Born Jose Calderon in Spanish Harlem N.Y.C. of Puerto Rican parentage, conga player anad bandleader Joe Cuba was one of the most successful N.Y. Latin artists in crossing over to non-hispanic audiences. At the forefront of the Latin boogaloo trend, which incorporated black music in a fusion of Latin rhythms and piano montunos with R&B and even jazz, his sextet used English to penetrate the American public, sometimes using themes which incorporated the two languages. Tnis CD of some of the finest work by the Joe Cuba Sextet is compiled from the five key albums Steppin Out, Diggin' The Most, Comin' At You , Breakin' Out, and Para Enamorados Siempre, which they recorded for the revered N.Y. Seeco label from 1962-64. The Joe Cuba Sextet played more than boogaloo. As you will hear on this CD, their repertoire features superb Latin-jazz, joyful mambo, cha cha, bolero, guaracha and other Afro-Cuban rythms including a grooving version of Tito Puente's 'Oye Como Va'.
Bassist and producer Bill Laswell has dabbled in several varieties of African music over the long and circuitous course of his career, with uneven results. But Latin America is a region he's left largely alone, until now. Imaginary Cuba finds him taking an approach somewhat similar to the one he employed on his Off World One project – building on a foundation of field recordings, he constructs complex and often dub-inflected sound collages that sound like no one but Laswell while still maintaining respect for the music's origins.
Before it was more common for jazz players like Wynton Marsalis to play both jazz and the "straight" music from stage, screen, and concert hall, trumpeter Joe Wilder broke the mold as a regular in Broadway pit bands and as a staff musician at ABC-TV from 1957-1973. After fleshing out his formal studies via stints with Lionel Hampton, Jimmie Lunceford, Lucky Millander, and Count Basie, Wilder augmented his "day job" at ABC with several dates as a leader. This 1956 Savoy session finds him in the sympathetic company of pianist Hank Jones, bassist Wendell Marshall, and drummer Kenny Clarke.