LARRY HARLOW — El Exigente (review)

LARRY HARLOW — El Exigente album cover Album · 1967 · Afro-Cuban Jazz Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
Larry Harlow's third album was recorded in 1967 when Boogaloo was still in vogue as one of the most popular forms of Latin music. The vocalist Ismael Miranda makes his first performance with Orchestra Harlow and Larry had seem him sing with his brother Andy Harlow earlier in the year and being impressed had invited Ismael to sing for "El Exigente" his third album project with Johnny Pacheco one of the co-founders of the Fania Label contributing the musical direction. One thing though Larry still had that Cuban tradition behind him with two Guarachas and a Rumba in the mix between all this great Boogaloo and Shingaling. Ismael Miranda would go onto record another four albums with Orchestra Harlow including "Abran Paso" which is under his own name but this one "El Exigente" ( The Demanding One) was the first of them. NuYorcian, you bet is the vibe with that sound that accompanied it from a time back when this was still all new and here is one album for all you groove collectors with the obvious element great Latin grooves making this another of those records or cd that you will want in your collection. The cover with Larry looking hippy with the psychedelic theme was done by none other than Izzy Sanabria who I would have to say did some of the most interesting album covers in any form of music with the Willie Colon albums being some of his best which is just another great bonus for you to enjoy.

Sound of a train is the album starting point with the first great Boogaloo being the album title "El Exigente" with the band all adding some spoken introduction all at once and we are off with Ismael dropping Larry's surname at one point as the demanding one and a great loopy Boogaloo is the result with the coros singing "El Exigente" in constant repitition. "Las Luces" ( The Lights) is a Guaracha containing plenty of Cuban element but Larry adds that modern contempary touch to his take with this material with the brass section comprising trumpet and trombone bring great support with Ismael's vocals with a dance feel to the tune when the montuno commences mid-way and Larry slays us with his quick piano solo with the horns coming in all over it at the end. A Rumba is calling is next being "Rumba Llaman" but not in the traditional Cuban percussion method but Larry takes a full blown Orchestra approach with this number with the rhythm right under it and to be honest the result is really Son but does it matter when the timbales are being pounded in such a great solo."El Mejor" is another of those Harlow Guarachas that just come right out of the gate with that classic Cuban rhythm being the base for Ismael's vocals and they are sung beautifully as they all are right throughout the album for someone who was such a young singer of 18 at the time of this production .The Boogaloo gets underway from here on in for the rest of the album with "Mess Around" containing all the required great prequistes and the next "Groovin' To The Afro Twist" which is something you could twist too I suppose but myself I just like to groove along from my chair. "That Groovy Shingaling" is precisely that, groovy as only the sixties knew how to make. "Freak Off" is more pounding Boogaloo with Larry and his Orchestra and one often hears this is an album high point and although a great tune I think the name could be just as much an attraction in itself. "Be Free" is the last with it's percussion intro and the coros are singing "Who cares what they say, I'm gonna do it anyway" and hopefully it is with plenty of great music as the chorus sings "Be free come along with me, you can be what you want to be", ahh the sixties!, as I hear that train pull out again for the album close.

Fabulous stuff as all Larry Harlow albums usually are with plenty of bounce and great musicianship. One of his early albums and a great one at that. It is available on vinyl more readily than cd these days and most likely that would suit you if you are interested in this album anyway.
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