Friday, August 11, 2017

Mambo for Kittens


Music critic Dan Armonaitis: Sound Observations: I’ve been looking after a jumpin’, rockin’, screamin’ cat

"Having volunteered to take care of a kitten for a friend who was traveling, I thought the feline might provide a muse as I struggled to come up with something to write about for this column. But every time I tried to focus on a possible topic, she’d hop in my lap and distract me with her soft fur, warm purr and all-around tenderness. As the clock pushed toward midnight before the column’s deadline, I wondered if that darn cat was on the verge of causing me to go to work the next morning empty-handed.

"But just as everything seemed hopeless, the kitty jumped off the couch and slowly walked away. The next thing I know, I look up and she’s crawling across the top of a high back chair during one of her mischievous jaunts toward the spiral staircase in my living room.

"At that precise moment, I found what I’d been looking for. Marrakesh, the kitten, had provided a muse after all. Hanging right in the pathway that the kitty took, I have a framed copy of a 1955 RCA Victor album called Mambo for Cats that features fascinating abstract artwork by renowned commercial illustrator Jim Flora. I purchased the LP for 50 cents at a garage sale nearly two decades ago solely on the strength of its eye-catching cover. I had no idea what the music would sound like, but, at that moment, I really didn’t care.

"It turns out the album is full of some amazing instrumental Latin jazz performed by orchestras led by seminal musicians Damirón, Don Elliott, Tony Martinez, Noro Morales, Perez Prado and Al Romero."

Friday, June 23, 2017

"It will be a great pleasure to pinch your claw"


Letter from Jim to his longtime friend Gene Deitch, 1972