Willie Rodriguez

A Bunch of Bongos

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Unlike most other Command/Grand Award albums of the period, A Bunch of Bongos is fairly hip and essential. Its supporting cast includes Ray Barretto, Johnny Pacheco, Jack del Rio, and Roger "King" Mozian, four major stars. The tempo is consistently upbeat: big and brassy but not in the gimmicky style typical of Enoch Light. The selections are mostly better standards, including sambas. Along with albums by Fernandez Pray and Russ Garcia, A Bunch of Bongos leads the field of big-band Latin, or Latinate orchestral percussion. Bongos by the bunch? Not really, except on a few, such as the torpid "Baia." The title really means all manners of Latin percussion.

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