Personnel includes: Machito (leader); Mario Bauza (arranger, alto saxophone, trumpet); Rene Hernandez, A.K. Salim (arranger); Cannonball Adderley (alto saxophone); Ray Santos, Jr., Jose Madera (tenor saxophone); Leslie Johnakins (baritone saxophone); Joe Newman, Doc Cheatham, Francis Williams, Paul Cohen, Paquito Davilla, Joe Livramento (trumpet); Santo Russo, Eddie Bert, Bart Varsalona, Jimmy Russo (trombone); Rene Hernandez (piano); Roberto Rodriguez (bass); Jose Mangual (bongos); Candido Camero, Carlos "Patato" Valdes (congas); Uba Nieto (timbales); Pedro Boulong, Jose Silva, Nilo Siera (percussion).
Producer: Ralph Seijo.
Reissue producer: Michael Cuscuna.
Recorded at Metropolitan Studios, New York, New York on December 17, 19 & 24, 1957. Includes original liner notes by Roger Dangerfield.
All tracks have been digitally remastered.
Personnel: Machito (maracas); Mario Bauz (alto saxophone, trumpet); Cannonball Adderley (alto saxophone); Ray Santos Jr., Jose Madera (tenor saxophone); Leslie Johnakins (baritone saxophone); Doc Cheatham, Paquito Davilla, Joe Livramento, Joe Newman , Francis Williams , Paul Cohen (trumpet); Santo Russo, Eddie Bert, Rex Peer, Bart Varsalona (trombone); Ren‚ Hern ndez (piano); Candido Camero (congas); Jose Mangual (bongos); Pedro "Puchi" Boulong, Jose Silva (percussion).
Recording information: Metropolitan Studios, NY (12/17/1957-12/24/1957).
Director: Mario Bauz .
Arrangers: Ahmad Kharab Salim; Mario Bauz ; Ren‚ Hern ndez .
Bandleader extraordinaire Machito was born in Cuba, and the "original Mambo King" utilized that country's indigenous rhythms throughout his career. As its title implies, though, this 1957 release finds Machito turning an ear towards the African side of the Afro-Cuban jazz style he helped to pioneer. The energy level on KENYA is astounding, and there's virtually no letup. Under the direction of Machito and his brother-in-law/right-hand man Mario Bauza, the ensemble tears through a dozen cuts with such disciplined ferocity it's a wonder anyone was left standing at the end of the session.
The electrifying big-band arrangements are typified by tight structures, forcefully executed ensemble lines, and of course, a percolating bed of percussion that keeps the groove constant no matter how sophisticated the harmonic intercourse becomes. The tunes, mostly composed specifically for this project, are all based around traditional Afro-Cuban rhythms, and their diversity represents the variety to be found in those fertile sonic fields. From rhumba to bata to mambo, the rhythmic drive is invigorating. The contributions of non-Latin jazzmen such as Doc Cheatham (who worked with Machito for some time) and Cannonball Adderley only adds to the mix in this piping-hot musical stew.