Paroram machines were found in urban centers with large Hispanic populations that had, at one point in time, emigrated from Mexico, the Caribbean, and both Central and South America– the 1946 Soundies catalog lumps them all together as “Latin” – and Soundies were produced for this audience everyone else who enjoyed “Latins sounds. As a result, we have wonderful music from the bands of Fraylan Maya, Nilo Menendez, Herbert Curbelo, and Noro Morales.
Born Norosbaldo Morales in Puerto Rico (January 4, 1911, or 1912), Noro Morales would become one of the leading Latin bandleaders of the 1940s. Mainly active along the East Coast, Morales popularized mambo and rhumba rhythms through recordings, radio and stage appearances. One can only imagine how thrilled the Soundies executives were knowing that they were releasing a series of shorts from a band that had a hit record, “Serenata Ritmica,” on the charts. While the band does not get a lot of attention on screen, the strong polyrhythms from the percussion players spotlight a very young Tito Puente.
Dolores del Carmen, who receives top billing, was a Manhattan-based nightclub dancer, as were Nino and Lenora, recent winners of a contest conducted by a Spanish- American newspaper to find the most popular dance team in NYC.
Throughout its history, Soundie producers often displayed a deep mistrust in the music’s ability to hold its own on screen. In this Soundie the trope of the drunk at the bar putting the make on the woman with the large boyfriend is repeated in an unfunny manner.
The name of the song played on the soundtrack is “Los Hijos of Buda,” which translates to “Children of Buddha.” Since this would mean little to viewers, it was added as a subtitle with the main song credit being “Mexican Jumping Bean.” This would have certainly confused viewers who would have expected the familiar Mexican folk melody.
One notice in the trades suggests that Noro Morales might have been booked at the Copacabana at this time. Once again this allows us to board the Soundies “time machine” and experience a nightclub floorshow, in this case dating from December 1941.