[JPL] Pioneer Afro Cuban Jazz songtress is gravely ill

Arturo Gomez arturo at kuvo.org
Mon Apr 5 18:25:28 EDT 2010

In case you haven't heard, Graciela Pérez-the legendary Graciela of Machito's Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra has been hospitalized for 2 weeks and is in critical condition. Graci is a few months short of her 95th birthday, she arrived to New York circa 1942 at the request of her brother Machito and brother-in-law Mario Bauzá shortly after they founded the Afro Cuban jazz orchestra. Graciela began in her career in Cuba in the 1930s playing bass, guitar, claves, maracas and singing for the all female orchestra Anacaona which traveled extensively throughout Europe with their road manager Alberto Socarrás, the Cuban flautist who took the first recorded flute solo in jazz in the 1920s, their 1939 tour was cut short due to the onset of WW2.  Graciela is known for her sassiness-often singing sexy and double entendres songs as well as singing boleros divinely alongside her interpretations of Cuban dance music. After over 30 years association with her brother, when Machito decided to make his son Mario Grillo the Music Director for the band, Graciela opted to go with Mario Bauzá to form their own Afro Cuban Jazz orchestra recorded 5 albums, the final threefor the Messidor label out of Germany. After Bauzá passed away Graciela continued to sing on occasion and recorded a CD with NEA Jazz Master Cándidido Camero for Chesky, Inolvidable(unforgettable). She also was a guest on Steve Turre's self titled album for Antilles/Verve. Graciela was in the process of writing her memoirs when she took ill, over the past 2 weeks despite being very ill Graciela has remained as ornery as ever giving lip to her nurses and doctors. A long list of musicians who she has performed and or recorded with have been visiting her.

Here's a clip from NYC,1970s TV appearance with Machito Afro Cuban Orchestra

Here's Graciela at NY's "jazz church" where her Chesky album was recorded, early 2000's

Here's Graciela about 2 years ago singing at the Andy González benefit fund raiser

Arturo Gómez
Music Director
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