26 August 2007


Jack Costanzo and his Latin Orchestra for Tops Records from 1957.
Don't be fooled by the cover or title into thinking this is a lame bit of cha cha cha/exotica-in fact it's a really tough Afro Cuban session from Mr Bongo.Have a read of the sleeve notes:
"Mr. Bongo Plays Hi-Fi Cha Cha" marks the most authentic presentation yet of the passion, spirit and pulsating beat of the music native to Cuba. It possesses all the rocking excitement of a Cuban dance with the powerful four-trumpet team : the comple yet rock-steady rhythm section of bongos, congas, timbales,string bass and piano; the happy, uninhibited vocal trios and soloists. The virtuoso brilliance and unflagging beat of Jack "Mr. Bongo" Constanzo leads the orchestra and singers through the exciting rhythms of Cuba.
From Havana to Hollywood the bongo beat is sweeping the continent. Like economy runs and TV spectaculars, bongo parties are developing into a revered Institution as thousands of unrelenting tyros nurse sore fingers and aching wrists trying to make the skins speak Cubano
For Jack Costanzo, bongo beating is like breathing. That this analogy is honest is borne out by his certain title, "Mr. Bongo". In this album, rousigly backed by his famous orchestra and vocalists, Mr. Bongo steps out, daring to bring into your homethe inflammable rhythms of Cuba.
Costanzo's professional laurels include many "firsts". The handsome, thirtyish Chicagoan was the first bongo drummer to work with a name jazz orchestra, joining the exciting Stan Kenton organization in 1947 and working with Stan for two years.His outstanding performance on the Kenton recordings of "Peanut Vendor," "Journeyto Brazil" and "Bongo Riff" made the American public aware for the first time of the"little drums with the big sound".
Jack gained further fame when he augmented the Nat "King" Cole Trio from February 1949 to September 1953, establishing him as the first bongoist to play with such a trio.His recordings with the velvet-voiced Cole include "Calypso Blues", "Lush Life" and"Strange," numbers which became standard repertoire in their tours of Europe, Hawaiiand Stateside
Since 1954, Constanzo has been an integral part of the acts of Peggy Lee and franticFrances Faye, with whom he recorded and appeared at lavish spots such as Hollywood's Giro's, Las Vegas' Sands Hotel and the Fairmont in San Francisco.Moreover, and just for the record, this young man with the heap big beat has appearedin the top concert emporiums on both coasts - Carnegie Hall (with Kenton) and theHollywood Bowl (with La Lee}
No less extensive is Mr. Bongo's record in motion pictures and television. Lucky man,he's even worked with Marilyn Monroe "NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOW BUSINESS" andGrace Kelly "TO CATCH A THIEF". There's no percentage in trying to count a top video show with music where Jack hasn't either sparked the studio orchestra or appearedon camera.
A brief rundown of his other musical credits reads like a roster of Who's Who in Showbusiness:
Bands - Ray Anthony, Rene Touzet, Xavier Cugat, Lecuona Cuban Boys, PerezPrado, Billy May, Charlie Barnet and aforementioned Stan Kenton.
Personalities - Desi Arnaz, Ima [sic] Sumac, Frank Sinatra, Danny Kaye, and Gary Crosby.
Also well known as a bongo and conga instructor, the virtusoso numbers among hispast pupils some of Filmland's very brightest stars.
Constanzo's latest coup is a pact with 20th Century Fox for a musical role in thepicture, "Bernardine". He has recorded sound tracks for many famous films, latestbeing "The Story of Mankind" and Jerry Lewis' first movie as a single, "The DelicateDelinquent."
Ohio-born vocalist Marda Saxon is one of the very few non-Latins to performsuccessfully the authentic Cuban songs in this album. Originally a dancer with thefamous Afro-Cuban Sans Souci Troupe, Marda has been with the Costanzo Orchestra since its organization in April 1956. She joined the band at its first location, BenPollack's renowned restaurant on Hollywood's Sunset Strip, and has made personal appearances and recordings with Mr. Bongo since that time. In this album she sings inJarochita, Silencio and Bonco.
The rich vocalizmgs of Kaskara have been entertaining American fans of Cuban music since 1945 when he first came to the U. S. Born in Holbuin, Orienre, Cuba, Kaskarahad worked primarily with the bands of Perez Prado and Rene Touzet prior to his present association with the Costanzo Orchestra. He previously recorded with Touzetand is here featured in the vocals of Jarochita; Que Dichoso Es; Nana Secre; Jack,Jack, Jack, Quiere; Rabo E. Mula. Jack Costanzo appears through the courtesy of Zephyr Records.
This has been reissued on vinyl in various guises over the years and even made it to cd (now long deleted)in 1983 for Palladium the Spanish Latin reissue specialists.


satya said...


I'm not leaving a comment about this release, but was wondering if you could post again the copy of JOE HARRIOTT - SOUTHERN HORIZONS, if you could that would be excellent - i've been a fan for a long time and can't find this anywhere!




Rob G. said...

Killer LP. I think I own this about three times over and the records are always shot. Ha ha. Tops not exactly tops on quality.

I got some more Jack C, maybe I'll post some if I get my other hard drive back. (I may have lost most of my collection. Gahh.)

Pekis said...

Hi Mighty Bacoso,

... Here's a little gift for everybody:

Frank FOSTER and The Loud Minority
"Shiny Stockings" (1978)
(Ripped@320 from CD (DENON DC-8545))


Front cover: http://www.positifs.org/jazz-passion/8-deqqpochdisq/photD.f/Foster_Shiny-Stocking.htm

See you !

Sandman said...

I'd like to thank you for this and your other interesting stuff.

Bray said...

This record is a real revelation. It's got all the high end gloss of 50's swing bands, but then this whole other underpinning: true roots. The playing is phenominal. But I think for me the coolest thing is hearing this big band swing real latin. Usually the dudes in those bands were too white to fully get it going.
This album is on constant rotation now...

muchisimas gracías....

pepanito said...

ECELLENT Latin post! Congrats! would like to see more pure stuffs like this.

1000 thanks from Paris France.


Negu said...

Muchas gracias por tu excelente musica!!

Josem El Manisero said...

Excelente musica y tambien los comentarios. Colecciono El Manisero (The Peanut Vendor) cualquier version es bienvenida! josemmoraf@yahoo.com

mambito said...

Hi Bacoso,

Would you be so kind as to re-post this album please :)

Many thanks in advance!


Josue said...

Hace mucho tiempo yo conocí la salsa mediante un estudio universitario que estaba realizando en republica dominicana, el estudio se llamaba Affiliate Programs Directory, en un día largo nos fuimos a una discoteca y me di cuenta de los genial que este baila latino, viva la salsa!!!

Mambo Lounge said...

Jack Costanzo is one of the most under represented (if under-rated) musicians in the world of Afro Caribbean music and Latin Jazz. He had the chops and musicianship to swing in any era with any style... Simply a superb player.

Escomambo said...

many thanks

Escomambo said...

many thanks