Prior to receiving this outrageously entertaining reissue – recorded in 1958 and ’59 for Contemporary with a raft of Latin jazz specialists including Willie Bobo, Armando Peraza, Mongo Santamaria, and Vince Guaraldi – I had only a vague notion of who Victor Feldman was.
British-born Feldman (1934-1987) was a child-prodigy drummer in his native England before coming to America in 1957, where he became known as a top studio musician in L.A. on piano and vibes as well as percussion. He also recorded several excellent jazz albums as leader, backed Woody Herman, Cannonball Adderley, Miles Davis, and put in time at Howard Rumsey’s legendary Lighthouse jazz club in Hermosa Beach.
Latinsville! runs the gamut of Latin jazz-dance styles, recorded with three ensembles – two quintets and a ten-piece – with Feldman mostly in the fore on vibes, inevitably bringing to mind Cal Tjader.
The lively tunes are mostly derived from film and the Tin Pan alley tradition, including “South of The Border,” “Poinciana,” “Lady of Spain,” and “Cuban Pete” (covered, in a sense, by Jim Carrey in The Mask).
Great tunes, percolating Latin and Afro-Cuban rhythms, smart soloing by Feldman, Scott LaFaro on bass, Conte Candoli on trumpet, Frank Rosolino on trombone, and many others, Latinsville! is a resurrected minor masterpiece.