Fly Me To The Moon And The Bossa Nova Pops

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So you thought ‘New Beat’ was a term invented by Belgians in the late ’80s? Check this extract from the sleeve notes:

“The Bossa Nova began in 1958, in the cafes of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Gradually, word of this “New Beat” filtered across to this continent, first by musicians, and then into a broader stream of fans. As of this writing, the stream referred to might more accurately be called a torrent. Bossa Nova is the child of the samba, with jazz overtones and a subtler rhythm than the samba. It’s hypnotic percussion, slightly off-beat, may puzzle at first, until the listener discovers that this is an integral part of the New Beat, along with it’s freedom of form.”

The label on this album by Joe Harnell states ‘first published in 1962′, only four years on from the birth of the bossa, so one might infer that this is one of the earlier examples of the styles’ appropriation by the White Man, recorded for Kapp Records in New York. There is a discernably higher energy level compared to the more languid form of easy listening that bossa would become as the decade wore on, though there is a tendency to swamp the arrangements with big string sections. I prefer the more stripped-back examples – just piano and rhythm section – with their smokey, intimate atmospheres. Blimey, it’s almost like proper jazz!

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Published in: on January 20, 2010 at 9:59 am  Comments (1)  
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Stanley Black Plays for Latin Lovers.

Hey darling – wanna be rubbed down by bean-filled Maracas – let me Rumba-Shaker you till it burns ….   beat out a pounding groove and generally send ya into orbit (sad continuation attempt of the previous few postings space theme !!) ..

Lets face it – this babe is getting on down – now what makes me wonder is what the heck to – now if this had been recorded 40 years later or so – you might suspect and excessive intake of some mind-altering-dance-inducing stimulant was at work.  You see the grooves on this disc whilst being undoubtedly Latin in vibe – and excellent executed in style – are really a laid-back piano-led affair – much more suited for sitting around, and letting the delicate rhythms caress you into submission …. ahhhh …

So the question is – what the heck is she on ??

Published in: on January 15, 2010 at 10:39 am  Comments (1)  
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Back To Brazil

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Sticking with the latin sounds of ’73, here’s an unusual collection released on RCA. Unusual in the sense that all the tunes are original compositions by Pete Winslow and Jack Seymour, who were at that time in-demand composers/arrangers of music for TV, film and radio (Winslow was also the artist behind the BBC’s “Girl On The Testcard” album, which I simply must post here sometime).

Aside from the freshness of the original tunes, there’s a special flavour to this album, on account of the distinctive arrangements.  Something about the way Silvia King’s wordless vocal harmonies gel with Derek Warne’s vibraphone and Jack Emblow’s ‘Transichord’ organ, over Hadyn Jackson’s drums and Alf Bigdon’s latin percussion makes for a magical atmosphere that’s no doubt rooted in my subliminal childhood exposure to testcard muzak.

Plus, the sultry brunette on the sleeve is a total babe.

Published in: on January 7, 2010 at 10:14 am  Comments (3)  
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Summer Sambas

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And so as I stare out at this Winter Wonderland of snow and ice, confined to barracks once again, ostensibly ‘keeping an eye’ on the kids while they enjoy another day off school, what better soundtrack than some ‘summer sambas’ from 1973?

Duncan Lamont has featured on this blog before, when my colleague posted his first Latin collection for MFP here. And if you look closely you’ll notice they used the same girl on the sleeve, probably from the same photo shoot.

Nigel Hunter’s sleeve notes provide further insight into the influence of Latin music in British culture:

The bossa nova had its brief moment of hit parade glory in Britain at the beginning of [the sixties] in the shape of Antonio Jobim’s ‘Desafinado’,  but it’s influence has remained constant in popular music ever since. The softly subtle beat of Brazil’s modern samba can be heard every day on the radio airwaves as arrangers draw upon it for colour and contrast in their scores, and it has joined and largely superseded the beguine and the bolero in that respect.  It is a matter of regret that we seldom hear genuine Brazilian tunes over those same radio airwaves, but at least the bossa rhythm has firmly and permanently implanted itself on the map of international pop music.

But perhaps not as firm and permanent as Nigel would’ve liked. As you can probably imagine, I have quite a few albums like this, but absolutely none were released after 1973. It’s like the great cut-off point, as though the market for latin music simply collapsed from ’74 onwards (surely no coincidence that this was also when the first stirrings of disco began to materialize).  For the older, middle-class swingers, this was the point where the sixties finally ended. It was time to shake their polyester slacks and leisure suits to a different drum…

Published in: on January 7, 2010 at 9:27 am  Leave a Comment  
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Matt Bianco – Whose Side Are You On

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Matt Bianco, eh? One of those ’80s groups you just accepted the existence of without really paying much attention to. This near-mint copy of their debut album had been lying around unloved in the local PDSA shop for weeks, yet it hadn’t occurred to me to actually buy the damn thing. It’s like I had a blind-spot on Matt Bianco. Then last week it just suddenly leapt out at me and shouted “Hey! I’m only 49 bloody pence, so why not give me a try?”

Matt Bianco were one of those groups, along with the likes of Modern Romance and Everything But The Girl, who tried to graft a bit of the old latin magic onto the new dance pop of the ’80s, bringing those South American grooves back in from the cold after they were so thoroughly vanquished during the disco-boom of the mid-late ’70s. The title track of this album, along with “Half A Minute” and “Get Out Of Your Lazy Bed” were big hits back in the day, very familiar to these ears and consequently high on instant nostalgia gratification. The rest of the album keeps up a pretty high standard – listening on headphones I’m particularly enjoying the densely layered percussion of “Matt’s Mood” and the sequenced basslines are surprisingly fat and funky throughout- is that the tell-tale swerve of a TB-303 I hear on “Sneaking Out The Back Door”?

I reckon the male vocalist, Mark Reilly, was outclassed by the rest of his group, but there’s no mistaking the talents of the female vocalist Basia Trzetrzelewska, who’s super-clean spangly harmonies really lift the roof off. All round, a surprisingly enjoyable experience.

Published in: on December 10, 2009 at 10:02 am  Leave a Comment  
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Luis Alberto Del Parana

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Okay, here’s ”the Real McCoy’. Luis Alberto Del Parana and Los Paraguayos, first toured Europe back in 1954, and by the time this record was released 19 years later, Luis and his crew were world-renowned performers of genuine Latin American folk music.  A native of Paraguay, Luis covered all the traditional tunes from Mexico to Argentina and everywhere in between, and his dedication to the cause made him a hero in his homeland: whenever he returned home from touring, the Paraguayan army would lay-on a guard of honour at the airport, and then a presidential limo with police escort would whisk him away to his riverside mansion.

Published in: on December 4, 2009 at 7:28 am  Leave a Comment  
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Latin Rendezvous

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How long has it been since you heard the sound of burning-bright Mediterranean sunshine? When did you last listen to the colour-splashed beaches of a blue-bordered Spanish bay? Have you ever let your ears take in the magnificent beauty of a Latin girl’s flowing black hair?  Do you long to hear again the panoramic splendour of a luxuriant Italian valley? These and hundreds more audio pictures will leap out of your ears, grasp the attention of your mind’s eye, conjure up past memories and future dreams, when you play this irresistable new Mantovani programme.

So, here we have The Mantovani Orchestra‘s first Latin album, but this ain’t yer typical South American easy vibes. The focus here is on the more classically inclined music of Southern Europe, and the sound is big, brash and beautiful.

According to Tony Barrow’s sleeve notes, this album came about as a result of a competition, where fans of Mantovani were invited to submit an album title and tracklist for his next record. The winner, a Mr. Angelo Ruggerio of Milford, New Jersey, was flown to London in 1963 to meet Mantovani and watch him work on the recording of this album. He was also given an exciting sight-seeing tour of the UK capital.

Published in: on December 3, 2009 at 7:46 am  Leave a Comment  
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Tequila Cocktail

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At some point in it’s life, those cut-throats at the Notting Hill Music & Video Exchange were asking a fiver for this record.  By the time it found it’s way into the Cotham branch of Oxfam, it was priced at a far more sensible 99p. I wasn’t familiar with the work of Pepe Jaramillo, but those magic words ‘and his Latin American Rhythm’ (plus the sultry brunette on the sleeve) were enough to convince me to part with my pennies.

As the title suggests, this is classic Latin-flavoured cocktail lounge piano schmaltz, for the sophisticated party-goer of 1971. As the blurb on the back says:

“Take twelve good pieces of music and add to them Pepe Jaramillo and his Latin American Rhythm – this will give you the perfect ‘Tequila Cocktail’ and set the mood for any kind of cocktail party or just set a relaxed mood for anything.

Many of the songs in this album are favourites to be heard in cocktail lounges around the world, and Pepe adds his own ingredient to give a smooth, warm sound to titles like “My Way”, “Loneliness”, “The Look Of Love” and “The Shadow Of Your Smile”.

The title ‘Tequila Cocktail’ is Pepe’s own composition and this adds that little extra ‘pepper’ to hot up any cocktail party.

If you are going to have a long cocktail party you might well take a look at the other Pepe Jaramillo albums that are available and keep the party in the true Latin American mood.”

Well, after chilling with a Margarita to this baby, I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for Pepe’s other recordings, including ‘Mexican Champagne‘, and the intriguingly titled ‘Latin Piano in Japan‘.

Published in: on December 2, 2009 at 5:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Super Stereo Sound Sampler

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Turntable + vinyl + sofa + attractive (slightly tipsy?) female = the perfect recipe for a quiet night in.

This record was “designed simply and solely as a showcase – a shop window for a most attractive series of specially designed and recorded LPs. The wide variety of sounds and moods are a cross-section of the albums currently available in Mercury’s Super Stereo catalogue.”

Quincy Jones makes an appearance with his Big Band, and Peter Knight has a crack at orchestrating “Lovely Rita”, but the best track by a mile is “Tally Man” by Big Jim Sullivan, taken from an album called Sitar Beat, which I will definitely be keeping my eyes peeled for, though I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s quite a kitschy collectable among psychedelia fans.

Published in: on November 27, 2009 at 1:41 pm  Comments (2)  
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Caramba!

It’s Monday once more, and as I stare out yet again at the blustery, rain-sodden English landscape, time to break out some more of those exotic sounds of yesteryear, but this time with an emphasis on big orchestral arrangements of the Latin/Mexican/South American numbers. Nevermind that, if you actually visited most of these places today, you’d be dodging bullets in drug-gang controlled warzones to a soundtrack of gangster rap – just give me The Mexican Hat Dance, The Peanut Vendor, Tequila, and all those old rumba, samba and bossa grooves, as performed by the orchestras of Roberto Delgado, Erwin Halletz, Bert Kaempfert, Ray Martin, Edmundo Ros, Mantovani and others…

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Wow, just as I’m finishing up this post, the sunshine suddenly breaks through the clouds. That’s the power of music for you!

Published in: on November 23, 2009 at 12:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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