Mambo Sinuendo – Cooder/Galbán

Label: Nonesuch

It’s often those that need no introduction that require it the most. Why? Because it’s tragically endemic that the brightest and the best are overlooked in favour of the fickle and often featureless faces of fashion. We live in an era were the original and the true plays second billing to the illegitimate hyper model: Bjorn Again, The Bootleg Beatles, The Clone Roses, Oasis..

For those of us unfamiliar, Manuel Galbán is something of a guitar legend. As guitarist for cult Havana doo-wop quartet, Los Zafiros (translated, The Sapphires) Galbán has produced for the best part of 40 years some of the most audacious Latin-American fusions.

Based around the template designed by chiefly American doo-wop vocal bands like The Platters and Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, it’s easy to forget the almost kamikaze confidence with which Galbán and tenor vocalist, Ignacio Elejaide re-imagined the staple doo-wop graffiti of Mid-America. In 1962 and in the face of the Cuban missile crisis, their impudent take on 50’s pop was however to give their music a somewhat tense and ultimately tragic undercurrent.

But now we turn to 2003. Imagined alongside mambo and cha cha cha – ‘Mambo Sinuendo’ awakens us to the delightfully mild chilli sounds of mambo jazz. Even the names just do it to you, don’t they? La Luna En Tu Miranda, Echale Salsita, Cabello Viejo, Patricia.

Patricia? Well okay, not all of them.

Conversational twin guitars, sultry latinas cooing and the dreamy chattering of sweet congas. It’s the cheapest last-minute flight imaginable.

Whether or not you anchor your references to this music within the glorious and vibrant twang of Duane Eddy’s regretfully now ‘kitsch’ Theme From Peter Gunn or Henry Mancini’s Touch of Evil, or even from such credible secondary sources as Portishead, or Goldfrapp – the result is achingly beautiful; beautiful and fundamental. And quite possibly the purest form of retrospective pleasure you’re going to get all year.

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Release: Cooder/Galbán - Mambo Sinuendo
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Released: 27 January 2003