Heinz Records HNZ001-2CD
a welcome release this is! Spending a long afternoon at our local
musical mega-store, having our senses dulled by the pulsating boring
"sounds of today", we happened to spot Sympathique by Pink
Martini in the Easy Listening bin. With its artsy cover design,
quirky track selection and inspired band configuration (brass, strings,
harp, and Latin percussion), we thought we'd take a chance.
been underwhelmed by most neo-Lounge recordings by the young folks,
especially the overrated and underdeveloped Swing and R & B
bands. We won't name names. Sympathique plays it remarkably
straight-ahead and is unabashedly gorgeous and yet undeniably modern.
More salon music than Lounge and more intelligent than camp, this
disc is one of those gracious rarities that works as both background
and foreground music. A slightly bitter melancholy runs throughout
giving the beautiful melodies their edge.
include the opening track, Amado Mio, which was too short
when Rita Hayworth sizzled it in Gilda. This version is almost
five minutes long. Art Blakey's No Hay Problema from the
film Les Liason Dangereuses 1960 benefits from the band's
enthusiasm and modern recording techniques. The two original
tracks, Sympathique and Lullabye are respectfully
fun and moving. Instrumentals are nicely balanced with vocals and
the lack of camp is refreshing.
the down side, morose covers of Qué Sera Sera and Never
on Sunday add nothing and go on a bit too long. Other than being
done to death by everyone else, Brazil (Acuarela de Brasil)
also requires a bit more reckless abandon than Pink Martini's forte
of controlled elegance can cough up but it's enjoyable nonetheless.
a few flaws, we're giving it our highest rating.
Hendricks & Ross
The Hottest New Group in Jazz
Columbia/Legacy C2K 64933 Jazz/Vocals
easy to complain about what the major labels do wrong when it comes
to reissuing their back catalogues. Real fans tend to prefer entire
album releases with the original cover art and liner notes. The
labels prefer compilations that rarely make a real fan happy. We
can think of dozens of favorite LPs that haven't been transferred
to CD while mediocre compilation after compilation gets made. Bucking
this trend, Columbia has released its three Lambert, Hendricks &
Ross LPs plus five previously unreleased tracks on one two-CD set,
with the original album art. It's a reason to celebrate.
the 1950s, LH&R have been about the most influential jazz singers
ever, despite their rather limited recorded output. In a few short
years they set the standard for things to come. They all had solo
careers with various degrees of success but it's when they came
together that they really went to town.
three albums included are The Hottest New Group in Jazz, Lambert,
Hendricks & Ross Sing Ellington and High Flying with
the Ike Issacs Trio. We think the first disc is their finest but
all of them have much to recommend. We've spent years collecting
various Annie Ross discs based on her singing on The Hottest
New Group in Jazz. Unfortunately, she's inconsistent and these
recordings really were her shining hour (although she has some really
groovy early 78s, available now as King Pleasure Sings / Annie
Ross Sings [Prestige OJCD2172]). Jon Hendricks continued to
be the Bard of Jazz, writing lyrics to jazz solos for what seems
like almost anyone who would sing them. We admit the only other
Dave Lambert recordings we know of are pre-LH&R dates with Charlie
the uninitiated, Lambert, Hendricks & Ross sang a particular
kind of Jazz called vocalese. Hendricks would write lyrics to seminal
jazz solos rather then the original melody. It had been done before
but LH&R perfected it. Sometimes the lyrics sound forced and
often their voices pale in comparison to a sax or trumpet but it's
always swinging and more importantly, fun.
great tracks are too numerous to elaborate on but if you have even
a vague interest in Jazz, vocals, or real 1950s hipness, this is
the CD to get.
Jala, Jala Boogaloo, Volume 2
Tico SPLACD 8630 Latin
only thing more irritating about Latin music than the lack of credits
and liner notes, is the lack of humor. Serious fans often fall into
one of two camps: World music aficionados or slick Friday night
salseros. The World Beat fans stress the importance of "Afro" in
Afro-Cuban music while the Latin community that supports more the
mainstream Salsa insists on their own version of hip. We like a
good laugh now and then and we always are up for a dance, so it's
no surprise that we find the whole Boogaloo movement of the late
1960s so irresistible.
referred to as "Latin Soul", the Boogaloo light burned bright and
quickly. Taking elements of a rich Latin heritage and scaling it
down to an almost childlike consistency and mixing it with a healthy
dose of Black "Soul Power", the Boogaloo was tops for a brief moment
in time. The piano riffs were groovy percussive confections along
the lines of Cool Jerk. The lyrics were often in English
and nonsensical, flip or about the brotherhood of man and when you
think about it, why can't we all live together in peace? It confused
the older folks but young Latinos had discovered their Latin thing.
big hits of the period included Joe Cuba's Bang Bang, El
Watusi by Ray Barretto, Johnny Colon's mind-bending Boogaloo
Blues (about an acid trip) and Pete Rodriguez' I Like It
Like That, now famous thanks to a Burger King television advertisement.
At first rejected by the likes of Tito Puente, Celia
Cruz and El Gran Combo (who all went on to record their own
versions of the Boogaloo and funky Shing-a-ling), it became all
the rage until it was supposedly killed by the mighty Fania record
label, which didn't have the same pulse on the kids' taste and was
powerful enough to put an end to the fun. Part of the criticism
was that the music didn't stick to a strict clave beat, but often
the tempos would be mixed up, at one moment Mambo and funky Soul
wasn't all good. Some of it was just watered-down Soul with bongos,
the recordings are often horrid and the lyrics could make one lose
his sofrito, but when it was on the mark, it was a gas.
of the best artists was Ricardo Ray. An early album, On the Scene
With Ricardo Ray (Disco Hit DHFR1107CD), was undeniably recorded
in the 1960s but the music is either more traditional or Jazz influenced,
not completely Boogaloo. He even does a swinging version of Bud
Powell's Parisian Thoroughfare. It was with Jala, Jala
Boogaloo (Allegre SLPA8570) that he hit his funky stride. Teaming
with vocalist Bobby Cruz, they helped define the Boogaloo sound.
Cruz had a husky voice that was perfect for the times. Most of the
lyrics were in Spanish, peppered with a few English phrases like
"right on!" and "go, man, go!" Even better is Jala, Jala Boogaloo,
Volume 2. The songs and arrangements are tighter and it features
the inanely sensational Mr. Trumpet Man, the Latin Mr.
Tambourine Man. While the music is undeniably Boogaloo, it never
strays far from Ray's Latin roots. Along with the camp are slowed-down
versions of the Son Montuno and sped-up versions of other Afro-Caribbean
beats. The sound quality is pretty good and we can't imagine not
dancing, preferably in a cage suspended from the ceiling.
magic didn't last long. The same year, without vocalist Cruz, he
recorded a more Soul-oriented Let's Get Down to the Nitty Gritty
with the vocals mixed so upfront that it's hard to even hear the
band behind the generic, uncredited "soul singer". It's so bland
it's hard to imagine it's the same band.
a shame the era didn't last longer and it's confusing, maybe even
racist, that there's never been a Boogaloo revival. It's as danceable
as any Motown or Soul, and the fact that it hasn't been played into
the ground makes it a real treasure worth pursuing.
If you find yourself intrigued by the intoxicating beats of the
Boogaloo movement, you'll find it tough going finding decent titles.
A few of our suggestions, along with the Ricardo Ray titles, follow:
All Great Stars – 60's Gold
Fania/ Musica Latina SO53
are a good number of dumb tracks on this collection, but many of the
most important titles are featured, like Boogaloo Blues, Bang Bang,
I Like It Like That and Tito Puente's original version of Oye
Como Va. The Meditation by the TNT Band is hysterical.
as focused as it could be, this British release features some good
obscurities, the seminal Right On! by Ray Baretto and La Lupe's
fiery version of Fever.
Latin Soul Boogaloo
particularly good, but it's cheap and features a converted Tito Puente
doing the Boogaloo.