It’s that time of the month again when I eagerly open the padded envelope containing a CD from record label él. I say this every time I review one of their offerings, but it’s a great experience not really knowing what you are going to get. And so here we have Percy Faith “Malaguena: The Music Of The Cuba/Kismet: Music From The Broadway Production”… so two albums on one CD essentially. malaguena-music-of-cuba

Percy Faith is a Canadian conductor who was a child prodigy and widely recognised as one of the founding fathers of the easy listening genre. Later in life, in the fifties, he became the musical director of Columbia Records and recorded loads of concept albums, help salvage the ailing careers of Tony Bennett and Rosemary Cloony and put Johnny Mathis and Doris Day in the charts.

Malaguena is, as you would expect, full of Latin rhythms and HUGE orchestral productions that sound absolutely wonderful on the main rig. It’s cinematic and overblown, glamorous and exotic in its widescreen stereo format and is a real treat. OK, this is not my usual listening fodder but who cares; it is such a delightfully thrilling musical experience in its own right. Trumpets blast and trombones explode over an infectious groove that must have been a real spectacle to see live.

Kismet changes continent and musical style as you’d expect and here is delivered in the original mono recording. It’s still a big production and sounds fab with the opening tune “Sands Of Time” having a wonderfully haunting female “vocal” laid over a lush arrangement…the following track “Stranger In Paradise” follows a similar theme, whereas Zubbediya, Samari’s Dance is a much more upbeat affair. Like Malaguena, Kismet manages to throw up exotic images in the mind’s eye, but here you are guided more with luxuriant strings and that haunting female vocal.

This CD is not going to be to everyone’s taste, él CDs seldom are, but as always they deliver on daring to be different and here the musical content is really rather splendid!

Out now!

Stuart Smith

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