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Latin Music USA

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Sarah Murphy Sarah Murphy | 11:17 UK time, Thursday, 28 January 2010


Latin Music has long had an influence on popular music of the day, from the Afro-Cuban jazz of Mario Bauza in the 1940s right through to Santana bringing a Latin sound to the rock mainstream at Woodstock in 1969.

This Friday (January 29) BBC Four delves into the story of Latin Music, with the first in its four-part series Latin Music USA. It charts why the United States fell in love with the Latin sound and its impact on American culture and society.

A co-production with WGBH, Latin Music USA first screened on PBS in the US and enlightened viewers with its story of how Latin music has evolved. Exploring jazz, country, mambo, salsa, Chicano rock, Tejano, right up to contemporary Latin pop, the series also looks at how Latin music has had a seminal influence on rock n roll. The New York Times points out how in this first episode, "snippets of hits by the Beatles... including..."Day Tripper," are juxtaposed with identical cha-cha or mambo riffs recorded years earlier and all but forgotten."

Part one of the programme, East Side Story, takes us back to when the Afro-Cuban sound began to have an impact on music in the 1940's and 1950's. Mario Bauza and Cuban bandleader Machito had an enormous impact on the New York jazz scene and in turn, Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie. Meanwhile in Cuba, the Rumba and Mambo captivated tourists in the Mafia-owned nightclubs. The Mambo Kings, among them Tito Puente and Tito Rodriguez, became the royalty of dancehalls frequented by movie stars, dancers and a mix of New Yorkers for whom "it was the beginning of integration".

Episode 1 Trailer

With the arrival of Castro in Cuba, in 1959, the flow of rhythms to the USA dried up and big bands gave way to "four boys and a drum kit". Carlos Santana describes how his own Latin-style rock music is part of a tradition dating back to Machito, Puente and Bauza. With his stunning performance at Woodstock in 1969, Santana helped place Latin music in the mainstream, mirroring the integration of Latinos within the USA.

Santana at Woodstock in 1969

Latin Music USA begins on Friday January 29 at 9pm on BBC Four. You can watch more videos and find out more about the series on the BBC's Latin Music USA website.


  • Comment number 1.

    Whilst immensely enjoying the start of this fabulous & most worthy series, I couldn't help baulking at the glaring howler at the opening of the "The Big 3 Palladium Orchestra at The Barbican".
    As the first of the legendary trio of bandleaders was introduced by voice-over, there, instead of Machito as announced, was a photo of Dizzy Gillespie... with his trumpet even visible!

  • Comment number 2.

    hi, i just saw episode one of Latin Music USA - wow so so great !!! thanks so much to whoever made this show !!

    I have a question though, there is a piece of music featured in the show by Mario Bauza which is described in voice over as being called "Tanga" at 18mins 45 seconds - it's being described as "a tidal wave of sound - one one chord" etc. I'm not familiar with Mario Bauza's catalog and am wondering how I can buy this track. A search of the i-tunes store reveals an album called Tanga by Mario Bauza but it has no song called Tanga - but it has 5 songs with "(Tanga)" written in brackets after the titles - "Cuban Lullaby (Tanga)" - "Mambo (Tanga)" - "Afro Cuban Ritual (Tanga)" - "Bolero (Tanga)" & "Rumba Abierta (Tanga)" - but I can't tell from listening to the previews on i-tunes which, if any, of these is the song in the documentary. Anyone know ? Or know the name of the album that the song in the documentary is on ?

    thanks !!

  • Comment number 3.

    Who can not fall in love of with the Latin sound? These series are awesome!


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