There are crushing moments when illusions, fondly nurtured for years, are shattered.
- Santa Claus isn’t real.
- No Viking ever had horns on his helmet.
- Chairman Kaga, the poncy Japanese playboy who used his personal fortune to create Kitchen Stadium and named his men the Iron Chefs, did not exist.
Not quite as devastating, because I have only just discovered his music, but it was still disappointing to learn that Chaquito, Rey del Cha-Cha-Cha (Chaquito, King of Cha-Cha-Cha), the band leader who produced this stunning Latin-swing EP, was an Englishman by name of John Gregory.
When Swinging Cha-Cha came out, in 1958, Gregory had already been an important musician for a decade, though rather behind the scenes. He was staff arranger for Philips, providing the backing arrangements for the labels stars, including Cleo Laine.
Given the opportunity to put out his own dance records, he adopted a stage name (one of several – he was also known as Nino Rico). You could forgive a bandleader who had done twenty years of backroom arranging for becoming cynical and weary. Instead, as Chaquito, Rey del Cha-Cha-Cha, Gregory draws on his experience performing and in the studio, and produces as lively a Latin dance sound as you could wish to hear.
This track, “Midnight Cha-cha”, features a trumpet solo from “Stan Rodriguez”. I have not been able to find out any more about him, except that he played on lots of Chaquito recordings, but one would not be astonished if he had really been born in Blackpool, as Stanley Rodgers.
But none of that matters. Imagine: it is 1958, and someone cranks up the radiogram.
Inauthentic? Yup, but there is more to life than authenticity. Just ask Chairman Kaga.
- Artist: Chaquito, Rey del Cha-Cha-Cha
- EP Title: Swinging Cha-Cha
- Side 2, Track 1: “Midnight Cha-Cha”
- Format: 7” EP 45 rpm
- Label: Fontana TFE 17045
- Manufactured in: Great Britain
- Year: 1958
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