World & Latin

Long Road To Latinsville!

29 JAN 10 JOHN C. BRUENING

The origins of UK-born vibist Victor Feldman's Latinsville! -- released on Contemporary in 1960, and reissued in 1987 with five bonus tracks -- are a little convoluted. The project began in December 1958, with Feldman leading a quintet in Contemporary's L.A studio. But the sessions were halted after two days and then restarted the following March, this time taking a more Latin direction. The original Contemporary release included the later material only. The tracks from the initial sessions in December 1958 were added onto the reissue.

Still with me? Here's the payoff. Regardless of the session dates or the stylistic focus, Feldman is at the helm of a satisfying final product, thanks in large part to a great crew: Walter Benton, Willie Bobo, Conte Candoli, Vince Guaraldi, Al McKibbon, Frank Rosolino, Mongo Santamaria and several others.

Latinsville! opens with the "South Of The Border," a British song from the late '30s crafted here as a mambo. "She's Latin From Manhattan" follows more of a cha-cha groove with the help of Frank Guererro's timbales. Other high points include Guaraldi's solo work amid the complex rhythms of "Poinciana," and the joint efforts of Candoli and Rosolino within "Woody'n You," a tune originally penned by Dizzy Gillespie as a tribute to Woody Herman.

In the home stretch, Feldman's high-speed and lively vibe work in "The Breeze And I" inspires Benton, Rosolino and drummer Nick Martinis to respond in kind, while "Bullues Bullose" follows a more laid-back groove that's just as satisfying.

Whatever the thinking behind the midstream course change as Latinsville! was coming together 50 years ago, the end result is a cohesive and entertaining experience.

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