Trash...Can't Compare to Sofrito...
Mike DiMartino | Rochester, NY | 10/29/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I'd have to say this was the low point of the five albums I was on during my five years with Mongo, '75-'80. The album was a total flop. Just a few years after we did it, I once noticed it in the 50 cents bin at a grocery store. Let me tell you the story of the making of RED HOT.
In 1979 Mongo's new manager, Jack Hook, convinced Mongo to sign with Tappen Zee. Seemed like a big break, as this label was a subsidiary of Columbia (CBS Sony). But the problem was the label's producer, Jay Chataway. He hadn't done his Latin music homework, had no idea what Afro-Cuban Mongo was about, and could not have cared less. In all my 43 years in music, I have never seen a more egomaniacal schmuck with such a cocky, sarcastic disrespect for musicians he had never met--most inappropriate for a producer, whose job is to bring the best out of a session's musicians. Chataway wanted Mongo to remake his big hit "Watermelon Man." Our saxophonist brought in an arrangement of it that reflected the current direction of the band. But Chataway rejected it, and overnight, to the shock and dismay of the guys in the band, he slapped together the most contrived, cheezy piece of trash you could ever imagine. It was an insult to Mongo's legend, but after we made a few alterations, Mongo graciously agreed to record it.
Our pianist then, Bill O'Connell, brought in a really fresh original called "January," which featured myself on trumpet and a traps solo by our percussionist Steve Berrios. The chord changes were not easy to negotiate; so I had prepared a solo, so that the takes would go OK. I was very into Clifford at that time, and I used a lot of his little trills and mordents in my playing then. I had a feeling Chataway never intended to use "January" for the LP, and that he only wanted to torment me and wear me down by having use do take after take after take...for nothing. Well, at the end of the sixth take, Chataway, obviously not a Clifford Brown enthusiast, commented to me, "Yeah, Ziggy Elman!" That snotty comment was a reference to Ziggy's classic "And the Angels Sing," in which he plays a Jewish-style interlude with lots of trills and mordents. At the end of the tenth take, that clown uttered, "Yeah, nice prepared solo!" Of course this served his ego--he just had to let us know he was so hip and aware that he could spot the same lines solo after solo.
On a few tunes, our group was augmented by a trumpet section of John Faddis, Lew Soloff and Randy Brecker (yes, Chataway, immediately assigned me to fourth trumpet). The only one of those three with any class was Soloff, a great fellow--and teacher--who'll talk trumpet with you all night if you want. Faddis, the famous Dizzy-wish-he-was, was a joker who had nothing more professional to do than to make faces and wink at me (rubbing it in that I was bumped to 4th) throughout the session. Randy Brecker, sitting right next to me, refused to return my hello. Imagine these egomaniacs coming to play in MY band and acting this way towards me!
Chataway was openly bored at all our sessions, but didn't he perk up at session's end, insisting we all come into the CBS screening room to hear his recording of Bob James' TAXI TV theme being dubbed into the show's opening credits. That scene always left a bad taste; I never once watched that show. Small wonder RED HOT was Mongo's first and last for Chataway and his soon-to-flop Tappen Zee label. Well, if want this CD, go for it, though I can't understand why the usually discerning Japanese wasted their time issuing this garbage. You should have plucked it from the 50 cents bin when you had the chance. That's all that session and its memories are worth.
I'm ol' Mike DiMartino in Rochester, NY.
Eduardo Lopez Sanchez | Tehuacan, Pue. MX | 01/11/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Magnifico disco de jazz afroamericano..solos increibles de Bob James, Hubert Laws, Eric Gale, Mark Colby.."