In the Hall of the Mambo King (2002 CD),

1942-1944 (1996 CD),

Sol Tropical "1945-1949",

Anselmo Sacasas "1942-44" (Harlequin, 1996),

Smooth, ebullient dance music from the former arranger of the Orquesta Casino de la Playa. These wartime recordings were made for RCA while Sacasas lived in New York--they are poppy and "Americanized," but sweet nonetheless. Lots of strong vocal tracks, notably those featuring Ruben Gonzalez and Cuso Montoya, who are both robust and rich-sounding in their youth. This disc has excellent sound quality, a notch or so above many similar archival releases. The music is notably punchy, an early and quite vigorous edition of the classic mambo sound, though without the super-shrill brass tone that other artists later adopted. (Note: Tumbao Records has also reissued some of Sacasas' work, along with that of the Orquesta Casino de la Playa.)

Anselmo Sacasas "Poco Loco: 1945-1949" (Tumbao, 1995),

Before forming his own group, pianist Sacasas crossed paths with many of the leading lights of Cuban popular music--Tito Puente, Xavier Cugat, the Orquesta Casino de la Playa, Miguelito Valdes, etc. These post-war recordings dovetail with the Interstate Music disc of Sacasas' 1942-1944 band; both CDs feature bubbly dance music, which is alternately suave and tinny. With the great Ruben Gonzalez on vocals, no less! There's quite a bit of overlap between this and the 1942-44 album reviewed above, though each has several songs not included on the other, so both albums are worth picking up.