Vacation at the Concord
The Concord is a luxurious resort located 90 miles outside of New York City on Kiamesha Lake. As a guest you will enjoy the Concord's wonderful recreational facilities that include swimming, skiing, and an authentic Swiss chalet. After a day of fun you can enjoy fine cuisine in the dining room and dancing in the night club. All of this comes from the liner notes, which barely mention Machito at all, except to boast that he must be good or else the Concord wouldn't bring him there.
Obviously this album was designed as a promotional tool for the resort and not a regular release. However, Machito was able to bring his Afro-Cuban grooves into places like this without watering it down, and the selection of assorted cha-chas and mambos feature the same sharp horn riffs and insistent rhythms he was known for. There's no soloing involved at all - this is clearly entertainment music, designed for dancing to or talking over. But it's hard not to be captivated by the punchy Latin rhythms and if you're going to purchase a CD of this type of music, this one will work superbly.
The original release was more than likely purchased by guests who wanted a piece of nostalgia to take back to the city with them, and today Vacation at the Concord looks back to a time where dancing was a common after dinner social event and great Latin music such as this was the perfect vehicle to get people on the floor. Go ahead and pick it up; entertainment director Phil Greenwald would want you to.
Back in the sixties there was a vibraphonist who sold lots of records by combining his musical chops with his interest in Latin music and thus became one of the earliest exponents for Latin jazz. However, that man was Cal Tjader, not Dave Pike, and despite similar aspirations, the latter never achieved the recognition of the former.
Part of the problem was that Pike entered the scene once the market was already saturated with Latin-themed releases (as well as album covers with alluring women), but now it's possible to look back on his work with a little more perspective. Manhattan Latin starts and ends with a few tunes that evoke the music of Spanish Harlem and feature the same strong percussion, mariachi riffs, and chirping-bird reeds that grace many other similar releases. Each song also has some hard-hitting soloing from Pike and the brass section, but these tunes are so faithful they become insignificant; whatever may already be in your collection, chances are you have something like it.
However, the last part of the first side and the first part of the second side are quite good once Pike gives his sidemen more to do. Chick Corea contributes a strong tune with "La Playa" that provokes forceful soloing from the group. But in the best unit, which features no horns at all, Dave Freidman and Atilla Zoller (who went on to record some oddball music of their own) fire up some terrific soloing on some more widely textured tunes like "Aphrodite". In particular with the horn-less ensemble, the group seems to understand that the goal of this type of endeavor should be inspiration, not re-creation. Too bad Pike didn't quite get there.
Candido was widely recruited as a sideman for sessions where the rhythm section needed a little extra snap. It's a bit surprising then that this session (one of his only as a leader) is pretty lightweight. Instead of a strong Latin groove, we get a fairly typical sextet recording featuring the type of collegiate swing one would find on a West Coast date from the same year and only a sprinkling of Latin flavor. However, the session works well precisely because it avoids the obvious paths of similar drum-heavy recordings, and the group virtually glides through the changes on a well-chosen program of standards and originals.
The success of the record rests squarely on the shoulders of Al Cohn and Joe Puma, who handle the front line chores expertly with tasteful soloing, and Dick Katz, who anchors the rhythm section on what ends up being a pretty laid-back affair. The nice treat is the solos from Candido, a wonderful display of rhythmic ability on an instrument that (despite what any Deadhead might insist) is difficult to play well. Throughout the record Ted Sommer gives Candido plenty of room, ensuring that the bongos remain the main rhythmic focus. There's really nothing here to quicken the pulse except for a reworked introduction to "Perdido" that adds a mambo flavor to the familiar tune.
The cover certainly suggests a Latin outing, but instead Candido and company have crafted a compelling, straightforward session with expert playing and bongos to add a little extra spice.
Machito-Vacation at the Concord
Tracks: 1. Guaglione 2. Cocktails For Two 3. Patricia 4. El Aji Caribe 5. Me Lo Dijo Adela (Sweet And Gentle) 6. Mambo La Concord 7. The Continental 8. Torero 9. Estacy 10. Cha Cha Cha Loco 11. Rico Vacilon 12. Cotillion Mambo.
Personnel: Machito - percussion; and his Afro-Cuban Orchestra (personnel unknown).
Dave Pike-Manhattan Latin
Tracks: 1. Baby 2. Que Mal Es Querer 3. Not A Tear 4. Mambo Dinero 5. Montuno Orita 6. Aphrodite 7. La Playa 8. Latin Blues 9. South Seas 10. Sandunga 11. Dream Garden 12. Vikki.
Personnel: Dave Pike - vibraphone; Willie "Bobo" Correa - drums; Carlos "Patato" Valdez - congas; Dave Burns - trumpet; Ray Copeland - flugelhorn; Joseph Grimaldi - flute; Chick Corea - piano; Israel Lopez - bass; Robert Thomas - percussion; Hubert Laws - piccolo, saxophone; Attila Zoller - guitar; Don Friedman - piano; Jack Six - bass.
Candido Camero - Candido
Tracks: 1. Mambo Inn 2. I'll Be Back For More 3. Stompin' At The Savoy 4. Candi Bar 5. Broadway 6. Perdido 7. Indian Summer 8. Candido's Camera 9. Poinciana 10. Cheek To Cheek.
Personnel: Candido Camero - bongos, conga; Al Cohn - tenor sax; Dick Katz - piano; Joe Puma - guitar; Whitey Mitchell - bass; Teddy Sommer - drums.
Verve on the web: www.vervemusicgroup.com