Harry Belafonte

Calypso in Brass

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Belafonte's third calypso album is somewhat of a disappointment. The normally meticulous artist who once scoured the archives of the Library of Congress for material could not come up with more than two new songs ("Reincarnation," "The Naughty Little Flea") that he had not already recorded. The others are mostly inferior rehashes of what had now become almost legendary performances. Why redo "Sweetheart of Venezuela" and "Jump in the Line" after the exuberant, joyous versions recorded on the Jump Up Calypso album from 1961? Or even "Tongue Tie Baby" and "Zombie Jamboree," which were still available on The Many Moods of Belafonte, which was still in print? One reason could be that Bob Bollard was no longer Belafonte's studio producer; he had been replaced by Andy Wiswell on the duet albums with Mouskouri and Makeba and then by Bill Eaton. Eaton's approach was a lot more mainstream, with orchestras eliminating the intimate guitar, bass, and percussion combo Belafonte had been using on his albums for a dozen years. The "brass" reflected by the album's title is actually a brass section inspired more by Las Vegas than Trinidad. Footnote: Eaton's co-producer on the album is a young Phil Ramone.