The George Shearing Quintet- Latin Escapade

Really killing it with the Latin flavored music this week.  I am not sure why.  I just kind of ended up this way.  Well, this was $2.

I have noted on the last post by George Shearing that he a) was blind and b) played at the ultra-elite Bohemian Groove (which attendee Richard Nixon described as the most gayest thing he had ever seen),  I can’t help but think the two points are strongly related.  Well, world conspiracy theories aside, here is this record  from Capitol Records in 1957.  A pretty good mix of Latin numbers as well as standards done in a Latin way.  I was really surprised how much I liked this album as I normally find Shearing’s work pretty middle of the road.  I think it was one of the more exiting records I listened to this month.

Anyway, for a sample, I went with “Anitra’s Nañigo” as well as “Poodle Mambo”.

Good record that really came out of left field.  Satisfactory.

Guadalajara Brass- Around The World

This was $1.  The track list was impressive.  The cover suggested a cheap Tijuana Brass knock off, which was popular during the latin explosion of the sixties.

Well, that more or less is what this is.  I could not find much info on the “band” itself but one source suggested that this might have been a legitimate band and not some consortment of studio musicians thrown together by Coronet/Premier Records.

In doing research, I came across a posting of this record from a fellow music blogger, Unearthed In The Atomic Attic.  His review is less than positive some of their previous work stating it was “so bad and not bad good”.   I am going to be honest, this is not a great album.  But in that line of honesty, you kind of had to know what this was going to sound like before purchase and that is exactly what I said above, a cheap Tijuana Brass knock off.

Link to Unearthed in The Atomic Age

That being said, I am sure this came out sometime in the late 60’s.  Other than that, I do not know much else about the subject.  A lot of common instrumentals at the time, including “Moon River”, “Midnight in Moscow”, and what was one of the MORE popular tunes of the era (and keeping the alliteration up), “Mondo Cane” or “More”, which is what I used as a sample. For the record, this song has less of the brass on it and is more string driven.

Eh, meh.  I know.  I kind of knew what this would sound like and it was dirt cheap but I was hoping for more and not just the song.


Caterina Valente with Edmundo Ros – Silk ‘N Latin

When I was going thru my records, I was really surprised I had this album because I had no recollection of buying it.  I mean this happens time to time with lessor albums, but for two big names that I have posted on this blog (and whose records I have enjoyed), I found it strange that I would not remember buying this.  But the fact is, I do not.  It seems I would be really stoked to see this album. Somehow I got this for what was $6.  I bought this this year as well which makes my lack of recollection even sadder.

But here we are with this, a joint effort from two international superstars who are (or at least were) pretty famous on the other side of the ocean. Apparently, the two had done some significant work together, prior to this. From London Records in 1969 ( a lot of records this month are from 1969 or 1970- strange), this record features these two in a collection of latin tunes which in reality, sounds more Brazilian like Sergio Mendes or so.  A lot of samba tunes.  Real good album.  I was a bit underwhelmed by the first side, but the second side really hit it out of the park.  

For a sample, I went with the duo’s take on the Beatles “Fool On The Hill” as well as “O Meu Violau”.

Would have been a good album if this was just by one of them.  Together, it is great.  Satisfactory,

Nico Gomez and His Orchestra- Fiesta Braziliana 2

Here is another record that I bought last November when I was in Amsterdam.  It was one Euro. At the time of this writing, I am having a fierce internal debate as to whether I should go back to Amsterdam this year for vacation.  God knows I need it.  Money is tight though.  Well, I am sure by the time you read this, I will have already made up my mind as to if I am going or not.  

This record comes from one Joseph van het Groenewoud, born in Amsterdam in 1925 and resettled in Belgium in 1947.  He was active in the 1950’s thru the 1970’s, mostly in latin flavored jazz.  He recorded a slew of records under the alias Nico Gomez as well as a couple under Peter Loland.  He would pass in 1992 but his son, Raymond, became a famous Belgian musician in his own right.

This record by its title, would imply that this is Brazilian music.  I tend to disagree. The titles and the music would imply more of a Mexican sound.  Perhaps there is not much differentiation in styles when you are in Europe, but in this hemisphere, it is pretty noticeable.  But overall, it is still a good little album. 

For a sample, I went with “La Bamba” which is a Mexican standard.

Decent record.  I was hoping for something more Brazilian in nature, but the price is still right for the music. Satisfactory.

Trio Del Norte & Trio Los Aquilluchos- Saludos Amigos

This little gem was a dollar.  I tried rolling the dice on this to see what kind of latin music I would be getting myself into.

I do not know much about this record other than what is on the sleeve. The title translates into “Greetings, Friend”.  Released on the Sutton label, a budget label who sold in supermarkets rather than record stores, this is a collection of latin music, mostly bolero and ranchera style.  My guess is that this came out sometime in the sixties.  I suppose if I was a bit more up to snuff on my latin cultures, I might be able to pinpoint where this music came from but not today, I am afraid. My money is Mexico.

For a sample, I went with “Vieja Celosa”.  It is a ranchera and reminds me of the music they play when Liberty Valance gets shot in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance although not shown below.

As far as this record goes, I got a lot of milage out of it.  I liked it.  Satisfactory.

Mantovani- Latin Rendezvous

This was $4.00.  It had a lot of songs that I like on it. 

This record, released by London Records, was pretty novel.  A competition was held to chose 12 songs with a format or title theme for Mantovani’s next album.  The winner would be flown to England for sightseeing plus viewing of the recording of the chosen songs. Pretty cool idea.

The winner of the contest was one Angeleo Ruggiero from Milford, New Jersey.   Hope he was not trying to get to the beach two weekends ago.  Anyway, Angeleo and his wife were flown to London, had dinner with Mantovani, and watched him put this album together.  I wondered at the time of this writing if Angeleo was any relation to Lefty Ruggiero of Donnie Brasco fame or the any other crime family members.

According to the entry form, Angeleo nailed this record but I find it kind of amazing that Mantovani had not recorded these songs before.  They are latin standards including such works as “Granada”, “Malaguena”, “Perfidia”, and “Siboney”.  But regardless, here they are.  A pretty good album.  It is one of his more lively efforts.  It also came out in 1963.

For a sample, I went with “Andalucia” or better known as ” The Breeze and I”.  Poor little “Perfidia”, though.  That is two albums this month that I passed on this song.

Anyway, this is a much better Mantovani album that some of them I have posted in the past.  Satisfactory.

Xavier Cugat and his Orchestra- Cugat’s Favorites

Coming along to the end of Continental week, here is this record.  It was $2.00.  I like Cugat’s work and a bunch of good songs.  Please note that I posted my perennial favorite song to post, “Brazil”, on an early record I did of his.

This record, released in Custom High Fidelity by Mercury Records in 1955, is a collection of previous recorded tunes, culminated together as the master’s favorites.  Pretty decent album.  A lot of good songs.  Besides my favorite, there is “Green Eyes” Walter Winchell Rhumba”, “A Gay Ranchero”, “Linda Mujer”, “Siboney”, “Cucaracha Mambo” and “Donte Estabas Tu”.  Some songs are instrumental. Other have female vocals. A few have Cugat singing as well.  Good album altogether.

For samples, I had a lot of choices.  I narrowed them down to two.  “Linda Mujer” and “Donde Estabas Tu”.

Good album.  Satisfactory.

The Mariachi Brass Featuring Chet Baker- A Taste of Tequila

Welcome back to Continental Week . Although this may not fall under the true definition of Continental music, it definitely belongs with the other records I have posted this month.  It was $3.  I got it for the inclusion of Chet Baker.  I would love to put some of his solo work on this site but it is hard to come by and probably not under $5.


IMDB Link to Movie

On the flight overseas I made in November, I watched the Baker Biopic Born to Be Blue.  A Canadian/ UK production filmed in Sudbury, Ontario and released in 2015, it was my favorite movie from the trip.  I thought it was fantastic for two reasons.

Baker was very prolific both early and late in his career.  In the middle, there was a period of struggle and that is the period in which this film is set.  That is first reason I really liked it.  This period made for a good story.  It showed his struggle to get clean off drugs, to learn to play the horn again, and to compete with Miles Davis and the East Coast sound.  Second, I thought Ethan Hawke did an excellent job in his portrayal of Baker.  Hawke was not playing a pretty boy.  He was playing a former pretty boy.

There is a brief scene in the movie (as well as the above trailer), in which Baker was struggling to get work and takes any job he can get.  One such job is with the Mariachi Brass.  In the movie he is wearing a sombrero in the studio. And that is pretty close to the truth.  Baker joined this quickly assembled response to Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass.  Not really highlighted in the movie was the fact that Baker played flugelhorn on the album, quite possibly because his embouchure was still healing due to be broken by a drug dealer over non-payment of services rendered. This scene was also shown in the movie as well.

And since I was over in that part of the world, I stopped by the hotel where Baker overdosed in Amsterdam.

Baker released five albums with the Brass. This album, released in 1966, was the first, I believe.  Arranged and conducted by Jack Nitzsche, this album has a decent selection of songs with a Latin tint to them.  It should go without saying but this is not among Baker’s best work.  In fact, it is rather uninspiring.  What it is is an interesting picture of a period of struggle for Baker, the same as the biopic.  It is also interesting to hear Baker on an instrument other than trumpet.

There are some decent moments on this.  Two country standards, “Flowers On The Wall” and “El Paso” come to mind.  That is why I am using them as samples.

For the most part, this is meh territory.  But seriously, go see Born To Be Blue.  I thought it was a great film.



Joe Loss and His Orchestra- Go Latin With Loss

This gem was all of 80 cents.  A lot of notes on the back.  I like that.  It makes my job of reviewing the record easier.

One of the underlying reasons I went to Amsterdam last month was to have duck for Thanksgiving at the same Chinese restaurant I have gone to in the past.  The Resturant Golden Chopsticks. The place I go is on Damstraat.  I chose duck because it is the closet thing to turkey that I can find.  I started going to Amsterdam around Thanksgiving because I get two extra days of holidays .  That week also played well with Champions League so originally, I could go overseas and catch the two games live.  I did that twice.  Anyway, I had my duck on Thanksgiving.  It was pretty good.  

Joe Loss (1909-1999) was a popular British band leader from Spitafields, London. His band, the Joe Loss Orchestra was one of the most popular big bands of the 1940’s.  

This album is a tribute to the Latin styles of music.  It features various forms including tangos, rumbas, sambas, and cha cha’s among others.  Most of the songs are instrumental but there are a few with vocals, performed by Ross McManus.  McManus would later have a son who would become Elvis Costello.  Back to this record, there are a lot of really good moments.  Overall, it is a great album.

According to the previous owner’s notes, the album opens up with “Guitar Tango”, which is noted as being too fast.  The owner also did not like several songs on the back.  These are noted with X’s.  The previous owner really liked “Kissin” as well as “Sucu Sucu” which was noted with “this one”.  Aside from the notes, I really liked the songs above as well as “Parakeet”, “Nicola”, and “La Bamba”. 

I had a hard time picking samples as most of this album is good. Off the bat, I am including “Quando Caliente El Sol” as it has McManus’ vocals on it.  I really liked “Nicola” and ‘Parakeet” despite having X’s written next to them.  Finally, I am posting “Sucu Sucu’ because the previous owner loved it.  I think it is ok.  Not great or nothing.

Whew, four samples.  Looks like I need to do a better job of editing myself.  Oh well.  As far as this record goes, I think it is great.  Satisfactory.

The 50 Guitars of Tommy Garrett- The Best Of

dscn5534This was a dollar. It had a lot of songs that I like on it, although between the time I bought this and now, I am kind of played out on the generic Latin sound.snuffgarrett2016

Despite the title of the band, Tommy “Snuff” Garrett does not play the guitars on this album.  Garrett, rather, produced these albums.  Garret was born in Dallas in 1938.  While working as a DJ in Lubbock, he became pals with Buddy Holly. In 1959, he became the staff producer for Liberty Records in Hollywood.  Having a knack for recognizing hit songs, he worked with a variety of acts including Bobby Vee, Johnny Burnette, and Gary Lewis and the Playboys. After leaving Liberty, he worked with a variety of other artist and remained active producing hit songs.  He would die in Tuscon, AZ in 2015.rs14499_wreckingcrew-tommytedesco-qut

Garrett produced a string of records under the 50 Guitars moniker between 1961 and 1969.  There were around 25 records in the series.  Several of them made the Bilboard charts. The main guitarist on the album was none other than Tommy Tedesco.  Tedesco (1930-1977) was a celebrated session guitarist .  Known as the most recorded guitarist in history, Tedsco worked with the Mamas and Pappas, Ricky Nelson, Elvis, both Nancy and Frank Sinatra, Cher, Frank Zappa, the Beach Boys, and Barbra Streisand.  He worked on soundtracks, released his own recordings, and was a member of the Wrecking Crew, a group of elite session musicians in Los Angeles. Tedesco had an interesting column in Guitar Player (the most serious of guitar magazines of the era), called Studio Log in which he described a session, the challenges presented, how he overcame them, the wages earned, and the equipment used. He would die of lung cancer at age 67.

Link to a sample of the column including playing with Frank Zappa

Column from his work on the Waltons

This album is a greatest hits collection, released in 1968.  The songs are all popular Latin numbers including “Guadalajra”, “La Bamba”, “The Girl From Ipanema”, “Mexican Hat Dance”, “Guantanamera” and “Malguena”.  The arrangements are ok, all guitar driven, mostly of the nylon string variety. Tedesco’s playing is top notch.dscn5535

For a sample, I went with “The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly”.tommy-tedesco-promo-photo

Meh.  The problem with this album is there is no variety.  I mean it is all nylon string guitar.  Could use a bit more instrumentation and color on this.  I know it is 50 Guitars and all, but at least some percussion flavor would have made this more interesting. This is in no way an indictment against Tedesco, whose playing on this album is excellent. It is just that this falls in more of an elevator music category.