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Caribbean Rendezvous

Eddie Gomez & His Orchestra

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Album Review

This album limps in the door with plenty of reasons not to like it, kind of like the brother's kid who at 15 held up a gas station and at 16 ran a meth lab out of his bedroom. Nonetheless, the Caribbean Rendezvous arranged by Eddie Gomez has a straightforward charm and a functional musicality that can be compared to a good coffee machine, something of more use than a wayward relative any dang day. Speaking of which, some people will go to extreme lengths to acquire an album such as this, one of two that the Puerto Rican dance band leader made for the cheapsy Crown label. This is not the Eddie Gomez who plays on 12 million modern jazz albums; nobody would have driven out to the shack of a despicable character known as Terd the Hillbilly to get that kind of record album. Caribbean Rendezvous, on the other hand, is officially listed as a so-called "cheesecake" album cover, inspiring an only slightly lowlife collector of such things to seek out a rendezvous with the Gomez album, wherever it might be found. The pair of Gomez sides came out in what was the label's first year of operation and were never issued other than in mono. The record company itself has been described as "the king of the junk record labels." Its products, once dispersed, settled in odd locations or basically crumbled into dust, a process that begins with the album cover falling apart. "The covers and the vinyl were cheaply made, fell apart almost instantly, and the records sounded worn out right out of the package," sayeth the previously quoted source, an introduction to a discography of the Crown catalog. The cheesecake of the Caribbean Rendezvous album cover turns out to be a sultry redhead, clad in a lowcut garb, bending forward slightly as she wiggles while a conga drummer looks on from inches away. He actually seems to be looking down her dress. In the usual record collection, this cover reveals itself briefly before flapping forward helplessly like the door of a coal chute, the typical sign of Crown's feeble fabrication formula. "She's never been played and I never lie about sound quality," said Louisiana native Terd the Hillbilly, resident of a bog outside Lafayette. He has a vast collection of albums with covers such as this, some of which can be parted with for the right negotiated prices. His customers — there are a few every year — want these records for all kinds of reasons, not just the cheesecake. Jazz content aside, a strong case could be made for acquiring Caribbean Rendezvous simply because the play list includes a song entitled "Someone Broke My Maracas." Gomez leads his uncredited musicians through cha cha/mambo and calypso, the opening "Closer Closer" so so groovy groovy with the snugly feel of a small transistor radio crammed into a shirt pocket on a hot summer night sometime during the very year this was released. As for when it was recorded, since there is no information about this either, nothing really can be taken for granted. Based on both the sound quality and the label's own reputation for reprocessing, these tracks could have been recorded in 1936, 1948, or 1953: pick a number. As a bandleader, Gomez keeps his players focused on their priorities. Although it sounds like music, in a way it is more like someone very carefully fixing something that is broken, ironic since the LP truly does sound worn out despite having never been played — if the seller's claim can be believed. Listeners might begin with "A Little Caress" rather than the aforementioned side one opener. Not only is it a perfect little shiver of a touch, it is the opener on side two, easily selectable in cases when someone can't figure out which side is which. The Crown bean-counters balked at the expense of typesetting "side one" and "side two" but did cough up for some very tiny numbers down at the bottom of the label.

Caribbean Rendezvous, Eddie Gomez & His Orchestra
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