Afro-Cuban jazz emerged in the United States as part of the bop revolution. With the advent of bop, jazz moved away from the commercialism that plagued the genre in the 1930s. Bop musicians sought to establish jazz as an abstract genre not tied directly to dancing. Cuban music was undergoing a revolution led by a group of musicians. This chapter provides a biographical essay on a prominent Cuban musician, Cachao, whose contribution to Cuban jazz increased its appeal to dancers. His contributions are part of a new movement in musical forms that do not fit comfortably within artificial formulations aimed at an illusory conceptual purity. Cachao's music represents a mixture of classical, popular, and folk; of European and African; of dancing and listening. A humble and highly gifted performer and composer, Cachao is a living encyclopedia of traditional Caribbean forms. He is credited with taking an already existing, exciting hybrid—a Cuban musical tradition that had developed its own instruments, nomenclature, and idioms—and stirring in new elements, expanding the tradition's previous scope, and propelling it beyond the Caribbean. Cachao's recordings are a veritable clinic for students of both Cuban dance and Latin jazz traditions.
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