Los Zafiros
Bossa Cubana
World Circuit/Nonesuch (http://www.worldcircuit.co.uk/)

Listening to Los Zafiros (The Sapphires), a '60s Havana vocal sensation, one immediately hears the influence of Frankie Lymon and The Platters, and - more subtly- the roots of Cuban groups today like Vocal Sampling. But the dramatic doo-wop harmonies and R&B strains of Manuel Galbán's twangy electric guitar never overwhelm Los Zafiros' mastery of bolero, bossa nova, samba and related forms. Underneath it all is a solid Afro-Cuban rhythmic foundation, provided by bassists Papito Hernandéz and Orlando "Cachaito" López, Roberto García (bongos), Tata Güines (congas), and drummers Guillermo Barreto and Emilio del Monte. Given Cuban music and dance's longstanding popularity in West Coast Mexican American communities, I'd guess that only the Cold War kept Los Zafiros from developing a loyal following there as well. You probably have never heard anything like Los Zafiros, but it's not too late. - Michael Stone

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