Another musical icon has left us. On Wednesday, April 7th, at 7:58 a.m., Graciela Pérez-Gutierrez, known simply as Graciela, died in Manhattan, at age 94.
Born in Havana, Cuba on August 23rd, 1915, she began her seventy-seven year career at age 17, singing with the all-female group Orquesta Anacaona. In New York, her brother Frank Grillo "Machito" and his brother-in-law Mario Bauzá formed Machito and the Afro-Cubans, which became the preeminent Latin orchestra of the day, and set the standard for all other Latin bands to come. When in 1943 Machito was drafted into the U.S. Army, Bauzá sent for Graciela. Known for her inimitable vocal stylings on classics Noche de Ronda, Que Me Falta, Ay José, Novio Mio, Vive Como Yo, and Sí, Sí, No, No, she performed with, and traveled the world with the orchestra for 32 years, until she joined Bauzá's band in 1975.
Graciela received International Latin Music Hall of Fame awards in 1999 and 2001, a Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007, and recognition from the United States government for entertaining troops during World War II. During her 93rd birthday celebration, held at Lincoln Center's Out of Doors Festival, she sang five songs, for ten thousand fans.
I consider myself fortunate to have watched Graciela rehearse at Mario Bauzá's apartment back in the late 1980s. I extend my deepest condolences to her family, friends and associates.
Vibraphonist Steve Pouchie has released El Puente (The Bridge), a Latin Jazz CD featuring Little Johnny Rivero, Andrea Brachfeld, Pete Nater, Jotan Afanador, and Iván Renta.
"I guess," says Pouchie, who also produces cable program "Latin Jazz Alive and Kickin'," "my first goal with this recording was to present a collection of songs and arrangements that would be reflective of both 'old school' Latin Jazz-music that prompts you to dance as well as listen-and some original songs that are new, catchy, and memorable. Overall, my other main goal was to create an album that would be a hit for Latin Jazz vibes lovers--both East coast and West coast."
The New York-born Puerto Rican's vibraphone style has been compared to both Cal Tjader's--Max Salazar has dubbed him the "Puerto Rican Cal Tjader"--and to Tito Puente's.
Seven of the CDs tracks were composed by Pouchie, who collaborated on arrangements with both Willie Ruiz and Adan Pérez, in addition to arranging on his own. Andrea Brachfeld and Ariel Santiago contributed flute solos, and Ronnie...