Orlando Marin

Que Chevere, Vol. II

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New York's mid-'60s Latin music craze produced some fantastic bandleaders, many of whom are below the top layer of name-brand artists like Puente, Machito, and Rodriguez. Orlando Marin was among these lesser-known wonders. His second album, Que Chevere, Vol. II, released on the Alegre label, proves beyond doubt that though he wasn't a household name, Marin led one of the finest orchestras of his day. With a band sound so tight it's hard to believe it was a product of the "one take" era, along with clever, suave arrangements, Que Chevere deserves a place in history alongside Puente's Carnaval en Harlem or Rodriguez's Latin Twist as the finest mambo records of the mid-'60s. In "El Timbalero," Marin boastfully states, "soy el timbalero mayor" (I'm the best timbale player there is), before backing up his claim with a solo that should cause most to agree. Other highlights include scat-oriented vocal soloing on "Rico Melao" that is typical of the vocal excellence throughout -- taking leads throughout the LP were heavyweights Chivirico Davila, Cheo Feliciano, and Willie Torres -- before the band bursts into a churning bembe section, a rhythm many bandleaders shy away from for its folkloric depth. Had Marin recorded more, there is no doubt he would have enjoyed many more years in the spotlight.

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