Various Artists: The Mambo Kings (Varese Saraband)
In the 1950s, rock’n’roll was rivaled briefly by Latin-American genres, especially mambo, as the music spilled out of ethnic enclaves and into the hit parade. The 1992 film by director Arne Glimcher, The Mambo Kings, dramatized New York’s flourishing Latin scene of the mid-‘50s.
The soundtrack, just reissued on CD, was something of an all-star effort designed for maximum crossover appeal. It includes performances by salsa queen Celia Cruz and eclectic pop singer Linda Ronstadt along with jazz trumpeter Arturo Sandoval and percussionist Tito Puente aka “The King of the Timbales.” The tracks run from slow-dance romance numbers to all-out rhythmic workouts blending Afro-Caribbean influences and hot soloing into polished productions.