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Miguelito Valdes, "Mambo Dance Session, Historical 1949 Recordings," CD, TL-12963.10

Review: Miguelito Valdes — Mambo Dance Session, Historic 1949 Recordings

by Al Santiago

The truth is that I did not appreciate Elvis ‘til he left the planet. I didn’t appreciate the Beatles ‘til they broke up. With Miguelito Valdes it was the same thing — his Babalu hit and fame threw me. I did, however, love those big bands he put together without Latinos in the sax or trumpet sections. In those days (the late ‘40s) most Latino wind players did not read much and did not have good tones.

I don’t know who arranged for Miguelito except some charts were probably by Rene Hernandez and some by Al Escobar. They both appear on the meticulous personnel listings as pianists. A musician I am familiar with is Little Ray (Romero). At a Ray Santos rehearsal, some of the musicians were talking about the titles and that they made the CD backliner look like a menu....Mondongo, El Sopon, Asopao and Gandinga. A few other familiar names are Polito Galindez and Paquito Sosa on coro, Carlos Vidal, Luis Miranda on percussion and Eddie Cano on piano.

I finally realized Miguelito’s worth when Machito told me Miguelito Valdes was admired by Mario Bauzá and Tito Puente. As the new musical leader of Latin uptempo music, Miguelito sang with Cugat and made a few movies. He was super-hip and had rhythm coming out of every pore in his body.

This is a great CD — buy it. It belongs in everyone’s Latin CD collection.

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