Though generally slower and more languid than the high-octane mambo that typified the Latin dance craze of the 1950s, cha-cha was a staple in the repertoire of many Latin bands at the time. The great Tito Puente was no exception, and MUCHO CHA-CHA brings together some of Puente's best work in this vein. Cha-chas are by no means ballads--their tempos, while not frenetic, are still infectious, building on mid-tempo, sexy grooves with more slink and sway than your average mambo.
The tunes on MUCHO CHA-CHA (most of which were penned by Puente) are led by bright, brassy horn lines with a burbling undercurrent of polyrhythms moving things along. Puente's late-'50s band (the tracks here are culled from session cut in '56 and '59) was one of his best, and featured luminaries such as conguero Mongo Santamaria, bongo player Willie Bobo, and Cuban percussionist Ray Barretto. This is a charming set of classic late-'50s Latin jazz with strong tunes, brilliant arrangements, and excellent playing (despite a crack session team, Puente's timbales are not to be outdone). New digital sound, remastered directly from the analog tapes, is an added bonus.