MUSIC CLIP - OSCAR PETERSON, “MOONGLOW”
Welcome to Afterglow, I’m your host, Mark Chilla.
This month marks National Hispanic Heritage Month, so on this week’s program, I thought I would salute the influence of Latin American music on jazz and pop from the 1940s and 50s. Latin rhythms became an essential ingredient in early jazz, and so it’s natural that many American singers would seek out that dynamic percussion and even some authentic Latin American songs. Coming up, we’ll hear how some notable singers adopted the Latin beat, including Peggy Lee, Nat King Cole, Anita O’Day, and more.
It’s Latin Jazz in American Song, coming up next on Afterglow
MUSIC - MEL TORME, “FRENESI”
MUSIC - MEL TORME, “ADIOS”
Two songs from the 1959 album ¡Olé Tormé!: Mel Tormé Goes South of the Border with Billy May. Just now, we heard the Enric Madriguera song "Adios,” a Latin American hit from 1931. And before that the 1940 Latin American hit song “Frenesi,” written by Alberto Domínguez.
MUSIC CLIP - ARTIE SHAW AND HIS ORCHESTRA, “AFRO-CUBANA”
Mark Chilla here on Afterglow. On this show, I’m exploring the influence of Latin American music on jazz and pop singers of the mid 20th-century.
To start, a little disclaimer: one thing I will not be doing much of this hour is featuring many authentic Latin American singers from this era, like Desi Arnaz, Beny Moré, or Celia Cruz. And that’s not because I’m trying to whitewash Latin American music or diminish the work of these musicians—it’s mostly because I don’t know a lot of it. I’ve been reading several books about it this month, including Ed Morales’s The Latin Beat. But Latin American jazz and pop is still really outside of my “expertise,” however you may define that. I have a lot more reading and learning to do (not to mention CD collecting and listening to do) before I’d feel comfortable speaking with any authority on the vast array of singers and musicians coming out of Latin American countries. So, instead this hour, I want to talk about how Latin American music did influence those great American jazz and pop singers I do know something about.
If anyone out there listening does know a lot about Latin American singers from the 1940s and 50s, and has any resources to share, please let me know. This way, I can hopefully feature these singers in a future episode.
MUSIC CLIP - JELLY ROLL MORTON, “SPANISH SWAT”
In many ways, a look at the influence of Latin music in jazz and pop is easy, because it’s so prevalent. The clave rhythm, and various Afro-Cuban dances (like the habanera, the son, the rumba) worked their way from Havana to New Orleans, infusing themselves to the very earliest pieces of jazz music. Jelly Roll Morton, one of jazz’s originators, called it the, quote, “Spanish tinge,” and considered it one of the key ingredients to the new genre.
MUSIC CLIP - STAN KENTON, “PEANUT VENDOR”
Cuban music was one of the first Latin imports to make a splash in New York. In 1930, the Cuban bandleader Don Azpiazu had a hit with the song “El Manicero” aka “The Peanut Vendor,” which became popular with many of the American jazz ensembles at the time.
Here’s a recording from that same year featuring American artist Louis Armstrong. This is Armstrong and his Sebastian New Cotton Club Orchestra in 1930 with “The Peanut Vendor” on Afterglow
MUSIC - LOUIS ARMSTRONG, “THE PEANUT VENDOR”
MUSIC - LOUIS ARMSTRONG, “LA CUCARACHA”
Louis Armstrong with two early jazz versions of two traditionally Latin American song. Just now, we heard him in 1936 with his version of the Mexican folk song “La Cucaracha,” “The Cockroach.” And before that, in 1930 with his version of the Cuban standard “El Manicero” “The Peanut Vendor.”
MUSIC CLIP - CLAUDE THORNHILL AND HIS ORCHESTRA, “BEGIN THE BEGUINE”
Latin music worked its way into the big band era as well. The rhumba in particular, a popular Cuban Dance rhythm, worked its way into dance halls around New York City, and into the repertoires of dance bands. Bandleaders would adapt existing songs with a rhumba beat, songwriters would write new songs featuring these Cuban rhythms, and some would even adopt more traditional Spanish and Latin American songs into their repertoire.
MUSIC CLIP - ARTIE SHAW AND HIS ORCHESTRA, “BEGIN THE BEGUINE”
One of the most interesting cases is the 1935 Cole Porter song “Begin The Beguine,” written for the musical Jubilee. The “beguine” is a Caribbean dance form, similar to a Cuban rumba. Most dance orchestras, like the famous one by Artie Shaw in 1938, eschewed the rumba rhythms for more standard swing rhythms. However, the Spanish-born Cuban bandleader Xavier Cugat embraced that rhumba beat in his version from a few years earlier in 1935.
Let’s hear that now. This is bandleader Xavier Cugat and vocalist Don Reid with Cole Porter’s “Begin The Beguine,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - XAVIER CUGAT, “BEGIN THE BEGUINE”
MUSIC - JIMMY DORSEY, “AMAPOLA”
The Spanish song “Amapola,” sung there in a rumba style by Helen O'Connell and Bob Eberly along with Jimmy Doresy’s Orchestra, a hit recording from 1941. Before that, Cuban bandleader Xavier Cugat and his 1935 rumba version of Cole Porter’s “Begin The Beguine.”
MUSIC CLIP - PÉREZ PRADO, “CHERRY PINK AND APPLE BLOSSOM WHITE”
Throughout the 1940s and 50s, various Latin American dances and genres popped up from time to time in American pop, creating their own little bubbles of individual “crazes.” In addition to the rhumba, there was the cha-cha-cha, the mambo, the bolero, and the calypso. These crazes made stars out of bandleaders like Perez Prado and Tito Puente, singers like Harry Belafonte, and provided the occasional Latin American novelty hit for Bing Crosby or the Andrews Sisters. It also helped establish a thriving market for authentic Latin American music for an actual Latin American audience both in the U.S. and outside of it.
MUSIC CLIP - KING COLE TRIO, FEAT. JACK COSTANZO, “RHUMBA BLUES”
By the late 1950s, many jazz and pop singers tried to tap into this market, most notably Nat King Cole. In 1958, after Cole found himself unable to get back into the jukebox market, he made a play for the Latin American market, recording several albums of all Spanish-language songs, including the 1958 album Cole Espanol.
Cole had been incorporating Afro-Cuban rhythms into his music for almost a decade at this point. The bongo player Jack Costanzo added a Latin Beat to many of Cole’s trio recordings from the early 1950s. But on this album, he took it one step further, by learning the Spanish language phonetically. The album proved to be a success, hitting the top 20 of the Billboard chart. It spawned lots of imitators (many of which I’ll play later this hour), and even earned a place in the Latin Grammy Hall of Fame.
Here are a few of Nat King Cole’s spanish-language songs now, beginning with the Cuban song “El bodeguero” (The Grocer's Cha-Cha), on Afterglow.
MUSIC - NAT KING COLE, “EL BODEGUERO (GROCER'S CHA-CHA)"
MUSIC - NAT KING COLE, “PERFIDIA”
Two Spanish language songs sung by Nat King Cole. Just now, the Mexican standard “Perfidia” written by Alberto Dominguez. That comes from Cole’s 1959 album A Mis Amigos, recorded in Rio De Janeiro. Before that, the Cuban “El bodeguero” (The Grocer's Cha-Cha). That comes from his 1958 album Cole Espanol, which was partly recorded in Cuba.
Cole Espanol was primarily aimed at the Latin American market. And, the success of the album spawned many imitators. However, these imitators were more about adopting the Latin American rhythms than trying to record authentic Latin American music for a Latin American audience. Take for instance the 1960 album Latin ala Lee from the one and only Peggy Lee.
Back in the 1940s, Lee wrote her own Spanish-adjacent novelty song “Mañana (Is Soon Enough for Me),” which was not necessarily a shining moment in cross-cultural inspiration.
MUSIC CLIP - PEGGY LEE AND DAVE BARBOUR, “MAÑANA (IS SOON ENOUGH FOR ME)”
On this album, the songs are American Broadway songs rather than Spanish-language songs. However, the rhythms are fairly authentic Afro-Cuban rhythms (even though it's unclear if any authentic Afro-Cuban percussionists were actually employed for the session). Nevertheless, it’s a fun record.
Here’s Peggy Lee in 1960 with her Latin-ized version of the Lerner and Loewe song “On The Street Where You Live,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - PEGGY LEE, “ON THE STREET WHERE YOU LIVE”
MUSIC - PEGGY LEE, “FROM NOW ON”
Peggy Lee in 1961 with the Cole Porter song “From Now On.” That comes from the album Olé ala Lee. Before that, Lee in 1960 with the song “On The Street Where You Live” from the album Latin ala Lee.
MUSIC CLIP - CAL TJADER, “SAMBA DO SUENO”
Coming up in just a bit, we’ll have more songs inspired by Latin American music, including some authentic Latin jazz. Stay with us.
I’m Mark Chilla, and you’re listening to Afterglow
MUSIC CLIP - STAN KENTON, “CARNIVAL (CARNIVAL SQUARE)”
MUSIC CLIP - CAL TJADER, “SABOR”
Welcome back to Afterglow, I’m Mark Chilla. We’ve been exploring the influence of Latin American music on jazz and pop singers of the 1950s.
As we’ve discussed, some singers like Nat King Cole, made an actual play for the Latin American market. Others, like Peggy Lee, tried to simply capitalize on the Latin American sound. And yet other singers tried to connect to the growing Latin jazz musician scene. That was the case for Anita O’Day.
Latin Jazz, as a genre in the 1950s, was primarily derived from the Afro-Cuban style of Latin American music. Jazz players like Mario Bauza and Machito helped bring the Afro-Cuban clave rhythm into jazz and bebop, spawning an entirely new subgenre. American jazz musicians like Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Kenton, and Cal Tjader made this an essential part of their style.
Anita O’Day actually worked with Cal Tjader in 1962 on the album Time For Two. Here, she did not sing any authentic Spanish language tunes, or even attempt any kind of Afro-Cuban style to her singing, but Tjader’s band and his vibraphone helps give the album a great Latin feel.
Here’s Anita O’Day and vibraphonist Cal Tjader in 1962 with the standard “Your Red Wagon,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - ANITA O'DAY, FEAT. CAL TJADER, “YOUR RED WAGON”
Anita O’Day with vibraphonist Cal Tjader in 1962 with a Latin jazz version of the standard “Your Red Wagon.”
Cal Tjader was known for Afro-Cuban-inspired Latin jazz. But the other side of the genre commonly referred to as “Latin Jazz” gets its inspiration from a little further south. The Brazilian bossa nova, a jazzy, slowed down samba from the streets of Rio De Janeiro, became part of the jazz language in the late 1950s and early 1960s, inspiring its own craze that took over America. I’ve done several shows about bossa nova music in the past, including one show on singer Astrud Gilberto and another on her husband Joao Gilberto, so I won’t focus too much on it this hour.
However, I will play two songs each inspired by the bossa nova rhythms that became pervasive in the 1960s. First up is Ella Fitzgerald, who incorporated the bossa nova sound into some of her Verve singles in the 1960s. This is her in 1962 with a bossa nova version of the jazz standard “Stardust,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - ELLA FITZGERALD, “STARDUST BOSSA NOVA”
MUSIC - FRANK SINATRA, “I CONCENTRATE ON YOU”
Two jazz standards sung in a bossa nova style. Just now, we heard Frank Sinatra, alongside bossa nova songwriter Antonio Carlos Jobim, from their duet album together in 1967, with the Cole Porter song “I Concentrate on You.” Before that, Ella Fitzgerald and the Marty Paich Orchestra in 1962 with a bossa nova version of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust.”
Many of the jazz and pop standards that we’ve grown to love have their origins as Latin American or Spanish songs. We’ve heard a few so far this hour, including the songs “Frenesi” and “Perfidia,” both written by the Mexican composer Alberto Dominguez, the song “Amapola” by Spanish songwriter Joseph Lacalle, or the classic Cuban hit song “El Manicero” aka “The Peanut Vendor.” There are many more, of course, but I want to play two for you right now, both of which have Mexican origins.
This first one comes from a jazz and pop cabaret singer who became an unexpected Latin music star in the 1960s when she recorded several Spanish-language albums with the established bolero ensemble Los Panchos. Here is Eydie Gorme in 1964 with the Mexican bolero “Sabor A Mi,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - EYDIE GORME, “SABOR A MI”
MUSIC - DEAN MARTIN, “BESAME MUCHO”
Two Mexican boleros, romantic ballads, performed by two American jazz and pop stars. Just now, the standard “Besame Mucho” by songwriter Consuelo Velázquez, sung by Dean Martin in 1962 from his album Dino Latino. Before that, the great Eydie Gorme in 1964 with the song “Sabor A Mi” by Mexican songwriter Álvaro Carrillo. That comes from Gorme’s hit Spanish-language album Amor, which she recorded with the ensemble Los Panchos.
To close off this hour, I want to close with some more authentic Latin American music, performed by an artist that probably did more for popularizing Cuban music and culture in America than anyone in the 20th century, both as a musician and as a leading television star in the 1950s. This final song is another Latin American standard, written by Cuban songwriter Osvaldo Farrés, and performed by everyone from Bing Crosby to Nat King Cole to Doris Day.
Here is singer Desi Arnaz in 1947 doing an English AND Spanish version of the song “Quizas, Quizas, Quizas,” “Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - DESI ARNAZ, “QUIZAS QUIZAS QUIZAS”
Desi Arnaz, Mr. Ricky Ricardo himself, in 1947 with the English and Spanish version of the Cuban standard “Quizas, Quizas, Quizas,” “Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps.”
Thanks for tuning in to this Latin American edition of Afterglow.
MUSIC CLIP - MACHITO & HIS AFRO-CUBANS, “TANGA”
Afterglow is part of the educational mission of Indiana University and produced by WFIU Public Radio in beautiful Bloomington, Indiana. The executive producer is John Bailey.
Playlists for this and other Afterglow programs are available on our website. That’s at indianapublicmedia.org/afterglow.
I’m Mark Chilla, and join me next week for our mix of Vocal Jazz and popular song from the Great American Songbook, here on Afterglow