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Album Review

With a dance band mixture of tangos, rumbas, conga rhythms, and danzons, Xavier Cugat introduced Latin music to many North Americans in the '30s and '40s. And in spite of early charges of selling out Cuban music, Cugat, to his credit, progressively arrived at a mostly Latin repertoire during his famous stint at New York's Waldorf Astoria. Still, Cugat wasn't a champion of Cuban roots music like mambo and salsa pioneer Arsenio Rodriguez was; his classical training in Cuba and early film work in Hollywood had set him on a course to become a popular bandleader in the states, in spite of his admitted frustration at America's ignorance of Latin music. The fine Tumbao collection Rumba Rumbero spotlights Cugat during some of those prime New York years (1937-1943). Including numbers by Chano Pozo, Cugat, and even Rodriguez, the first half of the CD features the incredible Havana-born singer Miguelito Valdes, considered by many to be the best Latin singer of the period (having been the first one to popularize the Cuban classic, he was also donned the original "Mr. Babalu"). His powerful, sultry, and at times crazed vocals (check out the manic "Elube Chango") stand out on the exotica cut "Macurije" (helped along by marimba fills and Cugat's violin commentary), the percussion-riddled "Nueva Conga," and the bolero "En La Plantacion." The remaining selections spotlight the vocal talents of Alfredito Valdes and Del Campo and include a version of "Babalu" among other prime cuts. An excellent Cugat collection that is fit for newcomers and fans alike.


Born: January 1, 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...
Full Bio
Rumba Rumbero, Xavier Cugat
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  • $11.99
  • Genres: Latino, Music
  • Released: Mar 21, 1995
  • Parental Advisory

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