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Published on Feb 20, 2010

Latin jazz pianist, leader, composer, arranger. Infl. by Noro Morales and Errol Gardner, he developed an inimitable rhythmic style, drive and ability to "lift" a band. Often in his numbers he'd switch styles from Latin (with Latin rhythm section) to straight jazz (accompanied by drum kit). Began classical piano studies at age five; played bass in junior high school and trombone in high school, where he became interested in jazz and decided to turn pro; an uncle introduced him to Duke Ellington's music; started working in local nightclub bands '43, playing both Latin and American dance music. Joined US Army '45, assigned to various military bands and completed a course in six months at L.A. Conservatory of Music '46.

After his discharge he worked and toured with various bands incl. Miguelito Valdés '48-9 based in NYC (recordings with Valdés on SMC '49 compiled on Mambo Dance Session '94 on Caribe); while in NYC, sat-in with bands of Tito Puente, Machito, José Curbelo and Noro Morales, latter became a close friend. Back in L.A. he sessioned with Les Baxter (La Sacre du Suavage '52 on Capitol), Cal Tjader (Ritmo Caliente '55 and Demasiado Caliente '60 on Fantasy, latter incl. big band arr. by Cano), Jack Costanzo (Mr Bongo '55 on GNP and Latin Fever '58 on Liberty), Buddy Collette (Jazz Heat - Bongo Beat '61 on Eros), others.

He sent a homemade demo tape to Shorty Rogers at RCA Victor mid-'50s; Rogers liked what he heard and organised Cano's signing to label; debut LP Cole Porter And Me '56 and follow-up Duke Ellington And Me '57 collected on Duke Ellington, Cole Porter And Me '93 in RCA Tropical Series (Rogers co-prod.); then Deep In A Drum '58 (reissued in RCA Tropical Series '93), prod. by Rogers, Time For Cha Cha Chá '58, compilation The Best of Eddie Cano '62. Made Cha Cha Con Cano c. '59 on United Artists. Switched to GNP to co-headline with Costanzo on Dancing On The Sunset Strip c. '60 with vibes player/ singer/ composer Tony Martínez and his orchestra (recorded live at Hollywood's Crescendo club) and Mucho Piano! c. '60 (reissued as A Taste of Cano ).

He signed with Reprise, but later complained of the artistic constraints imposed by the label. Reprise debut Eddie Cano at P.J.'s '61 incl. Grammy nom. US national hit single "A Taste of Honey." (P.J.'s was a small after-hours club in West Hollywood, which opened May '61; his quintet [formed '57] began a residency there July '61 and became a big hit with show business celebrities who flocked to see him.) Five more LPs on Reprise followed: Here Is The Fabulous Eddie Cano , Cano Plays Mancini , Danke Schoen (mainly a compilation), The Sound of Music And The Sound of Cano (live LP) and Broadway Right Now c. '62-5. Appeared in the Jerry Lewis movie The Nutty Professor '63. Changed to Atco for On Broadway '66 with tenor saxist Nino Tempo; then Dunhill (a subsidiary of ABC) for the exhilarating Brought Back Live From P.J.'s c. '67.

His recording career waned after '60s; released 30 Latin American Favorites on Pickwick; sessioned on vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson's first Latin jazz outing Montara '75 on Blue Note; played on Tell an Amigo '86 on Sea Breeze by Rodríguez. Gigged with conguero Poncho Sánchez in latter years; became first president of Hispanic Musicians Association (H.M.A.) '86-7 (H.M.A. Salsa/ Jazz Orchestra made notable album California Salsa '91 on Sea Breeze); died suddenly at age 60 shortly after successful heart surgery.


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