Tito Puente – Mambo Diablo (180g Vinyl LP by Craft)


First-Ever Vinyl Reissue Cut from the Original Master Tapes (AAA) by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio

First-ever vinyl reissue of Mambo Diablo, the acclaimed 1985 album from legendary bandleader and percussionist Tito Puente. Offering a lively blend of standards and originals (including fan favorite “Mambo Diablo”) this long-out-of-print classic finds the King of Latin Jazz putting his own twist on classics like “Take Five,” “Lush Life” and “Lullaby of Birdland” (featuring its composer, George Shearing, on piano). Mambo Diablo was cut from the original master tapes (AAA) by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio. Pressed on 180-gram vinyl and housed in a tip-on jacket, the album also features its original liner notes by the Emmy-winning journalist and longtime New York City TV reporter Pablo Guzman.

Mambo Diablo stands as a particularly high point in Puente’s catalog during this period and marks the bandleader’s third release with Concord Picante (the then recently established Latin arm of Concord Records). A refreshing blend of classic and original material, Mambo Diablo deftly bridges the gap between Latin and jazz and serves as a testament not only to Puente’s versatility as a musician (his outstanding work on the vibraphone can be heard throughout the album) but also as an expert arranger. “His ideas, segues, choruses, and handling of [the] ensemble’s sections simply [sparkle],” praises Guzman in his liner notes.

Puente and his all-star Latin Ensemble put their magic touch on standards like Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life,” the Jerome Kern/Dorothy Fields classic “Pick Yourself Up” and Paul Desmond’s “Take Five” (made famous by Dave Brubeck), while their sublime rendition of “Lullaby of Birdland” features a cameo by the song’s composer, George Shearing, on piano. Rounding out the album is a classic bolero, “No Pienses Así,” courtesy of the legendary Cuban composer Pérez “Pepe” Delgado. Mambo Diablo also features several originals, including “China” and the joyful title track, which opens the album. Led by Puente on the vibes, “Mambo Diablo” showcases the talents of his band members, including Sonny Bravo (piano), Bobby Rodriguez (bass), Jose Madera (congas, percussion), Johnny “Dandy” Rodriguez (bongos, percussion), Jimmy Frisaura (valve trombone, trumpet, flute), Mario Rivera (flute, saxophone) and Ray Gonzalez (trumpet, flugelhorn).

Reflecting on the album, Guzman argues that Mambo Diablo – and the diversity of its tracklist – allows fans the opportunity to witness the full scope of Puente’s musicianship: “Puente is about much more than being a richly rhythmic drummer.”

  1. Mambo Diablo
  2. Take Five
  3. Lush Life
  4. Pick Yourself Up
  5. Lullaby of Birdland
  6. No Pienses Así
  7. China
  8. Eastern Joy Dance

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