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Jose "Chombo" Silva was a veteran Cuban musician who hit the NYC scene in the '60s, playing charangas and descargas. Versatile as both a saxophonist and violinist, he played with Johnny Pacheco's charanga, Ray Barretto, the Alegre All Stars, Kako, Mongo Santamaría, Peruchín, Charlie Palmieri, Chocolate Armenteros, Típica Ideal, Africando, Nestor Torres' La Sensual and the Panamanian group Los Exagerados, with whom he contributed the blasting descarga "Panama Esta Bueno Y… Ma". He learned violin at an early age, playing in church groups. In the late '30s he was playing with pianist Peruchín. In '48 he started the Swing Boys orchestra in Havana and was chumming with Chico O'Farrill. In '49 he was off to Europe to play in the Jaime Camino orchestra and jammed with young Tete Montoliu. He traveled around South America and Panama in the '50s before joining Beny Moré's band as a sax player in '55. The heavy descarga scene was jamming in the late '50s, with Chombo a major factor. After moving to the States, he hooked up with Machito and Cal Tjader. He found solid work with Barretto, Mongo and for producer Al Santiago and the Alegre label.

A talent known to the hardcore Latin music freaks, he contributed to several cult classic recordings but he may have only made one album under his own leadership, the tribute to Armando Manzanero titled Los Hits de Manzanero - En el Saxofon de Chombo Silva, for the Gema label ('69). At least as far as I know, it's been just that one. You can check him on the raw descargas of Julio Guitierrez' Cuban Jam Sessions (Panart) AND the later Progressive Latin, the frenzied salsa of La Diferente, Cal Tjader's A Night at the Blackhawk, Loco Motion by Joe Loco, Knockdown Calypsos by the calypsonian Growling Tiger and several others ya gotta dig for.

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