Jack Costanzo

Latin Fever

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Typical of most Liberty products of the era, Latin Fever features a gorgeous, if perfectly lewd, jacket, which of course has no particular relevance to the musicians. Costanzo gets to reprise "The Peanut Vendor" ("El Manisero"), which was one of his three big spotlight numbers under Stan Kenton. Better are the five originals, however, including a deadly hip bass spotlight, "Bajo Numero Uno." (Sounds like a precursor to Perez Prado's seven-minute funk version of something that turns out in the last half-minute to be "Tequila.") Eddie Cano enjoys playing standards by Noro Morales and the Lecuonas in this group. While "Taboo" loses some of its exoticism with the bongos, it regains it with Alcaraz' flute. And "Malaguena" here is an excuse for a nearly eight-minute jam! Finally, "Drum-A-Mania" is a Mr. Bongo solo. Costanzo's enormous talent (or perhaps just the in-your-face mix of his bongos) is largely wasted on anything less than the beatnik jive of "Googie." Latin music requires much more subtlety, more sparseness than this. Of course, this is really just a bongo showcase; it is feverish, though. Playing Latinate Hollywood jazz (glued to the chart, commercial, and often cheesy) and promoting both bongos and stereo, Costanzo is perfectly suited to Liberty. Indeed, there are few others of his caliber on the parent label. Note that seven of the Latin Fever tracks are available on the ten-track LP Bongo Fever on Liberty's reissue-compilation label, Sunset.

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