Carlos Emilio Morales

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Carlos Emilio Morales (November 6, 1939 – November 12, 2014) was a Cuban jazz guitarist.

Life and career[edit]

Morales perfected the application of classical guitar techniques to a jazz setting and helped introduce global audiences to Cuban jazz sounds in the early 1970s, particularly for his contribution with the group Irakere. His technique reflects his study of the work of Andrés Segovia, while his playing style has influenced not only Cuban guitarists but also many other instrumentalists. Nicknamed El Gordo (The Fat), Morales is regarded as the first to suggest to Cuban bassists that they could apply guitar techniques to the bass guitar, instead of trying to play their instrument like a contrabass.

A native of Marianao, Cuba, Morales was the son of a dentist. He attended medical school at the Universidad de La Habana and worked as a travelling salesman of medical products.

Morales learned to play guitar at the age of 12, based mostly by the sound of the Mexican guitar trio Los Panchos, being already acquainted with Trío Matamoros' style, something that he heard daily at home. He received formal training in the 1950s with professors Clara Nicola, García Gattel, Jesús Ortega and Federico Smith. He was later influenced by jazz guitarists Charlie Byrd, Tal Farlow, Barney Kessell, Wes Montgomery and Django Reinhardt. He started his professional career in 1959 with the Teatro Musical de La Habana orchestra, where classical guitarist Leo Brouwer was composer.

In 1967, Morales became a founding member of the Orquesta Cubana de Música Moderna, an 18-piece big band conceived and directed by Armando de Sequeira Romeu, which featured players such as Chucho Valdés, Paquito D'Rivera, Arturo Sandoval and Carlos Averhoff, among others, who together with Morales founded the Irakere group in 1973.

Morales toured and recorded extensively with Irakere as well as occasionally with his own performance projects, including master teaching classes at Escuela de Superación Profesional. Though he has never recorded a solo album, his improvisational skills have been documented on many records as a sideman. Morales lived in Havana.

Morales died November 11, 2014, aged 75.[1]

Selected discography[edit]

  • Irakere (1979)
  • Havana Jam (1979)
  • The Legendary Irakere in London (1987)
  • Homenaje a Beny Moré (1989)
  • Misa Negra (1992)
  • Bebo Rides Again (1994)
  • Cuba Jazz (1996)
  • Night at Ronnie Scott's, Vol. 4 (1996)
  • United Nations of Messidor (1996)
  • Nu Yorica 2!: Further Adventures in Latin Music Chang (1998)
  • Babalu Ayé (1999)
  • Afro Cuban Jazz Now (2001)
  • Afro Cuban Trombone (2003)
  • Lost Sessions (2003)
  • Arturo Sandoval & The Latin Jazz Orchestra (2007)
  • Tata Güines (2007)
  • Irakere 1978 World Tour (2008)
  • Chucho Valdés and his Combo (2008)
  • Fania All-Stars Havana Jam 2 (2009)
  • Orquesta Cubana de Música Moderna (2009)


  1. ^ "Prensa Latina News Agency - Cuban Jazz Guitarist Dies". Retrieved 14 November 2014. 


  • Cuba: A Global Studies Handbook – Ted A. Henken Ph.D. Publisher: ABC-CLIO, 2007. Format: Hardcover, 578pp. Language: English. ISBN 1-85109-984-0
  • Cuban Music from A to Z – Helio Orovio. Publisher: Duke University Press, 2004. Format: Paperback, 248pp. Language: English. ISBN 0-8223-3212-4
  • My Sax Life: A Memoir – Paquito D'Rivera, Ilan Stavans. Publisher: Northwestern University Press, 2005. Format: Hardcover, 344pp. Language: English. ISBN 0-8101-2218-9

External links[edit]