Harlem Nocturen Cha Cha Cha (Shhh Pt. 7)

Rene Bloch and His Big Latin Band Harlem Nocturne Cha Cha Cha 45 (Hi-Fi, 1959)

Rene Bloch got his first bit of success playing the lead alto sax on Johnny Otis's 1945 hit version of Harlem Nocturne so it is little surprise that his new Latin jazz version of the noir standard would appear right after the Viscounts hit with their classic, guitar lead take. I don't know if you are familiar with Otis's Harlem Nocturne, but if you aren't, it is one you should seek out. Otis was the man who slowed the song down and gave it the moody feel that you know from the Viscounts' version. Rene Bloch's sax is key to the Otis rendition.

After playing with Otis, Bloch immersed himself in the New York Latin jazz scene. His style went from Perez Prado big band to a very short cha cha cha phase (think one record) and finally Latin soul & boogaloo, a scene in which he was a pioneer. Here is one from his brief cha cha cha period.

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