Friday, August 15, 2008

The Jewish Atlantic


Edmundo Ros was something like England’s Cugat, a skilled, kitsch-friendly bandleader schooled in Latin rhythms and committed to making them popular with the mainstream. Ros was born in Trinidad and raised in Caracas before moving to London in the late 30s and becoming the UK’s leading advocate of rumba mania. But the tune that put Ros on the Latin exotica map was his 1949 version of “The Wedding Samba,” which was Yiddish songwriting chief Abe Ellstein’s “Der Nayer Sher” dressed up in bananas and maracas. No wonder then that Ros would try to repeat the formula by making a few more Jewish nods later in his career. This is him doing a spooky, horn-blasted take on Friday night’s most-requested hit (originally for Decca), “Latin Shalom” and then him heading to California to go south of the border to go north of the border with a version of “Spanish Flea” the Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass smash (penned by Mexmeister Sol Lake) that was supposed to evoke a make-believe Mexico and ended up as the theme music to The Dating Game.

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