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Bobby Matos & John Santos - Mambo Jazz
Ubiquity Records
By Ben Ohmart
(more articles from this author)
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Artist: Bobby Matos & John Santos
Title: Mambo Jazz
Label: Ubiquity Records (
Genre: Latin

Ubiquity Records continues to be the Yankees scout of the Latin jazz world. This time, Bobby Matos & John Santos are up once again, and that means rhythm. Rhythm, rhythm, and then two trays more of: rhythm. Whether John is doing the timbales or Bobby's grabbed the congas, the hands are the passion on this 9 track, 42 minute cd, and they - are - busy.

Don't go any farther than 'Entrada (Agogo y Agbe)' with its plethora of bells and conga and chekere, with many a little bass from Eliseo Borrero to give it instrumental substance. The point of the opener is show that when you're of a brilliant mind, cadence alone can win the day.

But 'Nueva Diana' grinds out a full sound, from horn section to short vocal chorus to flute and sax solos to - well, what's left? Perhaps some romance. Okay, hoof on over to the next track, 'Oye Mi Querida' and see if your samba dance shoes fit. If not, your ass will be aching if you have to sit out of this one. Martin Padilla is in fine form on lead vocal, while John Santos takes to the bongos like a true Latin beatnik. And Robertito Melendez is ever present on his own set of congas.

Didn't I warn you this was a rhythm-sister's album? All tunes stem from it, like some sort of guerrilla jazz ensemble that doesn't know when to stop hiring skin whackers. Yet, nothing in traditional jazz is left out in favor of more clank. No. The brass of 'Ya Se Ve' is cool and hot whenever they surprise you by showing up. Wicked.

Perhaps the stand out tune (except that truly exciting opening) would be Ismael 'East' Carlo doing her lead-vocal best to instruct the bright dance class students in 'I Don't Speak Spanish (But I Understand Everything When I'm Dancing)' as she trips along like some 1960s-movie diva with a tight navel and a sly smile. 'I don't speak Spanish but I understand everything when I'm dancing. The sign language of the body speaks conga logic, rumba intelligentsia and tongues tied by trails of ocean water from Africa to Cuba to New York City.' And that ain't all by a long shot. Throughout the entire cut she's adding her own 3 cents, and the cash really adds up.

Great, great album. Worth the pricetag.

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