6 Latino Jazz Musicians

It's International Jazz Day, a holiday which celebrates Jazz music and history, as well as Jazz musicians! Jazz music was born in America in the 1800's and over the years, it has become one of the most popular music genres around the world. In honor of Jazz Day, we're taking a look at some of the greatest Latino jazz musicians:

1. Tito Puente

Tito Puente is considered one of the most legendary forces behind the Latin jazz genre. The late musician who is known as both "El Rey de los Timbales" and "The King of Latin Music," was inspired by jazz drummer Gene Krupa. Thanks to that influence, Puente began studying percussion, and soon became the most famous timbales player on the scene.


2. Eddie Palmieri

Born in Spanish Harlem in 1936, Eddie Palmieri grew up surrounded by the sounds of jazz and Latin dance music. He began his musical journey playing the timbales and later took on piano. Palmieri has won nine Grammys throughout his career and continues to excel as one of the greatest of Latin jazz.


3. Machito

Frank "Machito" Grillo was a Cuban maracas player who formed the band the Afro-Cubans. Machito and the Afro-Cubans performed Cuban songs that were arranged by American jazz composers. Through Machito's leadership, the Afro-Cubans became one of the foremost Latin jazz ensembles in history.


4. Ruben Blades

Born in Panama to a Cuban mother and Colombian father, Ruben Blades was influenced musically by both his parents. His father played the bongos and his mother was a pianist, singer, and actress. Blades, who is known for hits such as "Pedro Navaja," propelled his musical career when he began singing with Ray Baretto's band. With over a dozen album credits, Blades has been recognized as one of the greatest Latin jazz musicians and salsa singers.


5. Ray Barretto

The late Latin jazz legend Ray Barretto decided to devote his life to music while stationed in Germany as a United States soldier. When he arrived back to his hometown of New York City, Barretto became one of the most sought out conga players. In 1999, Barretto, who won the hearts of millions of Latin music and jazz fans, was inducted into the Latin Music Hall of Fame.


6. Mario Bauza

Cubano Mario Bauza developed his trumpet skills in Cuba, and learned the greatness of jazz when he came to live in New York City. Bauza, along with his brother-in-law and fellow Latin jazz great Machito, lit the fire for what became known as an explosion of Latin jazz in the 1940s and 50s.