Luciano Pozo Gonzalez, known as “Chano Pozo”, was a great Cuban percussionist, composer, singer and dancer.
Despite his brief career (died at 33 for a drug-related dispute), Chano Pozo is considered a key in the development of Afro-Cuban jazz figure and one of the best percussionists in the world.
A difficult childhood marked by music
Pozo Luciano was born on January 7th, 1915, in Havana, at a place called “Solar Pan con Timba” in Vedado neighborhood. From very humble origins, his childhood was marked by marginalization in other neighborhoods like “Pueblo Nuevo” and “Key West”.
The biggest advantage he gained from his childhood was his early relationship with the Afro-Cuban percussion religious in nature, because thanks to their songs and “toques” Chano Pozo dominated the conga, rumba, guaguancó and yambú.
During his adolescence his missteps led him to be admitted to the Correctional Men Guanajay in Pinar del Río. Upon his release from prison he had to shine shoes, sell newspapers and repair cars, until his work as a janitor allowed him access to the radio station RHC Cadena Azul.
During this time Chano Pozo integrates Abakuá Secret Society, making him to deepen his religious Yoruba rhythms and then adding transparency to his compositions.
Chano Pozo: the ascension of a star
At the initiative of the owner of the radio station, Chano and his brother Felix Chappottín formed the “Conjunto Azul” in 1940, where it was very common seeing him playing six or eight congas at the same time.
From that year until 1946 Chano also highlighted as a composer, and many greats of Cuban music sang songs like “Blen blen blen“, “Ana Boroco Tinde”, “Parampampín“, “Wawina Yerabo”, “Ariñáñara”, “Ampárame”,” Llora”, “Son los Dandies”, “Tumbando caña”, “Nagüe”, “Sarabanda” y “El Pin Pin”.
He worked in nightclubs and theaters, including the famous Tropicana and also in cabaret congas and carnival parades. In all of them, besides playing the drum, he showed his skills as a dancer and singer in the groups “Los Dandies”, “El Barracón”, “La Mexicana” y “La Sultana”.
Fall fame and Drum Cuba
Seeking economic improvements, Chano Pozo emigrated to the United States in 1946 and worked as a dancer and guest musician on recordings until he joined the orchestra of Dizzie Gillespie. He worked in New York and made international tours to Binghamton, Boston, Detroit and Chicago. He used to play his drums in front of the orchestra and not behind as usual, also singing and dancing.
On December 30th, 1947 he recorded “Manteca” with RCA Victor, from that moment considered a classic of Latin jazz. Then he made tours including international presentations in Sweden, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, France, Switzerland and England, in addition to cities in the United States.
Almost a year later, at the pinnacle of his career, in Harlem he had a discussion with a Puerto Rican drug dealer, who in his opinion had cheated him $ 15 and slapped him in public. The next day, while Chano was performing in the “River Bar Grill“, he was shot six times by Eusebio Muñoz.
The next day, December 3rd, 1948, his friend and fellow musician Miguelito Valdes was the responsible for sending his body to his native Havana, where he was buried in the cemetery of Colon in the hands of his many admirers and friends.
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