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Passings

Joe Cuba

Musician created 'Latin Boogaloo'

February 20, 2009|Times Staff and Wire Reports

Joe Cuba, 78, dubbed the "Father of Latin Boogaloo" for weaving a fluid, bilingual mix of musical influences, died Sunday at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City of complications from a persistent bacterial infection, the Associated Press reported.

"He had a dynamic group," with a signature vibraphone-fronted sound that "caused a craze because it was different," Cheo Feliciano, a longtime friend and singer in Cuba's band, told the AP.

Cuba was born Gilberto Miguel Calderon in New York City to parents from Puerto Rico.

He was a teenager when he took up the conga drums and decided to become a professional musician after seeing percussionist and band leader Tito Puente.

He played with several New York-based groups before forming his own band in the 1950s. His agent suggested he call his group the Joe Cuba Sextet.

Cuba called "Latin boogaloo" a "bastard sound" and said it came out of years of playing dances in and around New York, noting how "the audience relates to what you are doing," the New York Times reported in its obituary of Cuba.

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news.obits@latimes.com

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