Rosemary Clooney / Pérez Prado

A Touch of Tabasco

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On paper, this unlikely pairing of American popular vocalist Rosemary Clooney (who nearly defined the 1950s as a stylist) and Cuban percussionist and bandleader Pérez Prado seemed to be a disaster in the making. The end result is quite the opposite. Recorded during two sessions in July and August of 1959, this is simply one of the loveliest albums in either artist's catalog. The music is lively and colorful but retains Clooney's smooth and mellow character, and Prado's trademark arrangements and experiments with percussion, texture, and harmony. Apparently, Clooney had some trouble with pronunciation initially, but was coached by her husband, Puerto Rican actor Jose Ferrer (who wrote the original album's liner notes) and became a quick study. This merging of Latin and American standards is a tour de force that features some of the hottest session players in the biz including drummers Leo Acosta and Earl Palmer, as well as horn players Paul Horn and Ollie Mitchell. Highlights of the set include "Mack the Knife," "Sway," a pair of Cole Porter tunes -- "Bali Hai," and "You Do Something to Me" -- as well as highly original readings of "Corazon de Melon," "Cu-Cu-Rru-Cu-Cu Paloma," and "Adios."

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