If you at all enjoyed last week's Xavier Cugat 78s, then I heartily guarantee that you will die for this collection of similar material from the incredible Lecuona Cuban Boys. Such sweet sounds are rare indeed.
The Lecuona Cuban Boys don't take their name from composer Ernesto Lecuona without good reason-- they were founded in part by the esteemed Mr. Lecuona himself. Originally known as Orquestra Encanto, the band began touring in 1934, with Lecuona in tow, at least at first. In the role of "patron-entepreneur," Lecuona never played as part of the band-- he was given to the occasional piano recital before the show, but nothing beyond that-- but he lent the ensemble the considerable value of his popular and exquisite songs, and by the end of '34, had also lent them his name. Thus, they became the Lecuona Cuban Boys, and a truly formidable and beautiful touring group was born.
Though they specialize in delightfully robust conga and rhumba numbers, the Boys seem to be fluent in all manner of 30's-40's Afro-Cuban and Exotic popular music. They can be languidly, almost spookily, exotic, such as on their virtually unparalleled version of "Tabou," "Canto Indio," or the utterly narcotic "Hindou," which can be heard above. These songs just drip with erotic moisture and tropic haze, and are undoubtedly my favorites. That tropic-romanticism sound carries over, in less intense effect, to their more straightforward Latin-pop numbers, such as "Amapola" or "Antilana" (with the slightly bizarre-sounding "Maria La O" somewhere in between), often with the sleepwalk vocals of one of the classic dreamy-voiced lovermen, Alberto Rabagliati. Some of the selections here feature female vocals as well-- generally those of the Belgian chanteuse Élyane Célis, but with a few from the great Josephine Baker (including a solid rendition of "Besame Mucho"). Beneath the Latin overtones, there's a pre-war international flavor here that richly evokes legendary film-world dens of night-life and multiculturalism-- exemplified, perhaps, by Rick's nobly depraved Café Américain in Casablanca.
(courtesy the "Grimriper"- find a way to thank the generosity of this mysterious hero!). And as with the last, I've taken the modest pains of organizing the labeling and selecting from the numerous duplicate rips the very best quality versions.
With that, I have but to say that I would be very pleased for you to sink into these deep little wells of sound. Enjoy, friends.
LECUONA CUBAN BOYS