Best of the Best

Xavier Cugat and His Orchestra released a riveting collection of Afro-Cuban-infused jazz  for Mercury Records on his / their 1961 album, The Best of Cugat. Having been recording and releasing material since the early 1940s (Rumbas, released in 1941), it must have been painstakingly difficult to find only 12 tracks from Cugat’s vast, hip-swaying catalog to fill this compilation. If you haven’t heard of Xavier Cugat, climb out from under your rock and check out this “best of” comp. It’s a great place to start, and can be had for under $3.

Viva Cugat!

Viva CugatWhile finishing up yet another spin of 1961’s Viva Cugat! by Xavier Cugat and His Orchestra, and immediately before launching a Taiwanese bootleg of The Best of Frankie Lane, I felt inclined to gander upon the heavily worded inner sleeve to the vivacious Viva Cugat! For reasons that are not entirely clear, Hal Mooney, Mercury Recording Director, made sure to include diagrams to the band arrangement for the three differing recording sessions (spanning three days) used to create this exciting Airport Lounge album. (I’m now using the term Airport Lounge when referring to late 50s, early 60s easy listening lounge of an international nature.)

Xavier CugatI’ve been heavily into the space age pop, easy listening, cool lounge vibe lately. I’m not entirely sure why this particular genre is monopolizing my ear, but Viva Cugat! is certainly a welcoming addition, which has yielded multiple spins within the past week. Stick with what’cha dig, I suppose. On a side note, I just learned that the plural for cello is celli, so, that’s something.Arrangement