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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Tabu - Ralph Font

Brazilian Willy-Willy
Ralph Font And His Orchestra
Westminster WP 6077

From the back cover: In Africa such dances (samba, rhumba, mambo) had been a part of religious rituals; in the Americas they have played an important role in those macabre ceremonies and incantations called voodoo – a mixture of religion, black magic, and sorcery in which simple natives, impelled by religious fanaticism and superstitious fears, seek to placate or to frighten off evil spirits with dancing, chanting, howling, and other more bloodthirsty rites. Many features of voodoo seem revolting or amusing to more civilized peoples, but the rhythmic power of the dancing exerts an irresistible attraction on even the most sophisticated. Thus these savage dances, toned down to fit our more moderate conception of ballroom dancing, turn up as the mambo, the cha-cha, or the merengue.

The above paragraph sums up the project from the dramatic sensual cover photo by Lester Krauss, to the notes that promise "chanting and howling". However, the notes continue on to reveal that someone at Westminster decided that they had to tone down the set to a "more moderate conception". Never mind the disconnect between marketing department's approach and what Font actually recorded, this is still a vibrant and competitive 1958 Latin set that features Font's sharp, bright piano work.

Also from the back cover: Ralph Font began his musical studies in Puerto Rico and completed them at the Juilliard School of Music in New York. He played in several name bands until he felt that he had enough experience to form a band of his own and then, a little over seven years ago, formed his present group. He appears regularly on Ed Sullivan's TV Show, and he has had a great success with his own Fiesta Americana Show, which is shown every Friday night over the Dumont Television Network. Variety writes the following about Ralph Font: "The Font Band is a smooth dance combo that is always easy to follow. Their's is a sapient mixture of melody that makes a turn over the floor very relaxing." Walter Winchell, describing The Font Orchestra, wrote: "One of the best Latin outfits in town."

Brazilian Willy-Willy
Compadre Pedro Juan
Peanut Vendor
Noche De Ronda
Cosita Linda
La Comparsa
Piano Merengue
B├ęsame Mucho
El Botellero

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