Various ‘Jukebox Mambo II’ (Jazzman) 4/5

jukebox-mambo-2Travel back in time to an era when the latest sounds could be heard in the major cities of the United States on a jukebox containing 45s that were the dancing soundtrack to an entire generation. From this époque that spans from the late 1940s through to 1960 comes a second volume of R & B gems that have taken on to a greater or lesser extent the Spanish-tinged hues. The project has been some years in the making to search out and discover these wonderful slices of vintage vinyl, but it has been well worth the wait. One of the joys of this compilation is finding out how R & B fused with other styles and here Caribbean flavours are a major feature. Philadelphia-based group Chris Powell and His Five Blue Flames contribute the wonderful ‘I come from Jamaica’ with hi-hat cymbals and mambo-infused percussion. In a classic Latin meets R &B mélange comes ‘I got a cold – calypso’ from Note and Toe and the Grenadiers with manic male lead vocals. For slightly more conventional Latin grooves, look no further than the big band brass of ‘Chano’ by the exotically named Ron Rico with Sax Kari and Orchestra. The piano soloing is out of the top drawer and recalls the great Eddie Cano in his prime. Dance crazes were once upon a time the flavour of the day and in ‘Mambo Hop’ Oscar Saldano lays down some stunning Latin piano vamps, R & B flavoured saxophone handclaps galore and collective vocal chants. If there is one name that will be immediately familiar, then it is surely that of T-Bone Walker, but he is in a very different musical surrounding here with Latin accompaniment, though the blues-inflected delivery is all his own on ‘Plain Old Down Home Blues’. Quite apart from the rest is the somewhat raw and rustic sounding ‘Denga Denga’ by Ashton Savoy from 1956 and this sparse recording feature the vocalist and guitar. New Orleans piano à la Professor Longhair is a feature of ‘She wants to mambo’ by the Chanters who actually hail from Santa Monica, L.A. Another excellent trip back in time, then, to when the jukebox ruled and we await a third instalment with bated breath.

Tim Stenhouse