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Machito's contribution to the development of Afro-Cuban Jazz can not be overstated. His band, the Afro-Cuban Salseros, were the first to fuse jazz with Afro-Cuban rhythm. The band's arrangements broke new ground with their use of contrasting rhythmic figures and dynamic contrast. Musical director, lead trumpeter and cousin Mario Bauza used the band's three trumpets to achieve piercing climaxes, while the saxophone section offered lush harmonies and counterpoint. Cutting-edge solo improvisations grounded themselves in the Bop innovations of Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, both of whom served stints in the band themselves.The band maintained a rock-solid foundation in the traditional Cuban rhythmic pattern known as the "clave." Machito stood at the head of this musical juggernaut, leading the band with his maracas and rich, vibrato-laden baritone. This musical hybrid gave rise to a dance craze which was to last over a decade. Critics and fans labeled the sound "Mambo," which, in the Yoruba language, means "important matter." An important matter, indeed.
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