Los Machucambos -- Percussive Latin Trio (London 1962)

Originally published in "Los in the Grooves" by Kim Cooper and David Smay

Routledge 2005

Percussive Latin Trio is an album early in the career of Los Machucambos. Founded in Paris in 1959 and virtually unknown in the United States, the group includes Romano Zanotti, Julia Cortes and Rafael Gayoso. Recorded in the London label's quirky "Phase Four Stereo," Percussive Latin Trio is an album that lives up to its title. It is a candy store of beats from worlds old and new both pre and post-Columbian.

Classics like "Granada" and "Amor" come to life under Zanotti's direction, which brings a warmth and sensitivity to each arrangement. Standouts include "Perfidia" the Latin jazz classic (sung beautifully here by Julia Cortes), and the cheerfully seductive "Pepito," which reached number two on the German Top 40.

The music of Veracruz known as Jarocho is characterized by a variety of stringed instruments. Harpist Ignacio Alderette lends an authenticity to the most famous of all Jarocho standards, La Bamba. Artists as diverse as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Ritchie Valens and the Plugz have recorded "La Bamba" but Los Machucambos define it here in its traditional form.

"El Otorinolaringologo" ("The Ear, Nose and Throat Doctor"), a whimsical cha-cha written for this album, reveals their true genius. It as witty as a Noel Coward lyric, as catchy as a Cole Porter melody and as charming as Mrs. Kennedy speaking Spanish on her husband's tour of Latin America.

Unfortunately, this album has never been re-released since its original pressing, so if you ever see one at a second hand shop grab it! Even if you don't understand a word, don't be surprised if after one listen you find yourself singing along.