Reviewed by Eric Saeger
Being the remaining contingent of Tito Puente’s band, Mambo Legends Orchestra is essentially the Latin reply to today’s Count Basie Orchestra, aiming to preserve the vibrancy of 40s/50s core mambo and salsa – there’s no better band to do the job, obviously, than the one on this two-disker. Frankie Vazquez’ heavy/slithery tenor is as authentic as you could hope to encounter in such a preservation project, his vocal on Hugo Gonzalez’ ‘Vamos Pa’l Guateque’ just one of several barrio-authentic turns, a few heartfelt “Hey! Jose!” bromantic shout-outs thrown in to good effect. Like the recent Basie efforts, there’s a little too much empty digital space and antiseptic aftertaste that one doesn’t find on vinyl versions, but I suppose that’s a complaint you could lob at pretty much any genre that wasn’t invented yesterday. Whatever, if you like this genre, this is essential, no question.