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Latin Jazz Playlist

Featuring A Compilation of Songs To Get You Started with Latin Jazz

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The history of Latin Jazz is full of outstanding musicians and great songs. The following playlist offers a combination of legendary tracks like "Manteca" by Dizzy Gillespie and Chano Pozo, and contemporary singles like "Besame Mama" by Poncho Sanchez. This compilation will help you to get started with the sounds of one of the most pleasant and dynamic genres in Latin music.

10. "Latin Blues" - Louie Ramirez

Photo Courtesy Cobo Music Inc.
Photo Courtesy Cobo Music Inc.

Although Louie Ramirez gained most of his fame playing Salsa, he was also a talented Latin Jazz artist. "Latin Blues" is one of my favorite Latin Jazz songs. The melody, which is defined by the amazing sound of Louie Ramirez's vibraphone, is elegant and extremely pleasant. The brass sections are also fantastic and they fit perfectly the sound of the vibes.

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9. "Sofrito" - Mongo Santamaria

Photo Courtesy Fania
Photo Courtesy Fania

If you do not know this song, you may be confused by the beginning of it. In fact, the piano intro of this single sounds like the melody of a Classical music piece. However, things change drastically when the melody moves into the brass sections. "Sofrito" offers amazing trumpet and flute solos. A fantastic song by Latin Jazz pioneer Mongo Santamaria.

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8. "Sweet Glenda" - Leandro 'Gato' Barbieri

Photo Courtesy Columbia
Photo Courtesy Columbia

Although he was born as an artist during the Free Jazz movement of the 1960s, 'Gato' Barbieri has also produced a big repertoire of Latin Jazz music. "Sweet Glenda" is a delicate song offering a nice melody, which is defined by the saxophone playing of this talented Argentinian musician.

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7. "Besame Mama" - Poncho Sanchez

Photo Courtesy Concord Picante
Photo Courtesy Concord Picante

Poncho Sanchez is one of today's most popular Latin Jazz artists. "Besame Mama" is a wonderful song from beginning to end. After the piano intro, the song brings a very nice brass section before hitting the vocals. This track offers Poncho's characteristic conga playing.

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6. "Trompeta En Montuno" - Alfredo 'Chocolate' Armenteros

Photo Courtesy Cobo Music Inc.
Photo Courtesy Cobo Music Inc.

"Trompeta En Montuno" is a wonderful song to fully appreciate the skills of one of the best trumpeters in Latin Jazz history. The melody is injected with nice jamming sessions where different instruments, such as the piano and flute, follow the path of Chocolate's trumpet. This is definitely a great Latin Jazz song.

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5. "Manteca" - Dizzy Gillespie and Chano Pozo

Photo Courtesy Hindsight Records
Photo Courtesy Hindsight Records

"Manteca" is one of the first songs that incorporated Afro-Cuban elements into traditional American Jazz. The track was written by Dizzy Gillespie and Chano Pozo, two of the biggest pioneers of Latin Jazz. You can tell from the sound of this single that it was produced back in the time when the Big Band sound, which also included Mambo orchestras, was the big thing.

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4. "La Cuna" - Ray Barreto

Photo Courtesy Legacy/Epic Associated
Photo Courtesy Legacy/Epic Associated

Ray Barreto moved to history as one of the best conga players from the legendary Salsa band Fania All Stars. Besides being a Salsa star, he was also very much into the Puerto Rican Jazz movement that flourished in New York back in the 1960s and 1970s. One of his best tracks in this genre is "La Cuna," a wonderful song offering a nice flute playing and the typical beats of Barreto's conga.

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3. "Soul Sauce (Guachi Guara)" - Cal Tjader

Photo Courtesy Verve Records
Photo Courtesy Verve Records

Cal Tjader is one of the most important figures in the development of Latin Jazz. His career was entirely marked by his never ending experimentation with Afro-Cuban Jazz. "Soul Sauce (Guachi Gauara)" is not only one of his most famous songs but also an essential track to add into any Latin Jazz playlist. The song is defined by Tjader's vibraphone playing.

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2. "Cha Cha Cha" - Tito Puente

Photo Courtesy Concord Records Inc.
Photo Courtesy Concord Records Inc.

Besides Mambo and Salsa, Tito Puente was also a leading figure of the Latin Jazz movement. In fact, his repertoire in this field is extensive. "Cha Cha Cha" is one of the most pleasant Latin Jazz melodies Tito Puente ever produced. Its melancholic sound is defined by an amazing piano playing and delicate brass arrangements.

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1. "Congo Mulence" - Machito

Photo Courtesy Blue Note
Photo Courtesy Blue Note

Alongside artists like Mario Bauza and Dizzy Gillespie, Cuban musician Machito is considered one of the greatest pioneers of Latin Jazz. "Congo Mulence" offers a nice Rumba beat, which becomes almost sensual thanks to the saxophone and trumpet solos you can hear in this melody. A classy single to add to this Latin Jazz playlist.

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