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by Seth Colter Walls

April 24, 2013

Jazz 101: Latin Tinges

by Seth Colter Walls  |  April 24, 2013

Jazz history is massive enough at this point to be a touch intimidating. With so many box sets and so many compilations to choose from, where to start? We've got you covered, era by era, with our Jazz 101 series, which you can follow here. Each daily playlist offers up five-star performances, and tips you off to albums with plenty more gold left to explore after the intro course is over. Enjoy.

As far back as raggin' New Orleans, jazz composers used what Jelly Roll Morton called the "Spanish tinge" in order to create their music. (Duke Ellington's "Caravan," written with Juan Tizol, was an early attempt at grafting the Latin tradition onto jazz.) But in the late 1940s, when Dizzy Gillespie collaborated with Cuban musicians like Chano Poza, a new hybrid was born: the Afro-Cuban form of Latin jazz. See "Manteca" to hear the pyrotechnics based on the clave rhythm, and go on to explore other proto-Latin Jazz heavyweights like Machito and Tito Puente (the latter of whom repaid Ellington's attentions with a cover of "Take the A Train").

It wouldn't take long for the other major strain of Latin jazz to make a strong move for the public's affections. In the '50s, the Afro-Brazilian tradition, driven by samba and bossa nova numbers, was advanced chiefly by the peerless compositions of Antonio Carlos Jobim (whose works were featured on albums by Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto). Today, powerhouses like Bobby Sanabria carry the Latin jazz tradition forward. Check the appended playlist to get a sampling of tunes that, whether chilled out or ecstatic in mood, remain rhythmically undeniable.

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