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Chano Pozo

Biography

One of the most revered Cuban drummers in history, Chano Pozo had a short but hugely influential career. Born in Havana, Cuba, Pozo played in a number of Cuban groups before relocating to New York in 1947. His reputation as an incendiary live performer preceded him, and soon he was playing with Dizzy Gillespie. Pozo played bongo and conga, introducing Afro-Cuban rhythmic techniques such as abacua. He became famous for spontaneously rising, slinging his drum over his shoulder (even sometimes removing his shirt), and playing as if he were part of a carnival group. More than just a drummer, he composed (with Gillespie's help) the Bebop standards "Manteca" and "Tin Tin Deo," songs that are firmly established as the cornerstones of Afro-Cuban Jazz. An enigmatic personality, his taste for the wild life came to an abrupt end in a Harlem bar in 1948, when he was shot to death.
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