La Sonora Matancera

Ahi Viene

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La Sonora Mantancera's international fame rests partly with their 15-year run as singer Celia Cruz' backup band. From 1950 until 1965, the group provided Cuba's best-known diva with all manner of sophisticated backdrops, ranging from mambos and rumbas to the slower dance rhythms of the bolero and danzon. In fact, from the their beginnings as a conjunto in the '20s up through the '70s, the band's solid reputation made them the preferred backing band of practically all the famous singers from Cuba and the Latin world. The group has also gained notoriety as one of the major inspirations for the New York salsa boom of the '60s and '70s. On this fine Palladium release (originally put out by the Seeco label), La Sonora Mantancera certainly offer up some fine proto-salsa moments, especially on medium-tempo cuts like "Djame Ya Mujer" and "Guillate." Also included are classic mambo performances like "Oye Mima" and many sultry boleros featuring the svelte but sturdy pipes of renowned Cuban singer Celio Gonzalez (he is heard on all the tracks). Cut around 1960, when the band and Cruz left Cuba following Castro's rise to power, Ahi Viene La Sonora Mantancera is a great slice of big band Cuban music made before Eddie Palmieri and Willie Colon officially ushered in the boogaloo and salsa era, taking Afro-Cuban music in yet another direction.

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