Dancin' & Prancin'
Far and away the best disco album fronted by a 50-something musician who got his start before even rock and roll was a thing, Candido’s Dancin’ & Prancin' took a somewhat off-kilter idea — hey, let’s get a veteran Afro-Cuban congalero in the studio and see what we can get happening for the dancefloor — to its ideally feverish conclusion. As one of those LPs that manages to get a ton of mileage out of just four songs — three of which push past the nine-minute mark — Dancin’ & Prancin' thrives because it feels like a big-budget studio-session group letting their freeform jam-session tendencies loose. Candido’s role is crucial, of course; as the man of the hour, his blistering performance through a wide array of Latin percussion provides both a steady rhythmic hand and an unpredictably emphatic sense of dynamic intensity. (The opportunity to hear him go absolutely all-out on Olatunji’s “Jingo” is worth it in itself — he finds pretty much every available space to elaborate between the lines of the 4/4 beat that it feels like a deliberate riposte to disco’s rep for repetition.) But in another, less-heralded way, this is also an excellent Louis Small showcase: the Bronx-rooted Latinaires co-founder makes like the Keith Emerson of Latin soul on three of the four tracks here (“Jingo”, the ebullient title cut, and the muy misterioso “Thousand Finger Man”), riffing off Candido’s percussion with a litany of percussively-propulsive yet melodically lively keyboards ranging from funky clavinet to space-age Arp synths to house-anticipating piano.