[We leave it to Marcos Canihuante, Editor in Chief of Ache Newsletter (POB 916, Old Chelsea Station, NYC 10011 USA) to bring you the full story of these mystery recordings. Get the record and read his wonderful liner notes. In the meantime, here is a very brief synopsis --drawn from Senor Canihuante's notes-- about this double album.]
As is often the case with great artists, Sabu's finest hour was something of an accident. Returning from California in 1960, Sabu was offered a chance to record with Al Santiago of Alegre Records. But first Sabu needed a band, and a chance meeting with Louie Ramirez led to the famed Jazz Espagnole session.
Sabu's Jazz Espagnole was and is a masterpiece of modern Latin jazz. Most of the credit is due to ensemble founders Marty Sheller and Louie Ramirez, however. As Lasse Mattsson puts it in the liner notes to Groovin' with Sabu, Sabu usually creates an avalanche of sound. Had he truly initiated the work (instead of joining the band in-progress), he might have created a sound more like his previous Afro-Latin, Afro-Cuban bop, and exotic jazz records.
Fortunately, the record was a success, although success seems to have caught up with Sabu. The band dissolved after only a few months of missed dates and unreliability. But this was not the same band that had played on the Alegre recording. Sabu had had the unenviable task of finding new players, teaching them the repertoire (which he may have failed to do), and coping with new success in New York's Spanish Harlem (El Barrio) -- which was as much a mecca for Latin music as Harlem was for jazz.
The In Orbit and Astronautas de la Pachanga sessions were recorded November 15, 1960 in the wake of Jazz Espagnole. (Gabriel Oller and his recording studio, New York's Spanish Music Center, merit another chapter in the history of Latin jazz.) The musicians this time were either unknowns or listed under pseudonyms, although there is suspicion that the vibes player was Louie Ramirez. In any case, we are lucky to have two more works by the master. And once again, they sound like almost nothing else.
To all involved in this great project --who have returned Sabu safely from orbit, who have released two, truly new LPs-- thank you!
© 1997 Hip Wax