Machito (born Francisco Raúl Gutiérrez Grillo,
February 16, 1908?– April 19, 1984) was an influential Latin
jazz musician who helped refine Afro-Cuban jazz and create both Cubop and salsa
music. He was raised in Havana
alongside the singer Graciela, his foster sister.
Machito was somewhat short in stature, at 5 feet 4 inches (1.63 m) in height. A lifelong Roman Catholic, he married Puerto Rican Hilda Torres on
January 17, 1940,
at which time he changed his nickname from "Macho" to
"Machito". The cross-cultural marriage served as a sign to New York
Latinos that it was possible to attain a sense of pan-Latino brotherhood. Frank
and Hilda Grillo produced five children: Martha (1941), Frank Jr (1943),
Barbara (1948), Mario (1956) and Paula. The family lived in Spanish Harlem at 112th
Street and Second Avenue,
where Machito enjoyed cooking for his children, writing the occasional song
such as "Sopa de Pichon" while working in the kitchen.
New York City,
Machito formed the band the Afro-Cubans in 1940, and with Mario Bauzá as
musical director, brought together Cuban rhythms and big band arrangements in
one group. He made numerous recordings from the 1940s to the 1980s, many with
Graciela as singer. Machito changed to a smaller ensemble format in 1975,
touring Europe extensively. He brought his son and
daughter into the band, and received a Grammy Award in 1983, one year before he
Machito's music had an effect on the lives of many musicians who played in the Afro-Cubans over the years, and on those who were attracted to Latin jazz after hearing him. George Shearing, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and Stan Kenton credited Machito as an influence. An intersection in
Harlem is named " Machito Square"
in his honor.