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Spanish language music: Mambo


Mambo is a musical form and dance style that originated in Cuba in the 1930s and 1940s and became part of the big band sound of the 1950s. It combines European ballroom dances with the rhythms of African folk music. The music traditionally combines voice, trumpets, and a rhythm section consisting of a bass, conga drum, and cowbell or timbale. Mambo tempos are moderate to rapid.


Desi Arnaz (Cuba)
CD The Best of Desi Arnaz: The Mambo King [1992] • LISTENBUY CD | CD 1937-1947 [1998] • LISTENBUY CD
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Lou Bega (Germany / Uganda, Sicily)
CD Little Bit of Mambo [1999] • LISTEN BUY CD
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Cachao (Cuba)
CD ¡Ahora sí! [2004] • LISTENBUY CD • REVIEW: Bassist Israel "Cachao" Lopez put mambo as well as the jazzy jam sessions known as descargas on the map. The Miami-based actor/percussionist Andy Garcia resurrected him from obscurity with the popular Master Sessions recordings in the 1990s. This CD and DVD, recorded at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles, is Cachao's fourth collaboration with Garcia. The ageless bandleader's deep arco and pizzicato basslines anchor an all-star group, which includes salsa trombonist Jimmy Bosch, timbalero Orestes Vilato, and tresguitarist Neslon Gonzalez. They lay down the Afro-Cuban rhythms that range from the changui to the rumba. "Mambo Cambio de Swing" links Havana to Harlem, while "Guajira Clasica" marries Bartokian style with the Cuban countryside. "Queja Africana/Protesta Abakua" is laced with Justo Almario's Coltrane-tinged saxophone and completes the transcultural influences of this great musician. -- Review by Eugene Holley, Jr.

CD Cuba linda [2000] • LISTENBUY CD | CD Master Sessions • Vol. 1 [1994], LISTENBUY CD, Vol. 2 [1995] LISTEN
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Celia Cruz (Cuba / USA)
CD100% Azúcar!: The Best of Celia Cruz [1997] • LISTENBUY CD | CD Regalo del Alma [2003] • LISTENBUY CD | CD Mi vida es cantar [1998] • LISTENBUY CD | CD Celia in the House: Classic Hits Remixed [2003] • LISTENBUY CD
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Xavier Cugat (Spain / Cuba)
CD The Original Latin Dance King [2002] • LISTENBUY CD • REVIEW: One of Latin music's original 20th-century superstars of stage, record, and screen, the bandleader born Francisco de Asis Javier Cugat Mingall de Cru y Deulofeo may have delivered the rumba, tango, and mambo with a slick mainstream veneer, but it was precisely those shrewd commercial instincts that undoubtedly brought a rich, rhythm-charged world of music to audiences who might never otherwise have been exposed to it. The 23 gloriously remastered tracks here span the '40s and '50s, an era when "Cugie" was a household name due to his myriad radio and film appearances. The material ranges from an energetic 1941 Miguelito Valdes performance of the Afro-Cuban staple (and later Desi Arnaz signature tune) "Babalu" and a Cugie-ized take on Tito Puente's evergreen "Suavecito" to more jazz-kitschy renditions of "The Brand New Cha-Cha" and "The Anything Can Happen Mambo" by third wife Abbe Lane (Cugat would later marry pop culture icon Charro). The mambo and merengue fads of the '40s and '50s are also given their due via Pérez Prado's "Mambo Jambo" and "A Bailar Merengue" respectively. Machito may have been more "authentic," but few could quibble with the effervescence and missionary zeal Cugat brought to Latin music for eight remarkable decades. Let this be your appetizer. -- Review by Jerry McCulley

CD Golden Classics [1995] • LISTENBUY CD | CD South America, Take It Away: 24 Latin Hits [1997] • LISTENBUY CD | CD 16 Most Requested Songs [1995] • LISTEN
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Machito (Cuba / USA)
CD Mambo Mucho Mamba [2002] • LISTENBUY CD | BOX SET Ritmo caliente [2002] • LISTENBUY CD | CD Mucho Macho: Machito & His Afro-Cuban Salseros [1991] • LISTENBUY CD
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Beny Moré (Cuba)
CD Cuban Originals [1999] • LISTENBUY CD • REVIEW: Aside from being Buena Vista Social Club alumni, what else do Omara Portuondo and Eliades Ochoa have in common? They've both issued releases that include songs originally made famous by the great Beny Moré. After a successful Mexican tour with Conjunto Matamoros, the Cuban vocalist made his first big splash at the microphone of Pérez Prado's supercharged mambo machine (check out the overheated "Pachito E' Che 1950") before taking the reins of an orchestra of his own in 1954. Most Cuban singers are known for their deftness with the romantic bolero or the more aggressive mambo styles, but Moré excelled in both areas. On "Y Hot Como Ayer," recorded in 1955, he glides from a midregister croon to effortless trumpetlike glissandos, his big band pulsating behind him, while he plays a sonero to a T on 1957's "Que Bueno Baila Usted," one of many memorable songs he penned himself. This excellent introduction to Moré's career includes newly remastered songs originally released from 1949 to 1958. -- Review by Bob Tarte

CD Lo mejor de lo mejor [2001] • LISTENBUY CD | CD Serie platino - 20 exitos [1997] • LISTENBUY CD
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Pérez Prado - "King of the Mambo" (Cuba)
CD Cuban Originals [1999] • LISTENBUY CD • REVIEW: Pérez Prado may not have invented the mambo, but he invented the style of mambo most people remember. The Cuban-born Prado had his first success developing his high-octane variation on the son montuno in Mexico in 1949. His angular arrangements with chugging rhythms were too radical for the Cuban recording establishment, but not for the Mexican film industry. Prado became the musical director sought by leading producers, and his soundtracks attracted deserved attention back home--leading to a fruitful collaboration with vocalist Beny Moré. Many of the songs here bear the stamp of Prado's cinematic sweep, like "Sabor a Mi," where a picaresque muted trumpet scales peaks of throbbing brass, or the bombastic annunciation of "Besame Mucho." Because he was so ambitiously modernist, his oeuvre still sounds fresh today. A lightning-bug version of "Flight of the Bumblebee" casts off impressive solos with the nonchalance of a clown juggling while turning cartwheels. Gaudy and irresistible, these instrumentals--including two of Prado's earliest mambos--cross-pollinate swing era big band music and Afro-Cuban rhythms with the delicacy of a cymbal crash. Extra bonus: two songs prefiguring Prado's No. 1 American hit "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White." -- Review by Bob Tarte

CD Lo mejor de lo mejor [2001] • LISTENBUY CD | CD Mambo Mania / Havana 3am [1994] • LISTENBUY CD | CD Voodoo Suite / Exotic Suite of the Americas [1990] • LISTENBUY CD
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Tito Rodriguez (Puerto Rico)
CD The Best of Tito Rodriguez, Vol. 3 [1994] • LISTEN BUY CD
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