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We Speak African: Arturo O’Farrill on U.S./Cuba Exchange

Why diplomatic relations will change everything

Arturo O'Farrill

In 1947, Chano Pozo and Dizzy Gillespie began a conversation. Looking for an exotic flavor to spice up his music, Dizzy had asked Mario Bauzá to recommend a percussionist. The two hit it off, and Dizzy is famously quoted as saying, “He doesn’t speak English and I don’t speak Spanish but we both speak African.”

Dizzy was on to something. He and Chano recognized themselves in each other. Neither saw the other’s music as a subset of his own art. Quite the opposite, they discovered vital information-a missing piece in their understanding of themselves and where they came from musically.

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