Although the roots of the bolero are said to have begun in Spain, it wasn’t until the early part of the 20th century that the genre progressed in the country of Cuba. Having emerged as a dance form and a musical cross with Cuban son – it would go on to evolve throughout Latin America in trio form, as probably one of the most recognizable vocal and guitar idioms. Lyrically the bolero is unashamed of being over-sentimental. With songs about eternal passion, death, or the wallowing/lamenting of unrequited love. Musically, as evident in this post, trios began fusing the bolero with other musical genres. Probably the closest to its Cuban roots would be Trio Caribe’s bolero-son “Sola En El Mundo” (alone in the world). However, I did manage to include boleros from Mexico, Colombia and Argentina – from traditional serenade style trio music, to cumbia/rock/jazz bolero fusions. Enjoy!
1. Trio Caribe: Sola En El Mundo
2. Trio Fonseca: Murio Candelaria
3. Los Tres Reyes: Por Que Me Dejas
4. Los Tecolines: Puente Roto
5. Trio Los Panchos: Lupita
Published February 20, 2012
Latin Jazz , Latin Roots
I threw together some of the earlier RCA recordings of a younger Tito Puente in the 1950’s. This is the era of the big bandleaders and when the mambo craze was in full swing. If you hadn’t known already, singer/composer/pianist/timbales virtuoso Tito Puente is actually Puerto Rican and not Cuban – and this was the period that ushered Puerto Rican musicians into the New York/Latin music scene (Tito Rodriguez, Noro Morales, et al). Prior to that, most bandleaders were Cuban, but everyone seemed to collaborate well together. Cuban singer Vicentico Valdés actually sings with Puente on Lagrimas Negras (one of my favorite songs) and I am quite sure Tito Puente’s band reflected the pan-Latin melting pot that was New York at the time. I have more Tito Puente 45’s somewhere, but if my life and office weren’t such a mess……perhaps I’ll amend the post later if I find more. Enjoy!
1. Tito Puente: Lagrimas Negras
2. Tito Puente: Swinging The Mambo
3. Tito Puente: Lare Lare
Published November 12, 2011
Afro Latin , Latin Jazz , Latin Roots
The Cuban Jam Sessions were a series of records produced and released by the New York record label Panart in the late 50’s. The series started when bass player Israel Lopez (Cachao) would gather a group of musicians and began recording late night/early morning jam sessions in Havana Cuba in 1957. The culmination of their efforts would result in probably the most influential form of Latin American music and the creation of the descarga, a musical improvisation or literally a “letting loose”.
Most of the songs on these records are standards and not much is new in terms of musical form. The vocabulary of popular Cuban music, the mix of European and afro-cuban influence can be heard throughout these tracks. It was more or less the minimal, raw approach taken to the music – a move away from the more orchestrated/sugar-coated mambo sound of the time. Much like American jazz, which similarly began composing “music in the moment”. Theses records had some success when originally released, however it is said that their influence reached many other musicians and genres of Latin American music – from Latin Jazz, Salsa, to Cumbia, to most present day forms of tropical music. Please enjoy.
1. Cachao y Su Ritmo Caliente: Cogele el Golpe
2. Cachao y Su Ritmo Caliente: Descarga Cubana
3. Cachao y Su Ritmo Caliente: Sorpresa de Flauta
4. Cachao y Su Ritmo Caliente: Estudio En Trompeta
5. Julio Gutierrez: Theme On Mambo
6. Julio Gutierrez: Cimarron
7. Niño Rivera: Montuno Guajiro
8. Fajardo and His All-Stars: La Flauta de Jose
9. Fajardo and His All-Stars: La Charanga
Published February 11, 2011
Cumbia , Latin Jazz
Can you see that I’ve been doing for the last 3 days? Anyone want to guess what I’ll do tomorrow? Well whatever it is, I promise it will be more extensive than this post. More swing than jazz – but I gotta run! Work and dj gig tonight. Go go go!!! Enjoy!
1. Pacho Galan: Afinando Los Trombones
Three completely different approaches to 1950’s mambo from three of the greatest musicians in the business. Perez Prado’s take on this genre clearly stands out head and shoulders above the rest. Especially with the chaotic, dizzying brass arrangements, to his signature grunt (he is actually grunting ¡Dilo! which translates to “Say it!”). Way more on the Afro-Cuban rhythm tip than his Puerto Rican contemporaries Tito Puente and Tito Rodríguez (peep the stand-out track Babarabatiri).
I grew up listening to Tito Puente, so in a way it’s almost like listening to Jimi Hendrix. I love and have tons of respect for both musicians, who were both kings of their genres at one time, but I think my ears have heard way too much. Perhaps it’s a bit too mainstream or too polished. Note that Puente’s American jazz/Big Band influence even comes out in the song I provided. On the other hand, Tito Rodríguez’s arrangements were a pleasant surprise. I must have owned this 78 rpm for over 7 years and I’ve never listened to it. And I’m really liking the heavy emphasis on the vocals.
Anyway, pardon all the hissing, skips, and pops. It’s safe to say that these 78’s & 33’s are older than your parents. I also threw in “Mambo Del Fut Bol” since the World Cup is about to begin. Honduras is one of the 3 biggest underdogs, so I want them to win. Central American Love. Nicaragua sucks at futbol. We are only good at baseball and boxing, basically throwing balls and beating each other up. ¡Bárbaro!
1. Perez Prado: Mambo Del Fut Bol
2. Perez Prado: Mambo No. 8
3. Perez Prado con Benny Moré: Babarabatiri
4. Tito Puente: Cha Cha Mambo
5. Tito Rodríguez: Joe Lustig Mambo
6. Tito Rodríguez: Besame La Bembita
Published February 16, 2010
Brazil , Latin Jazz
Sorry folks but I actually don’t own too many Brazilian 45’s. And since it’s Fat Tuesday, I needed to grab something as close to it.
Some great cross-over bossa nova music from the old school to the new school. Vibraphonist Gary Mcfarland was probably more on the Latin tip than jazz guitar slinger Kenny Burrell. But both really capture that mod/latin/soul jazz sound of the era. Tossed in a track from Bronx River Parkway, which I did a PR piece for a while back. Their number Deixa Pra La (Portuguese anyone?) is actually a cover from an older bossa number, which just seemed to merge really well with the other two songs I posted today.
1. Kenny Burrell: Hot Bossa
2. Gary McFarland: Fried Bananas
3. Bronx River Parkway: Deixa Pra La
Published February 15, 2010
Latin Jazz , Latin Roots
Man I got like 10 minutes to finish this post before midnight. Either I’m the Cinderella of audio-bloggers or a complete failure. Anyway as promised, a 45 a day until the 28th. So without wasting anymore time I give you this little jazzy guaguanco of a gem. Electric guitars? Ridiculous! On the New York Fiesta label, more or less an American world-music record label from the 50’s and 60’s. Think Putumayo of that era I suppose. Enjoy!
1. Randy Carlos And His Orchestra: Satellite U.S.A.