Various Artists

Jazz Orquestas

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A sampler of some of the better Cuban jazz bands of the 1950s is long overdue, but this collection is just so-so. The brief liner notes give no worthwhile information about the bands (not even listing the personnel or dates), which one assumes are mostly drawn from the Everest catalog, and the music is erratic. Two familiar and already reissued selections, Charlie Byrd's "Bamba Samba Bossa Nova" and "Mambo Herd" by Woody Herman with Tito Puente's rhythm section, did not need to be brought back so soon. The other performances have their moments, with the music being more mambo than jazz, more commercial than creative, and somewhat derivative of the era. It is all danceable and succeeds on that level, but the overall package is not particularly memorable or essential. It could have been much better planned.

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