Jewish Mambos and Yiddish Cha-Chas? That’s Meshugenah!

August 11th, 2009 | admin | No Comments | Categories: Blog, Mazeltov, Mis Amigos, Press

  • “Cursing in Yiddish is part of the Latin musician’s birthright!”

    So says Latin musician Arturo O’Farrill, a pianist who is one of the key figures in New York’s Afro-Caribbean scene.

    There’s no cursing, per se, on ‘Mazel Tov, Mis Amigos,’ an album of Yiddish tunes given full-on Latin dance treatment. But there’s some great cross-cultural electricity.

    Heck, Jewish musician Herb Alpert built a music business empire on a string of ersatz-Latin hits, starting with 1962’s ‘The Lonely Bull.’ But it was a year before that when a group of top New York jazz figures — including such actual Latin leaders as conguero Ray Barretto, timbales master Willie Rodriguez and pianist Charlie Palmieri — gathered to record a bunch of Jewish favorites. Newly reissued in the Idlesohn Society for Musical Preservation’s series of “lost” Jewish recordings after decades in the vaults of the great Riverside Records label, ‘Mazel Tov’ showcases a surprising musical side trip with a fine, if ad-hoc, ensemble billed as Juan Calle & His Latin Lantzmen. Calle is actually Italian-American jazz banjo player John Cali, while others featured alongside the genuine Latinos included African-American trumpet titans Clark Terry and Doc Cheatham. Oh, yes, there was an actual Jew on the session in Yiddish singer Ed Powell, a mainstay on the theater circuit who fronts a few of the songs here.

    Click here to read the entire article.

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