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Calypsos

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Album Review

In 2003, Dutton Vocalion reissued 14 titles which originally appeared in 1956 on the Decca LPs Calypsos and Baions. Most of the songs on this compilation are mid-'50s remakes of Ros' most popular hits from the late ‘40s and early ‘50s. Tracks 1-14, all of which feature singing by Ros and his band, are pleasant novelties out of the commercial calypso bag. Baions was actually half baions and half boleros. The baion has been described as a slow samba of northeast Brazilian origin, and is frankly not all that different from the habanera, the tango rhythm used by W.C. Handy in the 16-bar midsection of his "St. Louis Blues." Baion rhythm was an essential ingredient in popular music of the '60s, most famously perhaps in "Be My Baby" by the Ronettes and "It's Not Unusual" by Tom Jones. Of the seven baions reproduced on this collection, five appear to be wordless, and while Ros was always a likeable vocalist, there's a lot to be said for his instrumental mood music. Bear in mind that this is 1956 production, sometimes augmented with a string section, so the overall impression is softer and more like background music than authentic Brazilian dance strata. The last seven tracks on this compilation are designated as boleros, and all but one are garnished with vocals. Here "bolero" is clearly meant to reference the traditional, romantic, slow dance which in Cuba is sometimes referred to as the bolero-son. While it's nice to hear Ros savoring the lyrics to Lerner & Loewe's "I Talk to the Trees," the finest example from this portion of the program is the passionate instrumental "Morocco," a serious contender for the best track of the entire collection. As if to round off the entertainment with a cinematic flourish, the album closes with "Blowin' Wild" (subtitled "The Ballad of Black Gold"), written by Ukrainian composer Dimitri Tiomkin with lyrics by Paul Francis Webster for the film of the same name which premiered in 1953 staring Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck, and Anthony Quinn. This selection documents Ros' surly attempt to emulate the macho majesty of Frankie Laine, who sang the song during the film's opening credits.

Biography

Born: December 7, 1910 in Port Of Spain, Trinidad

Genre: Latino

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Bandleader Edmundo Ros was the living embodiment of Latin music in World War II-era Britain. The toast of London's high society, he effectively introduced the rhumba and samba to the U.K. shores. Born December 7, 1910, in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, to a Scottish father and an African-Venezuelan mother, Ros spent much of his childhood in military school, playing percussion in the military band. The experience was otherwise miserable, however, and at 17 he ran away to Caracas, where he served as tympanist...
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Calypsos, Edmundo Ros
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