Mario Bauza, 82, musician and bandleader, died July 11 in New York of cancer.Trained in both Afro-Cuban music and jazz, Bauza helped introduce Latin music to the United States. He was bandleader of Machito and the Afro-Cubans, based at the Palladium in Manhattan. He also helped introduce various dance crazes, including the mambo, the rhumba and the cha-cha. Bauza was also a stage manager and assisted the early careers of Ella Fitzgerald and bandleader Chick Webb. Born in Havana, Bauza first came to New York in 1926. He returned to Cuba to work with the Havana Philharmonic but in the early 1930s returned to New York, where he worked with Antonio Machin and Dan Azpiazu, who were prominent U.S.-based Cuban composers. He was also a member of the Chick Webb band for which he played trumpet. After leaving Webb in 1938, Bauza went on to perform with other leading big bands including the orchestras of Don Redman and Fletcher Henderson. But it was in 1939 when he began to work with Cab Calloway that his influence on American music was most deeply felt. He introduced Dizzy Gillespie to the band and together they formulated the new Afro-Cuban and jazz synthesis that would make its mark on American music. Throughout the 1940s and ’50s, Bauza recorded and performed regularly. In 1975 he was reunited with Gillespie on “Dizzy Gillespie y Machito: Afro-Cuban Jazz Moods,” which was nominated for a Grammy. Survived by his wife, Lourdes, and a daughter.
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