There was a popular song a short while back which contained, among its
entertaining lyrics, the words "they were doin' the mambo." That, in fact, was
song's title, and it surely rates as one of the greatest understatements of this, or
any, year - for, if the composers had looked around a bit more, they would have
noticed that everyone was doin' the mambo, a fact accounted for almost
single-handedly by the redoubtable Perez Prado. So man, if you've been hangin' back,
just put this disc on your turntable and start jumpin'.
Of all the musical sensations within recent years, it is
undoubtedly safe to say that
Prado has been one of the most overpowering. We are now, as anyone within
listening distance of radio or phonograph is aware, in the secure, happy grip of a
mambo madness which has afflicted the entire populace regardless of age or gender.
In the midst of this formidable flurry is Perez Prado - he was there at the beginning,
tossing those notes around with gleeful abandon; and he is there now, in the same
position he has always enjoyed, the leading and most exciting dispenser of this
particular musical mania.
Prado is not only responsible for this new and exciting
type of music, he has - along
with the members of his band - been instrumental in producing a new breed of cats.
Gone are the swinga-dillas and lindy hoppers, long past and outmoded are the
jitterbugs and assorted madmen. Prado has replaced them all with a new type of
madness, one which has been acquired by what can only be called mambo cats -
an increasingly enormous group whose footwork and bodily gyrations, while
somewhat more subtle, are certainly just as frantic and frenzied.
Prado's newest band is certainly the greatest of his
career; it is a band that really
rocks, a band whose polish and versatility are apparent from the very first note.
Returning from Cuba about a year ago, Prado formed this outfit on the West Coast,
surrounding himself with the most thoroughly equipped musicians he could find. As a
consequence of his band's formation and the reputation it has rapidly built, other
aggregations have tried to lure Prado's sidemen away from him - but they have
refused to budge, being enamored, as are all within earshot, of the style and power
and surging beat of the Prado music.
There have been many so-called explanations of the mambo
everything that has been said boils down to one salient point - here is music of an
incomparable excitement; listening to it, it is impossible not to tap the foot and gyrate
the torso. Scientific estimates can never do it justice. It is of such fantastic strength
and inescapable hypnotism that newspapers and magazines have devoted pages to
its coverage - almost all, incidentally, centered about Perez Prado. And New York's
Waldorf-Astoria, which is known more for its salon music, supper club singers and
comedians, recently imported Prado for an extended stay during which the energetic
mambomaniac proceeded to blow the top off the staid Starlight Roof. Needless to say,
the halls of that rather sedate establishment are still echoing and rocking and
Actually, the music itself is one of the least important
factors of the sound and
explosive atmosphere manufactured by the Prado band. There are a good many
mambos, many of them penned by Prado himself - such as Tomcat Mambo and
Marilyn Monroe Mambo - but the leader's secret is that he can play anything and
everything with that extra lilting beat that immediately sets it apart from all other
interpretations. His treatment of standard pop tunes is a case in point - for, in Prado's
hands, they are certain to emerge entirely new. Just listen, for instance, to Cherry
Pink and Apple Blossom White or The High and the Mighty. And even a jazz
such as Ballin' the Jack or a recent novelty by the name of Skokiaan are
built to the
most fantastic proportions.
In addition to the music and the way it is played, it is
the instrumentation of the Prado
band that sets it in a very special class of its own. To four saxes, four trumpets, one
trombone and bass, three percussionists are added to keep the bear rocking, to keep
it on its steady upward climb. There is a regular drummer with the usual assortment of
bass drum, snare and cymbals, but there are also both a conga and bongo drummer,
adding that special Latin sound without which Prado would not be Prado. Together, all
these men, under Prado's definitive downbeat, contribute to some of the most
swinging, most varied and impressive popular music to be heard since Pancho Villa
was in knee pants.
Notes by BILL ZEITUNG