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Background informationMachito_header_cell_0_1_0
Birth nameMachito_header_cell_0_2_0 Francisco Raúl Gutiérrez GrilloMachito_cell_0_2_1
Also known asMachito_header_cell_0_3_0 Frank GrilloMachito_cell_0_3_1
BornMachito_header_cell_0_4_0 c. (1909-12-03)December 3, 1909Machito_cell_0_4_1
OriginMachito_header_cell_0_5_0 Havana, CubaMachito_cell_0_5_1
DiedMachito_header_cell_0_6_0 April 15, 1984(1984-04-15) (aged 74)


GenresMachito_header_cell_0_7_0 Machito_cell_0_7_1
InstrumentsMachito_header_cell_0_8_0 Machito_cell_0_8_1
Years activeMachito_header_cell_0_9_0 1928–1984Machito_cell_0_9_1
Associated actsMachito_header_cell_0_10_0 Afro-CubansMachito_cell_0_10_1

Machito (born Francisco Raúl Gutiérrez Grillo, December 3, 1909 – April 15, 1984) was a Latin jazz musician who helped refine Afro-Cuban jazz and create both Cubop and salsa music. Machito_sentence_0

He was raised in Havana with the singer Graciela, his foster sister. Machito_sentence_1

In New York City, Machito formed the Afro-Cubans in 1940, and with Mario Bauzá as musical director, brought together Cuban rhythms and big band arrangements in one group. Machito_sentence_2

He made numerous recordings from the 1940s to the 1980s, many with Graciela as singer. Machito_sentence_3

Machito changed to a smaller ensemble format in 1975, touring Europe extensively. Machito_sentence_4

He brought his son and daughter into the band, and received a Grammy Award in 1983, one year before he died. Machito_sentence_5

Machito's music had an effect on the careers of many musicians who played in the Afro-Cubans over the years, and on those who were attracted to Latin jazz after hearing him. Machito_sentence_6

George Shearing, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and Stan Kenton credited Machito as an influence. Machito_sentence_7

An intersection in East Harlem is named "Machito Square" in his honor. Machito_sentence_8

Early life Machito_section_0

Machito gave conflicting accounts of his birth. Machito_sentence_9

He sometimes said he was a native Cuban from Havana. Machito_sentence_10

Other accounts place his birth in Tampa, Florida, making him an American of Cuban ancestry. Machito_sentence_11

He may have been born in 1908 in the Jesús María district of Havana or in Tampa, 1909 in the Marianao Beach district of Havana or in Tampa, 1912 in Tampa or Havana, or even 1915 in Havana. Machito_sentence_12

Regardless of his place of birth, Machito was raised from an early age in the Jesús María district of Havana, where his foster sister Graciela was born August 23, 1915. Machito_sentence_13

Her parents raised both of them. Machito_sentence_14

Young Francisco Raúl Gutiérrez Grillo, the son of a cigar manufacturer, was nicknamed "Macho" as a child because he was the first son born to his parents after they had three daughters. Machito_sentence_15

In his teens and twenties in Cuba, "Macho" became a professional musician, playing in several ensembles from 1928 to 1937. Machito_sentence_16

Career Machito_section_1

Macho moved to New York City in 1937 as a vocalist with Las Estrellas Habaneras (Havana Stars). Machito_sentence_17

He worked with several Latin artists and orchestras in the late 1930s, recording with Conjunto Moderno, Cuarteto Caney, Orchestra Siboney, and the bandleader Xavier Cugat. Machito_sentence_18

After an earlier attempt to launch a band with Mario Bauzá, in 1940 he founded the Afro-Cubans, and conducted their first rehearsal on December 3 at the Park Palace Ballroom located at W. 110th Street in Harlem. Machito_sentence_19

A big band-style brass section with trumpets and saxes was backed by a trap drum, piano, bass and a Cuban bongo. Machito_sentence_20

Several weeks later, in early January 1941, Machito took on Mario Bauzá as musical director; a role he retained for 34 years. Machito_sentence_21

As an instrumentalist, Bauza played trumpet and alto saxophone. Machito_sentence_22

The band had an early hit with "Sopa de Pichon" in 1941. Machito_sentence_23

Its title is slang for "pigeon soup", a Puerto Rican joke about nearly starving as an immigrant in New York. Machito_sentence_24

Machito and the Afro-Cubans, were among the first to fuse Afro-Cuban rhythms with jazz improvisation and arrangements for a big band. Machito_sentence_25

Machito was the front man and maraca player of the Afro Cubans, while Bauza determined the character of the band as musical director. Machito_sentence_26

Bauza, Machito's brother-in-law from his marriage to Machito's sister Estela, hired jazz-oriented arrangers and musicians to replace the band's founding member and original arranger, Joseph "Pin" Madera, who had been drafted into the U.S. Military and served in World War II. Machito_sentence_27

As a result, Machito's music greatly inspired such United States jazz musicians as Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and Stan Kenton. Machito_sentence_28

One of the items in the Kenton orchestra's repertoire was an idiomatic Afro-Cuban number known as "Machito," composed by Stan Kenton with Pete Rugolo and released as a Capitol 78 in 1947. Machito_sentence_29

In April 1943 during World War II, Machito was drafted into the United States Army. Machito_sentence_30

After a few months of training, he suffered a leg injury and was discharged in October. Machito_sentence_31

Earlier, anticipating a long absence of the band's leader, Bauza had sent for Machito's younger foster sister Graciela, who traveled to New York from Havana where she had been touring with El Trio Garcia, and singing lead with the all-female Orquesta Anacaona. Machito_sentence_32

Graciela served as the lead singer of the Afro-Cubans for a year before Machito returned to front the band. Machito_sentence_33

Graciela stayed on—at performances, the two singers alternated solo songs and created duets such as "Si Si No No" and "La Paella". Machito_sentence_34

Adding to the percussion, Graciela played claves alongside Machito's maracas. Machito_sentence_35

Beginning in 1947, teenager Willie Bobo helped move the band's gear to gigs in Upper Manhattan, just so he could watch them play. Machito_sentence_36

Near the end of the evening, if there were no musician's union leaders in sight (he was underage), he borrowed bongos from José Mangual and played with the band. Machito_sentence_37

Later, Machito helped him get positions in other Latin bands. Machito_sentence_38

Many years later, George Shearing pointed to Machito and Willie Bobo as two musicians who helped him learn "what Latin music was about". Machito_sentence_39

Machito accepted a recording date with Stan Kenton in December 1947, playing maracas on the tune "The Peanut Vendor", which was a hit for Kenton. Machito_sentence_40

Other Afro-Cubans at the date were Carlos Vidal on congas and José Mangual on timbales. Machito_sentence_41

The next month, the bands of both Kenton and Machito shared the stage at The Town Hall, New York setting off a surging interest in Cubop. Machito_sentence_42

Machito named that style of music when he recorded an arrangement of Bauza's "Tanga" with the new title "Cubop City" in 1948. Machito_sentence_43

Machito was sought after by record producers, and in his live shows he featured soloists Howard McGhee on trumpet and Brew Moore on tenor sax. Machito_sentence_44

Late in 1948, he took to the studio with Charlie Parker, and Flip Phillips on tenor sax. Machito_sentence_45

Machito's star was ascendant, and he played Carnegie Hall on February 11, 1949, on a bill including Duke Ellington, Lester Young, Bud Powell and Coleman Hawkins. Machito_sentence_46

An album derived from 78 sides recorded in 1948 and 1949 was issued: Mucho Macho. Machito_sentence_47

For these recordings, the 14-piece band had three trumpeters (including Bauza), four saxophonists, piano player René Hernández, a bass player, and three percussionists playing bongos, congas and timbales, augmented by Graciela on claves and Machito himself on maracas. Machito_sentence_48

A subsequent release was Tremendo Cumban featuring arrangements by pianist Hernández and vocal additions from the Rugual Brothers. Machito_sentence_49

This recording includes Mitch Miller playing oboe on one tune, "Oboe Mambo". Machito_sentence_50

Each summer from the mid-1940s to the late 1960s, a period of 22 years, Machito and his band played a ten-week engagement at the Concord Resort Hotel in the Catskills. Machito_sentence_51

Machito's album Vacation at the Concord was issued in 1958 as a representative experience of an evening's performance, but it was not recorded at the resort. Machito_sentence_52

Five-year-old Mario Grillo learned to play the timbales during the 1961 summer series, with lessons from Uba Nieto, then returned to New York with his father's band and played his first gig, taking a single timbales solo at the Palladium Ballroom while standing on a chair next to Tito Puente. Machito_sentence_53

In 1957, Machito recorded the album Kenya, with mostly original songs by A.K. Machito_sentence_54 Salim, or Hernández collaborating with Bauza. Machito_sentence_55

The only cover tune was "Tin Tin Deo" by Chano Pozo. Machito_sentence_56

Guest musicians include Doc Cheatham and Joe Newman on trumpet, Cannonball Adderley on alto sax, and Eddie Bert on trombone. Machito_sentence_57

Band regular and arranger band Ray Santos played tenor sax on the album as well. Machito_sentence_58

A seven-man percussion section (including Candido Camero and Carlos "Patato" Valdes) rounds it out. Machito_sentence_59

The album has shown significant longevity: a half century after its release it was named by Robert Dimery in his book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. Machito_sentence_60

Smaller format Machito_section_2

In 1975, Machito's son Mario Grillo, known as "Machito Jr", joined the band for its recording with Dizzy Gillespie, Afro-Cuban Jazz Moods; the album, featuring arrangements by Chico O'Farrill, was nominated for a Grammy Award. Machito_sentence_61

Later in 1975, Machito determined that he would accept an invitation to tour Europe with a smaller eight-piece ensemble. Machito_sentence_62

Bauza quit; he had grave doubts that such an enterprise would work musically. Machito_sentence_63

Graciela left as well. Machito_sentence_64

The tour and the smaller band proved very successful; the start of perennial tours of Europe. Machito_sentence_65

(Bauza admitted, years later, that he had acted too hastily.) Machito_sentence_66

Mario Grillo took over the duties of musical director in 1977. Machito_sentence_67

That year, the band earned another Grammy nomination for Fireworks—a change of tone signaled by the appearance of Lalo Rodríguez as co-lead singer and composer of three tunes. Machito_sentence_68

Further European tours were undertaken using the band name "Machito and his Salsa Big Band", and Machito's daughter Paula Grillo carried female lead vocals, stepping into Graciela's shoes. Machito_sentence_69

When the band appeared in London in February 1982, they accepted long-term engagements, making London their "home base". Machito_sentence_70

At Avery Fisher Hall in 1978, Machito and his band played for the New York portion of the Newport Jazz Festival. Machito_sentence_71

Dizzy Gillespie soloed with the band. Machito_sentence_72

Following his set, Machito and Tito Puente both brought their bands to the stage. Machito_sentence_73

The two bands played the song "Mamba Adonis" for 15 minutes, a tune that was later renamed "Machito Forever" by Puente. Machito_sentence_74

Subsequently, Machito's band and Gillespie finished the set with the tune "Manteca", an arrangement from 1948. Machito_sentence_75

In 1983, Machito won a Grammy Award in the Best Latin Recording category for Machito & His Salsa Big Band '82. Machito_sentence_76

The recording was made in the Netherlands in about four hours, mostly one take per tune. Machito_sentence_77

Notable innovations Machito_section_3

Creation of Latin jazz Machito_section_4

The first jazz song to be overtly based in-clave was "Tanga" (1942) composed by Mario Bauza and recorded by Machito and his Afro-Cubans. Machito_sentence_78

The right hand of the "Tanga" piano guajeo is in the style known as ponchando, a type of non-arpeggiated guajeo using block chords. Machito_sentence_79

The sequence of attack-points is emphasized, rather than a sequence of different pitches. Machito_sentence_80

As a form of accompaniment it can be played in a strictly repetitive fashion or as a varied motif akin to jazz comping. Machito_sentence_81

The following example is in the style of a 1949 recording by Machito. Machito_sentence_82

2‐3 clave, piano by René Hernández. Machito_sentence_83

Ten innovations Machito_section_5

From one side of clave to the other Machito_section_6

The 3-2/2-3 concept and terminology was developed in New York City during the 1940s by Cuban-born Mario Bauza while he was music director of Machito and His Afro-Cubans. Machito_sentence_84

Bauzá was a master at moving the song from one side of clave to the other. Machito_sentence_85

The following melodic excerpt is taken from the opening verses of "Que vengan los rumberos" by Machito and his Afro-Cubans. Machito_sentence_86

The melody goes from one side of clave to the other and then back. Machito_sentence_87

A measure of 2/4 moves the chord progression from the two-side (2-3), to the three-side (3-2). Machito_sentence_88

Later, another measure of 2/4 moves the start of the chord progression back to two-side (2-3). Machito_sentence_89

Clap clave along with the excerpt in order to hear and feel the melody move from one side to the other. Machito_sentence_90

Personal life Machito_section_7

Machito was somewhat short in stature, at 5 feet 4 inches (1.63 m) in height. Machito_sentence_91

A lifelong Roman Catholic, he married Puerto Rican Hilda Torres on January 17, 1940, at which time he changed his nickname from "Macho" to "Machito". Machito_sentence_92

The cross-national marriage served as a sign to New York Latinos that it was possible to attain a sense of pan-Latino brotherhood. Machito_sentence_93

Frank and Hilda Grillo produced five children: Martha (1941), Frank Jr (1943), Barbara (1948), Mario (1956) and Paula. Machito_sentence_94

The family lived in Spanish Harlem at 112th Street and Second Avenue, where Machito enjoyed cooking for his children, writing the occasional song such as "Sopa de Pichon" while working in the kitchen. Machito_sentence_95

Machito suffered a stroke before a concert in London, England in 1984, collapsing while waiting to go on stage at Ronnie Scott's club. Machito_sentence_96

He died four days later on April 19, 1984, at University College Hospital in London. Machito_sentence_97

His son Mario carried forward the legacy by leading The Machito Orchestra after his father's death. Machito_sentence_98

His daughter Paula, though dedicating her life to scholarly studies, has occasionally fronted the group as its singer. Machito_sentence_99

Mario Bauza died in 1993. Machito_sentence_100

Hilda Grillo, a patron of Latin music after her husband's death, died in July 1997. Machito_sentence_101

Having never married, Graciela died in April 2010 at the age of 94. Machito_sentence_102

Legacy Machito_section_8

In 1985, New York mayor Ed Koch named the intersection of East 111th Street and Third Avenue "Machito Square", a location in Spanish Harlem which is one block from East 110th Street, renamed "Tito Puente Way" after the 2000 death of Tito Puente. Machito_sentence_103

Machito lived as a young adult in an apartment on the southwest corner of the intersection. Machito_sentence_104

A documentary film by Carlo Ortiz, Machito: A Latin Jazz Legacy, was released in 1987, showing an elderly Machito and his wife in their Bronx apartment, as well as archival footage from performances in the 1940s and afterward. Machito_sentence_105

Selected discography Machito_section_9

As leader Machito_section_10


  • Mucho Macho Machito (Clef, 1948–1949)Machito_item_0_0
  • Kenya (Roulette, 1957)Machito_item_0_1
  • Vacation at the Concord (Verve, 1958)Machito_item_0_2
  • Machito with Flute to Boot (Roulette, 1959)Machito_item_0_3
  • Machito at the Crescendo (GNP Crescendo, 1961)Machito_item_0_4
  • Machito!!! (Timeless, 1983)Machito_item_0_5

As sideman Machito_section_11


See also Machito_section_12


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: