arts Library at Lincoln Center, the Bronx Music Heritage Center and the Schomburg Center in Harlem.
Here’s the text of the plaque Camilo is standing in front of in the first picture:
This neighborhood has been the incubator to more different styles of music than any other area in New York City. A home for Jazz, Doo Wop, R&B, and Latin music in the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s, the area continues to be a home to many of the innovators of Hip Hop.
On any given night from the 1940’s through the 60’s, one could see and hear jazz legends such as Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Maxine Sullivan, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Dexter Gordon, Charlie Parker, Helen Merrill, Herbie Hancock, Sonny Rollins, Nancy Wilson, Henry “Red” Allen and Elmo Hope perform in any one of the area’s many music venues.
These clubs, such as Blue Morocco, Club 845, The Tropicana, The McKinley Theater, Freddie’s, The Embassy Ballroom and The Hunt’s Point Palace also gave rise to Doo-Wop and R&B greats such as the Chantels, The Crickets, The Limelighters, Arthur Crier, The Chords, The Morrisania Revue, The Wrens, Mickey and Sylvia and the Jimmy Castor Bunch. Local Latin Jazz and Salsa stars who could also be heard here included Tito Puente, Tito Rodriguez, Machito, Celia Cruz and Mongo Santamaria.
These celebrated musicians lived, worked and played here and pioneered new genres of music and dance that continue to inspire future generations.
More about Camilo Moriera
More about Bobby Sanabria
More about Mike Amadeo
– Ken McCarthy
Jazz on the Tube