Sunday, August 19, 2012

#29: Tito Puente - Dance Mania (1958)

Tito Puente is the gentleman that brought us 'Oye Como Va', which was made popular by Carlos Santana. Before listening to this album, I thought this was my only encounter with Puente, however, he also drummed for Machito - a band I just recently wrote a review of. He is known as, "The King of Latin Music" and has written hundreds of songs - so I'm sure I've heard others, I just didn't know it was him.

Hong Kong Mambo
Marimbas are pretty swell. In fact, one of these decades - I'll have my own. What I loved so much about this track was while the rhythm section lays down a very latin vibe, the marimba is soloing over it. It's nothing too crazy, it's easily enough to listen to and enjoy each tone on each strike. However, there are times during the solo when the horns just bust in and play this just amazing, yet small part. The song really, really works for me because of this contrast.

Mambo Gozon
You know, it doesn't even matter what they're saying. They could be saying awful, hateful things in Spanish and I'd still think it was really, really cool. What gets me throughout this album, and specifically on this track is the horns. They're just so good. The hits, the stabs, the trills - it's just so incredibly well done. They're tastefully placed, used extremely well rhythmically and they always break up repetition with something out of left field.

Varsity Drag
This could have been the theme to 'I Love Lucy' with it's over the top latin vibe. Ricky Ricardo would have been proud. However, the part I really liked on this track was the piano solo. It's amazing how many instruments work well in soloing over their rhythm section and the pianist on this track is top notch. The solo is memorable, rich, and tasteful to the style.

All in all, I'm pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the album. The biggest thing it has going for it is contrast. I'm not used to listening to a lot of latin music, so my palette is limited. However, through different tempos, bass lines, types of solos, and instrumentation the album continues to break it up and keep things fresh. While this album is amazing to listen to when it's in the background, it also passes the test for listening as a focal point.

This album was chosen from the book '1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die' 14/1001

Tomorrow's Album: Young the Giant's self titled debut album.

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