La Playa Sextet

The La Playas (not to be confused with the La Plata Sextet, a knockoff on Seeco) were the most popular group on New York's small, beloved Mardi Gras label. Although in later years numbering as high as a dozen players, the group originally was a spare sextet distinguished by a strong, rhythm-guitar sound. The distinctive guitar and lively tempos made their sound as much Latin rock as progressive Latin, which meant their appeal could range beyond "New Yorican" to pan-mundo-Latino. In their association with Tito Rodriguez key members were shared with what would become Eddie Palmieri's group. That factor alone makes some of the United Artists records notable, while the two Musicor LPs are unique for other reasons. Papas Fritas really is mod Latin rock in The Champs style: lightweight but fun, with a few excellent tunes. The subsequent "Bailando el Boogaloo" LP features Louie Ramirez, interesting jazz elements, and one very attractive boogaloo rarity which makes it a "holy grail" of Latin soul.

Buying: Generally the later the La Playa LP, the rarer, but snap up any you see; almost all are very worthwhile and quite scarce. Beware of reissues and budget-label repackagings. Their one Latin-soul LP is extremely rare.

La Playa LPs

7La Playa Sextet: Care to Cha Cha Cha?; Mardi-Gras LP-5001; c.1956
7La Playa Sextet: Cha Cha Cha at the Coral Reef; Mardi-Gras LP-5006
7La Playa Sextet: Invitation to Cha Cha Cha; Mardi-Gras LP-5010
7La Playa Sextet Plays La Playa Favorites; Mardi-Gras LP-5015
7La Playa Sextet: Sun, Sea, & Cha Cha Cha; Mardi-Gras LP-5019 (also stereo)
7La Playa Sextet: I Dig La Playa Sextette the Most; Mardi-Gras LP-5020
La Playa Sextet: A Little Bit of Everything; Mardi-Gras LP-5022
La Playa Sextet: Pachanga, Cha Cha Cha Anyone?; Mardi-Gras LP-5024
La Playa Sextet: Pachanga Everyone; Mardi-Gras LP-5025
6The La Playa Sextet & Orchestra: The Exciting New La Playa Sound; United Artists UAS-6357 (West Side Latino WSLA-4059; 1975)
7La Playa Orchestra: Vaya Means Go!; United Artists UAS-6401
7La Playa Sextet: Si! Si! La Playa!; United Artists UAS-6410
7The La Playa Orchestra featuring the La Playa Sextet: The La Playa Orchestra in Puerto Rico; United Artists UAS-6428
8La Playa Sextet: Papas Fritas; Musicor MS-3103 (mod Latin/Latin rock)
8La Playa Sextet: Bailando el Boogaloo; Musicor MS-3138; 1967 (Latin soul)

Partly La Playa Sextet LPs

7Charlie Palmieri/La Playa Sextet/Emilio Reyes: Algo Estamos Haciendo Bien; El Globo 6001 (Mardi-Gras recordings, some possibly newly issued or on LP for the first time)
La Playa Sextet; Embajador E-6004
La Playa Sextet in Nueva York; Embajador E-6005
6La Playa Sextet/Al Castellanos: A Mardi Gras of Cha Cha Cha Hits; Mardi-Gras LP-5007; 1958
6La Playa Sextet/Al Castellanos/Emilio Reyes: Cha Cha Cha-Mambo; Mardi-Gras LP-5003
6La Playa Sextet/Al Castellanos/Emilio Reyes: Take Our Three; Mardi-Gras LP-5005
6La Playa Sextet/Al Castellanos/Sonny Rossi: We Love to Cha Cha Cha; Mardi-Gras LP-5008
La Playa Sextet/Al Castellanos/Sonny Rossi/Joe Cuba/Charlie Palmieri: Everybody's Doing It; Mardi-Gras LP-5012
7La Playa Sextet/Al Castellanos/Sonny Rossi/Joe Cuba/Johnny Conquet: Full House; Mardi-Gras LP-5018
6Charlie Palmieri: Lo Ultimo; Embajador E-6001

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