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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

RAICES HABANERAS

By MICHAEL COWAN
Published April 19, 2006

The Original Roots Of Cuban Music
Universal Music Latino

THE MAMBO ALL-STARS ORCHESTRA
50 Years Of Mambo
Mambomaniacs Records

It’s been more than 50 years since Pérez Prado, the original “Mambo King,” was topping the charts with classics like “Mambo Jambo,” “Mambo #5” and “Qué Rico el Mambo.” Folks all over the U.S., Europe and, of course Latin America, were addicted to the crazy rhythms. Two new releases—50 Years Of Mambo and Raices Habaneras—pay homage to different aspects of mambo. Raices comes off as a well-researched labor of love devoted to unearthing the percussive origins of mambo in rumba and other traditional Afro-Cuban genes. History is extensive, featuring major influences like Yambú, Guaguancó, Jiribilla and the Columbia. Despite the music’s appeal, Raices is most likely appreciated by hardcore mambo maniacs or percussion experts looking for a history lesson.50 Years Of Mambo, on the other hand, is a true party album that would make Pérez Prado proud. And no surprise, the two-disc set is homage to him, reprising most of the King’s major hits. The tracks are sureshot dancefloor hits, still fresh after a half-century of global play. Someplace, somewhere, Pérez Prado is smiling.