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Mambo Legends Orchestra: Watch Out!

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You don’t need to understand the lyrics to feel the effect of this irresistible dance music. (In case you do, there’s one track on this two-CD set sung in English by Frankie Vazquez.) Led by veterans John “Dandy” Rodriguez, Jose Madera and Mitch Frohman-together they played with Tito Puente, Machito and Mongo Santamaria-the Mambo Legends Orchestra keeps feet moving on the dance floor with exhilarating, pulse-quickening numbers like “Canela Bella,” “Para Todo El Mundo Rumba,” “Donde Va Maria” and “El Luto De La Tiñosa” (the last two sung by Cita Rodriguez), all rendered in the rich Latin-jazz tradition of the descarga. A special treat here is Ricky Gonzalez’s mambo-fied arrangement of Joe Zawinul’s “Birdland,” which gives plenty of solo room to alto saxophonist Bobby Porcelli, trombonist Sam Burtis and trumpeter John Walsh.

Originally Published