Friday, December 4, 2009

A Man And His Music

In its gift guide last weekend The New York Times featured a nice review by Ben Ratliff of the new CD from Tito Rodriguez, El Inolvidable: A Man And His Music – the first release from Fania since I started working with them.
The recently revived Fania Records has started reaching outside itself, giving new life to the catalogs of artists it never recorded. Here’s Tito Rodriguez, a singer and bandleader who lit up Afro-Latin music from the mid-’40s to the mid-’60s. (At which point he finally lost his drawn-out battle for mambo dominance with Tito Puente, relocated to his native Puerto Rico and died in 1973.) This exemplary set — taken from long-out-of-print records made during the ’60s — includes luxe big-band tracks and smaller, more intense conjunto jam-sessions, as well as live recordings from the Palladium, the locus of New York’s mambo-mania. There’s also a fascinating 1960 cut called “Esta Es Mi Orquesta” — possibly modeled after an earlier Stan Kenton piece called “Prologue” — in which the bandleader delivers a spoken lecture in mambo dynamics, introducing musicians one by one, letting them take their licks.
Click here to preview and buy Tito Rodriguez' El Inolvidable: A Man And His Music at The CD was also reviewed by Milo Miles on Fresh Air – click here to listen.

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