Monday, June 29, 2015

Listening to Prestige Part 126: Juan Tirado

Prestige had recorded Joe Holiday and Billy Taylor, separately and together, playing their own fusion of mambo and bebop, but this was their first foray into presenting a strictly Latin ensemble. There are a sprinkling of gringos (including the multitalented Don Elliott) , but this appears to have been a Latin session, aimed at a Latin market. There is one jazz tune in the session, Tirado's version of "Farmer's Market," but even that is given a subtitle, "El Baile del Campesino," or "Peasant Dance." Presumably it would have gone out to Latin markets under the subtitle -- that is, if it had ever gone out at all. "Cha Cheando" and "Shake it Easy" were released on 78 and 45, but the other two were unissued.

Which makes it ironic that the only cut from the session that still seems to exist is one of the unissued ones -- in fact, the very same "Farmer's Market Mambo," which exists on a DJ copy, and can be found on YouTube and on the Office Naps roundup of Latin jazz on Prestige.

There was a brief craze for doing mambo versions of popular standards, including Henry Mancini's jazz theme from Peter Gunn, turned by Jack Costanzo into the "Peter Gunn Mambo," but that all came later, and anyway, although "Peter Gunn" has solid jazz credentials, it was a pop hit as well, so the "Farmer's Market Mambo" may well be unique.

This is the first mambo session on Prestige that does not use a conventional jazz drum kit. All the percussion is on Latin instruments, and the beat is completely Latin. The solos by Don Elliott and Tirado, but especially the Elliott solo, are jazz. There is one other Tirado recording available, "Dorotea" on the primarily R&B Derby label, and it doesn't have the same jazz feel.

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