After getting his start with the Casino de la Playa Orchestra in his native Cuba and eventually hitting the big time in New York with Xavier Cugat, vocalist Miguelito Valdes went solo in 1942 with many of the era's best bands providing accompaniment. This incredible 1942 date with Machito's orchestra would mark the beginning of many solo ventures the singer would cut throughout a career lasting until 1978. His reputation as one of the very best, if not the top, Latin singers ever is certainly made believable after listening to the 16 prime tracks here. Whether singing behind bombastic full-band arrangements, after-hours boleros, or even percussion-only backdrops, Valdes sounds never less than commanding thanks to his powerful yet supple pipes. Highlights include Valdes' dramatic original "La Rumba Soy Yo," the early Arsenio Rodriguez composition "Yo Saluda," and a version of Noro Morales' "Bim Bam Bum" (Valdes had cut a definitive version with Cugat a year earlier and would even reprise it on a future date with Morales' band). While recorded before the days of the fiery mambo appeared on the scene, this Valdes collection still shines with a wide variety of danzon, rumba, Afro-Cuban, and guaracha rhythms. Along with prime recordings by other Latin singing greats like Beny More and Celia Cruz, this Miguelito Valdes collection is an essential disc for fans of vintage Latin big band music.
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