René Touzet

The Best of Rene Touzet

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René Touzet's 1950s work is somewhere between that of Tito Puente and Martin Denny, neither as exciting and authentically Latin as the former, nor as kitschy and entertainingly fake as the latter. Perez Prado, of "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White," may be a good touchstone, but Touzet's music has a deeper Latin groove, closer to that of Xavier Cugat or the underappreciated Desi Arnaz (whose skills as a bandleader were usually overshadowed by his wife's as a slapstick artist). Touzet's percussion-heavy arrangements are clattering and propulsive, with the genuine sense of forward motion that the best mambos and meringues (which the majority of these 22 tracks are) always have, and they're invariably driven by his own highly rhythmic, syncopated piano, which pushes the singers and horn players along without dominating the proceedings. The collection features both hits like the infectious movie theme "El Cid," "Mambo Inn," or his excellent arrangement of the classic "Siboney" alongside less-familiar album tracks and singles. The remastering is excellent, and this is a perfect introduction to a bandleader who deserves much wider renown.

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