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Jungle Fantastique!

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Album Review

Jungle Fantastique was, until its reissue in 2000, a very scarce classic. Originally released on the Jubilee label, this 1958 set features vibraphonist Bobby Montez in a quintet with pianist Carlos Ortega Avelar, bassist Jimmy Baiz, Miguel Gutierrez on timbales, and Louis Miranda on congas. The music ranges from exotic melodies and heated Afro-Cuban jazz to percussion displays ("Kon-Tiki"). The music is Americanized Cuban jazz, similar at times to the Cal Tjader sound of the 1950s. Although Montez is the lead voice, it is the full ensemble sound that is most memorable on six of the leader's originals and melodic versions of "Speak Low," "Carioca," and "Summertime." All of the music on this LP-length CD (mambos, boleros, and cha-cha-chas) is easily danceable, full of infectious rhythms, and quite pleasing.

Jungle Fantastique!, Bobby Montez
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