U.S. Postal Service Celebrates Latin Jazz, Hispanic Heritage

The U.S. Postal Service dedicated the Latin Jazz commemorative stamp Monday at the National Postal Museum in celebration of the rich legacy of Latin jazz.

"Through our stamp program, we have the privilege to shine light on the diverse gifts that make our nation great, " said Marie Therese Dominguez, vice president, Government Affairs and Public Policy. "Today, we are here to celebrate the beauty of Latin jazz and its powerful influence on American culture."

The Latin Jazz stamp is the latest in a long history of stamp subjects honoring Hispanic people, places and events. Recognition also has been given to American journalist Ruben Salazar, the 1947 Mendez v. Westminster trial and civil rights leader Cesar Chavez. Altogether, the Postal Service has issued over 50 stamps celebrating Hispanic heritage.

The stamp dedication included a special guest performance by 2008 National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Candido Camero. Since the 1950s, Camero has been instrumental in the evolution and proliferation of Latin jazz in the United States and has collaborated with such jazz legends as Dizzy Gillespie and the Billy Taylor Quartet.

"I am proud to join the Postal Service in celebrating Latin jazz in the United States, " said Camero.

Latin jazz is an improvisational and rhythmic style of music that combines elements of jazz with musical traditions rooted in Africa, Europe and the Americas. Like jazz, it relies on instruments such as the piano, saxophone and bass to play and improvise harmonies and melodies. Most Latin jazz adds a complex rhythm section, which can include conga drums, the bongo, maracas, the cowbell or other percussion instruments.

Building on the marriage of Caribbean and North American music styles that had begun in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Latin jazz spread throughout the United States during the 1920s and 1930s, along with the growing popularity of Latin rhythms and dance styles. Enthusiasm for Latin jazz reached new heights during the 1940s and 1950s. Since then, new instruments like the flute and trumpet have been added to the Latin jazz sound.

The stamp features a bold, graphic design by San Francisco-based artist ? and Latin jazz fan ? Michael Bartalos. Eager to capture the upbeat, energetic and romantic spirit that characterizes much of Latin jazz, Bartalos has created a tropical evening scene that depicts three musicians playing bass, piano, and conga drums and conveys the multicultural aspects of the music, its percussive and improvisational nature and its rhythmic complexity.

The 42-cent Latin Jazz stamp goes on sale nationwide today and also can be purchased online at

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