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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Jack Ashby


Xavier Cugat

‘the original dance king’

Columbia/Legacy 508696 2



    1. Babalú
    2. Jamay
    3. Anana Boroco Tinde
    4. The Brand New Cha Cha
    5. Cuca
    6. Bim Bam Bum
    7. A Bailar Merengue
    8. Coco Seco
    9. Suavecito
    10. Miami Beach Rhumba
    11. Yo Quiero Un Mambo
    12. Son Los Dandis
    13. Mambo Jambo
    14. Ritmo Tropical
    15. (The Chi Chi) Cha Cha Cha
    16. Yo Ta Namora
    17. The Anything Can Happen Mambo
    18. Mambo Gordo
    19. Bésame Mucho
    20. Tumbao
    21. Bread, Love And Cha Cha
    22. La Murcura
    23. Cuban Mambo
    24. Mondonguero
    25. Mondongo
    26. Who Me?

The recent widespread interest in ballroom dancing has meant resurgence for one of its most popular components – ‘Latin dance.’ Originally the music became popular in the USA and Europe between the 1930s and mid-50s and then more or less disappeared with the demise of the big bands. Tito Puente was one exception and he continued to play Latin music but it soon became more allied to what is termed ‘Latin jazz.’

In the post-war era the one band whose name was on the top of the popularity list was Xavier Cugat. His first break came in 1928 when his band was booked at the New Coconut Grove in Los Angeles. This was followed by the band playing a major part in the popularity of the rhumba – Cugat was ‘The Rhumba King.’ After leading a number of groups another break came in the 1940s when Camel Cigarettes offered him the chance to make regular broadcasts from the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. The broadcasts had a massive audience and soon recording dates and film contracts followed – twenty-eight in all. That band was popularly know as the ‘The Camel Caravan.’

This CD follows Cugat’s music through its important years when rhumbas, merengues, mambos and cha cha chas were all the rage.

Jack Ashby


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