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The King of Rumba

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Album Review

Perhaps the most common of all Cugat albums, Best of is not unique in any way, nor is it a compilation drawn from previous releases. It is, however, a Latin dance-album powerhouse. And it draws upon the more successful lessons learned in Viva Cugat and fully exploits Mercury's "Perfect Presence Sound." "Amapola" has nearly the same swing as "Siboney"; perhaps they are from the same session. The version of Pablo Beltran Ruiz' "Sway (Quien Sera)" stands as the definitive recording of Latin, big-band dance music. "El Cumbanchero," "Tequila," and "Mama Inez" also are no slouches, and "Tea for Two Cha Cha Cha" is just glorious...and funny. The exotic "Taboo" has a boys chorus, but the strings detract from the jungle flavor. Also there are "Misirlou" and "Ba-Tu-Ca-Da." Overall, it is hardly perfect or even, but with six photos of Abbe Lane and several great, great tracks, it deserves the title The Best of Cugat.


Born: 01 January 1900 in Gerona, Spain

Genre: Latino

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s

Remembered for his highly commercial approach to pop music, Xavier Cugat (born Francisco de Asis Javier Cugat Mingall de Cru y Deulofeo) made an even greater mark as one of the pioneers of Latin American dance music. During his eight-decade-long career, Cugat helped to popularize the tango, the cha-cha, the mambo, and the rhumba. His hits included "El Manicero" in the 1930s, "Perfidia" in 1940, and the original recording of "Babalu" in 1944. Members of Cugat's band included Desi Arnaz, Miguelito...
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The King of Rumba, Xavier Cugat
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