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Mazel Tov, Mis Amigos: Show Preview 

Wednesday, Aug 25 2010

The American melting pot has wrought some mighty odd alloys: Machito and Perez Prado, for example, had the pre–rock 'n' roll generations dancing the mambo and rumba. But not all those sounds' purveyors were of Latino extraction. A very popular pop-jazz album of the early '60s was the Irving Fields Trio's Bagels and Bongos — because despite assimilating into the mainstream, many Jewish Americans wanted to celebrate aspects of their culture while simultaneously getting their cha-cha on. In 1961, Riverside Records — one of the great jazz labels — issued Mazel Tov, Mis Amigos by Juan Calle and his Latin Lantzmen, a studio summit of giants of Latin styles (Ray Barretto, Willie Rodriguez, Charlie Palmieri) and jazz (Clark Terry, Doc Cheatham) performing Latinized versions of traditional Jewish tunes such as (you guessed it) "Hava Nagila."

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Mark Keresman

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