Pérez Prado

Al Compas del Mambo (1950-52)

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This Perez Prado import collects 25 excellent tracks by the Cuban bandleader. Covering his initial period of fame from 1950-1952, the tracks feature Prado's unique synthesis of original mambo rhythms (originated in 1938 by the Cuban orchestra of Antonio Arcano) and big-band jazz. This infectious blend of Afro-Cuban percussion and frenetically syncopated brass and reeds would garner Prado the title "King of the Mambo" in 1950, following a hugely successful residency at Mexico City's Margo Theater (with singer Beny Moré) and a subsequent West Coast tour. Although equally feted contemporaries Tito Puente and Tito Rodriquez laid claim to the crown, it was Prado, with the unparalleled excitement of his mostly instrumental repertoire, who won out. Tumbao's Al Compás del Mambo might not include many of the hits that brought it all about ("Que Rico El Mambo," "Patricia," "Mambo No. 5,"), but it does have more than enough high-quality, Prado-penned mambo swingers to keep fans satisfied. Highlights include the sultry groove on "Mama Y Tata"; the collection's one big hit, "Lupita"; and the incredibly dramatic, multi-tempo cut "Muchachita." And added bonuses heard on this and most Prado recordings include the maestro's inventive and tumultuous piano solos and his band's stellar playing. A fine collection, one fit for all those interested in Prado's prime mambo work during the late '40s and early '50s.