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This incredible series of complete album transcriptions by Erik Veldkamp is a study of the Afro-Cuban style of trumpet playing. Machito’s band is the quintessential example of the genre, and his trumpeters, from Alfredo “Chocolate” Armenteros, and (on this album) “Doc” Cheatham, Joe Livramento, and Joe Newman showcase how to articulate, swing, and groove over a series of tunes that are just dripping with Afro-Cuban style.
Machito’s “Kenya” is an iconic album that has long been considered a classic of the Latin jazz genre. Released in 1957, the album features Machito and his orchestra performing a series of thrilling and dynamic compositions that blend Afro-Cuban rhythms with jazz harmonies and improvisation.
These books each include the full lead trumpet part, plus any trumpet solos featured in the tunes. You can follow along with the original albums and hear exactly how they are meant to be played.
Below you will find a full writeup on the album, plus the song list. To the left you can find some samples, and above you can grab an immediate digital download.
1. Wild Jungle
2. Congo Mulence
8. Blues a La Machito 9. Conversation 10. Tin Tin Deo
11. Minor Rama
Classic Afro-Cuban jazz albums are not so plentiful that any can escape being called “essential.” By 1958 the idiom had lost its original spontaneity and excitement, but new life had come from the recording possibilities of high-fidelity stereo. Kenya belongs to the style typified by Tito Puente’s great work for Victor in this period. There are colorful African masks on the jacket, the obligatory dozen tight arrangements, three first-call percussionists, and a horn section guaranteed to be heard at least from one edge of Manhattan to the other. For all its homegrown, New York credibility, Kenya sounds very much like 1950s Hollywood. Television and film crime dramas of the period relied heavily on Latin and jazz, which helped to popularize Afro-Cuban jazz. The bombastic horns created suspense and excitement, while the bongos and congas signaled the exoticism and feverishness of a world slipping out of control. But the old complaint about Afro-Cuban jazz is the same as for other Hollywood jazz and even standard pop albums of the period: The tight arrangements and rhythm are fine for ensemble playing, but the horn solos fail to communicate the individualism and passion one expects from jazz.
Consequently the most successful pieces, such as “Manteca,” have a live, gritty sound, like a riot in an old New York nightclub. Kenya ranges in tempo from a Cuban blues “Blues á la Machito,” to a fast rumba “Wild Jungle.” Everything else falls between these, but mostly on the upbeat side. “Congo Mulence” is played in the “bata” style (though probably without bata drums), and “Tin Tin Deo” is the Chano Pozo classic. “Minor Rama” and “Tuturato” are the most adventurous pieces.