This is the most outstanding remaster of 1958's Dance Mania, boasting Tito Puente at the peak of his popularity and the height of New York mambomania in the late 1950s. The sound quality of the collection is incredible, capturing with vivid clarity the sentient brass, lush layers of percussion, and big-band interplay on some of the most superb interpretations of Cuban son montuno, bolero, guaguancó, cha cha, and mambo. The Best of Dance Mania saunters and struts with a sensual Cuban passion that makes one want to grab a partner and mambo in pumps and beehive across the living room floor. But these are only a few of the reasons to adore this CD. Some of the greatest Cuban musicians were in Tito's big band at this time: vocalist Santitos Colon and his classic, silken voice; Ray Barretto and Francisco Aguabella and their surefooted congas; and a youthful Doc Severinsen--not to mention the astounding timbale and vibe work from Tito himself. Overall, the quality of musicianship is stellar. While Buena Vista Social Club and its subsequent--albeit well-deserved--spinoff albums continue to charm American ears, The Best of Dance Mania quietly sits under our noses, waiting for discovery by those interested not only in the era of Cuba's Tropicana nightclub, but in the raging scene that happened in America as well. --Karen Karleski
But you have probably already figured that out, as the CD is titled "Best of..." Not being a Puente expert, I don't know if it's a good tradeoff or not, having six alternate takes instead of the 9 original Lp tracks that are missing. But it's great music, remastered well, and can be had for a bargain from marketplace sellers.
No collection of Latin music is complete without Tito Puente, any album, any song-they're all golden.