"Chano had a reputation, and he got killed, later, on his reputation but not before he contributed to our music and helped to carry it, out to the world overseas."".
The year was 1946, and Be-Bop trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie quite simply had the best big band out on the road at that time. The band was spreading its exciting new style of orchestral modern Jazz, mixed with a healthy dose of blues and swing, all over the country and was beginning to spill over into Europe; and the critics the critics were raving about this daring and innovative group that was translating the speedy Be-Bop language into a big band style that people could dance to, understand, and enjoy. Not to mention the fact that their leader, Dizzy himself, was quite simply playing some of the best Jazz trumpet that could be heard anywhere. It was indeed a good year for Dizzy, so good in fact, that you would think he would be on top of the world at that stage in his career, but he was not satisfied. Ever the innovator, Dizzy was looking for a new style, and a new sound to create and conquer, and the answer strangely enough, was bubbling away behind many of his own compositions. Right there lurking within the framework of tunes like Pickin the Cabbage and Night In Tunisia was the apposition between a four-four swing beat and a Latin or African rhythm. The next logical step for Dizzy it seemed, was to see if it was possible to combine these rhythms with the powerful sound of his big band and balance the off-center accents of famed Be-Bop drummer Kenny Clarke's drumming, with the genuine sound of African and Cuban percussion. .
"I want somebody to play them Tom-Tom thangs' man."" This was Dizzy asking his good friend and purveyor of Latin music, Mario Bauza, if he knew anybody who would and could, play the congas in his band. Dizzy had known Mario for many years, but at the time did not know exactly what the drums that he wanted in his band were called.