- Wild thing
Armando Peraza was born in Havana, Cuba, ca. 1924 (due to the circumstances in 1920s Cuba, the birth date is uncertain). He was orphaned by the age of 7 and lived most of his childhood on the streets. As a natural musician, it didn’t take long until he was playing with all the famous conjuntos (small bands) in Havana. In 1948 Peraza left Cuba to join his friend Mongo Santamaria in Mexico. They arrived in New York 1949 and immediately found themselves playing with the famous latin jazz musician Machito. After a while Charlie Parker asked Peraza to join in to a recording session with him, Buddy Rich and some others. After moving to San Francisco in the early 1950s Peraza worked with with Perez Prado, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus and Dexter Gordon to name a few. In 1954 he met Cal Tjader and years later joined his band for six years. Throughout the 1960s Peraza played with various jazz and latin artists before joining the Carlos Santana’s band in 1972. He was a key player for 18 years before retiring from the band at the age of 66. During that period he was playing around the world partnering with other top class percussionists like José Chepito Areas, Mingo Lewis, Raul Rekow and Orestes Vilató.
Although Peraza never wanted to be a bandleader, preferring to be recognized as a featured musician, he released a solo album in 1968. This album, Wild Thing, was released on small Skye label that was co-owned by Cal Tjader, Gary McFarland and Gábor Szabó. Skye was active only few years releasing 21 studio albums before filing a bankcruptcy in 1970. Due to his connections, Peraza got a quite interesting set of musicians to his album. Pianist Chick Corea, flautist Johnny Pacheco, bassist Chuck Rainey, percussionists Cal Tjader and Tommy Lopez, drummer Donald McDonald and saxophonist Sadao Watanabe among some others joined him on this session.
Many of the tracks on this one are covers. First up is a nice latin groove cover of “Wild thing”, originally recorded by a New York band The Wild Ones and later made famous by the UK band The Troggs. In a weird way it reminds me more of “La bamba” than the original. Next one is a midtempo version of “Mony Mony”, originally by Tommy James & the Shondells and later covered by Billy Idol and several others. Another much covered song here is “Funky Broadway”, originally by Dyke & the Blazers. It turns out to be a great midtempo latin funk track. The last song, “Granny’s samba” - originally by Gary McFarland - is a heavy latin jam with a really long tight break in the middle. There’s also original compositions like “Red onions”, which is a really good one. As expected, this album is really percussion heavy with occasional breaks on almost every song and continuous rhythm grooviness throughout the album.