Personally, I find the name Mambo Kings self-confining and dated. They are certainly not just playing in mambo tempo and the name itself reflects a spurt of attention given to a movie at least a decade old and faded insofar as interest is concerned. The music is anything but old and faded. This is vital Latin jazz that is cooking.
Saxophonist John Viavattine deserves applause for knowing how to play a muscular tenor sax in such a setting without barrelling through these compositions like a noisy truck on a two-lane highway. His tenor work on "Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise," "Five Kings," and "Afro Blue" displays sure-footed work that harkens back to pre-Sheets of Sound Coltrane. On other tracks, he performs effectively on soprano sax and flute.
Richard Delaney shows a consistent knowledge of pianistics in salsa/Latin jazz and his arrangements convey the right touch. The two Latin percussionists, Freddy Colon and David Antonetti, provide the fire engine that drives this band. The Luis Bonfa theme from Black Orpheus here titled "Manana de Carnaval" is done as a bolero and offers a cooling break for dancers.
Visit the Mambo Kings on the web.
Track Listing: Softly,As in a Morning Sunrise, Nature Boy, Danzon, Marinera, Five Kings, Manana de Carnaval, Afro Blue, From Within.
Personnel: Richard Delaney, piano; Bob Stata, bass; Freddy Colon, timbales, bongos, bata & tumbadora; David Antonetti, congas, guiro; John Viavatttine, tenor and soprano sax, flute.
Record Label: Independent Records
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