02/19/2008 05:50 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Something Unequivocally Fine from Cuba

First of all, just to add my voice to the multitude, on this day of Fidel's retirement: End the disgraceful, pernicious embargo of Cuba!

Second: This titbit from the Ali Baba's treasury that is Cuban music.

Talk about Putting on the Good Foot! The dancing cat's name is (I gather) El Bacalao; the group is Cuba's beloved Orquesta Aragon. Aragon were and are peerless purveyors of charanga music -- riffing violins, a flute out front, a trio or so singing clipped Mills Brother's-like harmonies, and a trim rhythm section churning underneath. One of the great dance musics in the world!

Aragon led the cha-cha-cha invasion; and if you think cha-cha-cha is something wicky-wacky, just wait till you get out on the dance floor and hear that bank of violins playing R&B riffs. (For that, Carlos Santana's "Oye Como Va" is a cha-cha-cha in the original; check out Tito Puente's smoking version).

The band was born in the late 30's, but a version is still going strong. I've caught Aragon in New York over the years. Some of the greatest times of joyous live music I've broken a sweat to. The clip here is from the 60's, I believe. Para bailar, para gozar!

Appreciations to, where this post first appeared on my blog Brain Flakes.