The following article is reprinted with permission from the spring 1988 issue of CENTRO, the bulletin of the Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños, Hunter College, New York. It was previously published in the fall 1987 issue of Dissent.

Word has it that Machito, the father of Latin jazz who died in early 1984 at seventy-five, was learning how to breakdance. The great Cuban bandleader, who since the 1940s had performed with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker and stood at the juncture of Caribbean and Afro-American musical traditions, must surely have recognized an exciting new stage in the dual heritage he had made his own.

For break and rap rhythms. with all their absorption of intervening and adjoining styles, remain grounded in African musical expression. They are further testimony to the shared cultural life of African-descended peoples in New York City, which for the past generation, at least, has centered on the interaction of Puerto Ricans and blacks.


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