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Mambo Gee Gee

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Album Review

Along with Tito Puente, Tito Rodriguez helped perfect the big-band mambo creations of Machito and Perez Prado. Rodriguez had a slightly smoother sound than Puente, showing more of an affinity for jazz via many swinging horn charts; it was a winning musical blend that brought Rodriguez fame from mambo's epicenter in the '50s, New York's Palladium, to cities throughout the U.S. and Latin America. The fine reissue compilation Mambo Gee Gee includes 20 tracks from the early part of the bandleader's successful run, covering the years 1950-1951. With a four-trumpet front line, piano, and Afro-Cuban rhythm setup of timbales, congas, and bongos, Rodriguez works through a program of mostly mambos, while including a few bolero numbers for variety (these "Latin ballads" would figure more prominently into his set during the late '50s and early '60s). Highlights include signature, smooth-groove mambos like "Ya Soy Feliz" and "Chen-Cher-En-Guma," more charged, percussion features such as "Mania, Go!," and the melancholic bolero "Ardent Night" (this last cut was penned by pianist Gilberto Lopez, who contributes most of the album's excellent charts). The ensemble is augmented with trombones and saxes for four highly engaging numbers by bandleader Billy May and revered Latin jazz composer Chico O'Farrill (reflecting a trend in New York mambo outfits, Rodriguez here enlists the talents of jazz soloists Eddie Bert and Billy Byers). An excellent Rodriguez title that would serve as a fine introduction to the mambo maestro's extensive catalog.


Born: 04 January 1923 in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Genre: Salsa and Tropical

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s

Multi-instrumentalist Tito Rodriguez played an important role in New York's thriving Latin dance scene of the 1950s and '60s. His expressive playing was an important factor in the success of his brother Johnny Rodriguez's band. A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Rodriguez displayed his talents at a very young age. Accomplished on a variety of instruments, he could interpret popular tunes while still in his childhood. He secured his first contract as a musician at the age of 13. Although he made his...
Full bio
Mambo Gee Gee, Tito Rodriguez
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  • £7.90
  • Genres: Latino, Music, Pop
  • Released: 21 March 1995

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