Choco, Bowie & Natalie

Posted on Jan 14, 2016

During the first 10 days of this new year, we lost 3 extraordinary musicians who were one of a kind.  The flamboyant David Bowie who was always a forward thinking musical visionary and lifestyle maverick whose career exploded in the early 1970’s and who just released his new recording “Lazarus” on his 69th birthday a couple of days before he passed this past Sunday. Soulful vocalist Natalie Cole, daughter of the late Nat King Cole who rose to prominence with her own beautiful voice and scored great hits such as “This Will Be” during her career.  She managed to reunite vocally with her father on the exceptional recording “Unforgettable” through modern technology.

And last but not least, Cuban trumpet legend Alfredo “Chocolate” Armenteros.  Chocolate was a virtuoso whose fluid playing style with jazzy tipico phrasing first graced the groups of Rene Alvarez and Arsenio Rodriguez.  He was also a member of the famed Beny More big band and a charter member of La Sonora Matancera.  After he moved to the United States, Armenteros performed and recorded with Machito, Cachao and Eddie Palmieri.  Chocolate put out his solo recordings on the Salsoul and SAR labels but was also featured on some of the important recordings of the 1970’s including “Grupo Folklorico Y Experimental Nuevoyorquino” and Cachao’s New York based descarga recordings (as well as Cachao’s 1990’s descargas with actor Andy Garcia).  Chocolate enjoyed an illustrious career that spanned some 6 decades.  I had the pleasure of interviewing Chocolate for my radio program and working with him at the old Mi Pueblo club at 330 Ritch.  He was a classy gentleman, a character with a great sense of humor and a great laugh and a fantastic trumpeter.

These great artists will all be missed!