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XAVIER'S LATIN BEAT IS A STEREO SPECTACULAR!
on 12 August 2013
Born in Girona, Spain, Xavier Cugat (1900 - 1990) was a Spanish-American trained musician who spent his formative years in Havana, Cuba and as a violinist and arranger (also a talented cartoonist) was at the cutting edge amongst those who encouraged the popularity of Latin rhythms in the USA. As long-term resident leader of the orchestra at New York's Waldorf-Astoria, Cugat was at the very heart of popular dance music during Latin music's immense popularity and his particular skill with rumba arrangements also lead to his appearance in several Hollywood musicals during the Forties.
Sepia continues its quest to reissue the best stereo orchestral albums with two Sixties-released Cugat collections confirming how well the arranger/conductor had moved from authentic South American numbers to his Latin-beat versions of the popular song catalogue. The first album covers popular continental numbers with MACK THE KNIFE, PETITE FLEUR, NEVER ON SUNDAY and SUCU SUCU heading compositions that became big hits and Cugat ensures their smooth transition to his style enhances their worth to great effect. The second set concentrates on film hits - mainly Hollywood style - MOON RIVER, OVER THE RAINBOW, AROUND THE WORLD etc. but also from Europe - LA DOLCE VITA and AL DI LA. Both albums are examples at how well Cugat could adapt any song with even THE POOR PEOPLE OF PARIS, LOVE IS A MANY SPENDOURED THING and ZIP-A-DEE-DOO-DA making convincing transitions from their original source to exciting shades of Latin.
Filling the remaining disc space are six tracks by Cugat's third wife - the glamorous Abbe Lane - and I found MUSTAPHA quite delightful and her sultry vocals make a welcome contrast against the main orchestral thrust of the album. Needless to say, Sepia's presentation is first-rate and the all-important remastered stereo quite outstanding.