"Chocolate" Armenteros / April 4, 1928 - Jan 6, 2016

Alfredo "Chocolate" Armenteros is my favorite of the great Cuban trumpeters. He had a powerhouse sound that could be brash and forceful, or sweet and lyrical. He got his professional start while still in Cuba, cutting his first sides in '49 with René Álvarez. The '50s saw him busy with Arsenio Rodriguez and Beny Moré. He also played with Nat King Cole on the pianists' Cuban sessions.

He came to NYC in 1960 and got a lot of work doing sessions and playing in several bands. He played consistently with Eddie Palmieri from the late '60s through the '70s. In the early '80s he was associated with S.A.R., playing in the studio band and recording his own albums. He also worked with José Fajardo, Cachao, the awesome Grupo Folklorico y Experimental Nuevayorquino, Mongo Santamaría, Cedar Walton, Kip Hanrahan, Robin Jones and really, just about everyone.

He could be heard in a variety of settings, from folksy Cuban ensembles to hard-driving salsa, mambo big band, jazz/descarga, calypso, funk and more. He passed away in 2016, somehow not receiving the level the attention as many others did, despite how important of a musician he was.

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