Fania All-Stars

Rhythm Machine

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As part of Bob James' Tappan Zee Records agenda, house producer Jay Chattaway was handed the Fania All-Stars, no doubt with instructions to make a hit record with them as he did with Maynard Ferguson that year. So he did -- with a little help from James on electric piano, other New York studio experts like Eric Gale, Randy Brecker, John Tropea, Joe Farrell, and Jon Faddis, and, as an integral part of the All-Stars, Mongo Santamaria. The results are not at all bad, nor irredeemably diluted. Sometimes the crisp outboard brass section, voices, and strings intrude on the action, and the LP was made in layers, as opposed to herding the band into the studio for a day and letting them wail. But in most instances, the Latin rhythm section of Santamaria, Nicky Marrero, and Roberto Roena is permitted to dictate the direction and feel of the sessions -- and that gives this LP the vitality that Santamaria's own album with Chattaway two years later (Red Hot) lacked.

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