November 28, 2017 posted by Greg Ehrbar

Walt Disney’s Latin American Features on Records – Part 2

As Coco continues to delight moviegoers, we continue to celebrate the glorious sound of Latin music with two vintage albums from Decca and Disneyland Records.

Decca Presents
Music from the WALT DISNEY Picture

Charles Wolcott and His Orchestra
With Ray Gilbert and Nestor Amaral with Banda Da Lua

Decca Records A-373 • 23-M Personality Series / Three 10’ 78 RPM Discs / Mono / 1944 / Running Time: 17 minutes.)

Songs: “The Three Caballeros (Ay Jalisco No Te Rajes)” by Ray Gilbert, Manuel Esperon, Ernesto Cartezar; “Baia (No Baixa do Dapatiero)” by Ray Gilbert, Ary Barroso; “Angel May Care (Os Quindins Ou Ya-Ya)” by Ary Barroso; “You Belong to My Heart (Solamente una Vez)” by Ray Gilbert, Augustin Lara; “Mexico” by Charles Wolcott, Ray Gilbert.
Instrumental: Jesusita (En Chihuahua)” by Quirino Mendoza y Cortés (Traditional).

In an interview that can be seen in the DVD bonus features of the excellent documentary Walt and el Grupo, Walt Disney explains how Saludos Amigos was transformed from four separate shorts into one feature. It’s success—both at the box office and as a “Good Neighbor” relationship builder–led to The Three Caballeros. Perhaps because of the additional time, materials and lessons learned, Caballeros is a much more cohesive film that benefits greatly by having Donald Duck, at the peak of his stardom, for a “through line, as well as some mind-blowing surrealism. Indeed, animation scholars often consider the innovative and unbridled creativity of Caballeros worthy of iconic stature.

There were more vocals in The Three Caballeros, making Decca’s album version a little more limited in length but certainly faithful to the original in every other way. Again, it is not the soundtrack but it does utilize identical arrangements from the score. Replacing the vocalists from the soundtrack are Nestor Amaral, who sings Aurora Miranda’s “Os Quindins Ou Ya-Ya” and Ray Gilbert, who provides the remaining vocals.

Amaral was a singer/songwriter who made his U.S. debut as band leader for Carmen Miranda, whose American stardom eclipsed that of her sister, Aurora. Ray Gilbert may be a familiar name to Disney and Hanna-Barbera music fans as the composer of “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” and all the songs to Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear. Gilbert has a fine range and, though he does not sound quite like a trained singer, having a recording of his voice is certainly a treasure.

The program booklet included with the album duplicates several of the pages in the Saludos Amigos version except those pertaining specifically to The Three Caballeros and various changes in the Decca catalog. Neither of these albums were reissued on vinyl or CD.

“Music from The Three Caballeros”

Note that the opening arrangement of the title song comes from the middle of the film rather than the title section.

Walt Disney’s Music from South of the Border
Disneyland Records WDL-1039 (12” 33 1/3 RPM / Mono)
Currently available digitally on amazon and iTunes
Released in October, 1958. Executive Producer: Jimmy Johnson. Producer: Louis Oliviera. Conductor: Leo Pirachi. Soloist: Dora Luz. Running Time: 30 minutes.

From Saludos Amigos
Songs: “Saludos Amigos” by Aloysio Oliviera, Charles Wolcott, Ned Washington; “Brazil (Aquarela Do Brasil)” by Ary Barroso, S.K. Russell.
Instrumentals: “Lake Titicaca” (includes “Llama Serenade” and “Inca Princess”) by Charles Wolcott; “Argentine Theme” (from Gaucho Goofy) by Edward Plumb, Andrés Chazarreta.

From The Three Caballeros
Songs: “The Three Caballeros (Ay Jalisco No To Te Rajes)” by Ray Gilbert, Manuel Esperon, Ernesto Cartezar; “Baia (No Baixa do Dapatiero)” by Ray Gilbert, Ary Barroso; “Angel May Care (Os Quindins Ou Ya-Ya)” by Ary Barroso; “Have You Ever Been to Baia?” by Gabriel Caymnic; “You Belong to My Heart (Solamente una Vez)” by Ray Gilbert, Augustin Lara.
Instrumental: “Jesusita (En Chihuahua)” by Quirino Mendoza y Cortés (Traditional).

From Melody Time
Song: “Blame it on the Samba” by Ernesto Nazareth.

The title of this album is somewhat misleading, as it offers much more than the title implies: the music of three Walt Disney features — Saludos Amigos, The Three Caballeros and Melody Time. The subtitle of “South of the Border”, or simply “Disney Goes Latin” might be more accurate since less than half of the songs come from Saludos. That detail aside, this is a lavish, fully orchestrated collection that captures the period of early ’40s Latin music.

Most often it is the visual result of the Disney South American excursion that is most heralded, especially the emergence of Mary Blair, and rightly so. It is music that cannot be understated in importance as well. Both “Tico Tico” and “Brazil” were huge hits in their homeland but unknown elsewhere until the Disney group introduced them in Saludos Amigos, making each a standard–“Brazil” becoming a disco smash in the ’70s as well as the theme to the Terry Gilliam film.

In the case of The Three Caballeros, two other songs were adapted with English lyrics and became huge worldwide hits: “Baia” and especially “You Belong to My Heart.” When your author asked a Walt Disney World Mariachi band to play it, all he had to say was “Solamente Una Vez” and they were delighted to play it. Dora Luz, who sang it in the film, performs it especially for this album, all of which was recorded in South America.

Two instrumentals on this album bear such a striking resemblance to those on their respective Decca albums that they may be from the same sources. Upon listening to the Disneyland LP versions of Charles Wolcott’s “Lake Titicaca” (a.k.a. “Inca Suite”) and Edward Plumb’s “Argentine Theme,” it sounds as if Decca edited and sped them up to fit on the shorter 78 RPM records.

One additional song on the Disneyland album is from the Melody Time segment in which Donald, Jose and Panchito danced around popular organist Ethel Smith as she played Blame it on the Samba. Decca released her version of the song on 45 and 78-RPM singles as well as an album called “Dance to the Latin Rhythms of Ethel Smith.”

“Brazil (Aquarela do Brasil)”

At this moment it cannot be verified whether or not Disneyland Records producer/arranger Tutti Camarata had anything to do with this spectacular arrangement, but there are flourishes that suggest his magical touch and he was certainly involved with the session. Either way, it’s one of those pieces that builds to exuberant audio fireworks.



  • Disney’s Latin American films are an underrated, under-appreciated facet of Walt Disney’s legacy. They are dazzlingly colorful and brilliant, amazingly surreal–and Donald Duck’s apex of feature film stardom. (I’ve often wondered what Daisy thought about his cavorting with all of the live-action women. He probably tried to pass it off as “just another acting job” but I doubt that explanation would have satisfied her. At least, she stayed with him afterward so any ruffled feathers must have gotten smoothed over.)

    Donald’s Latin American adventures got revisited in the Walt Disney Presents TV show “Two Happy Amigos” wherein Jose Carioca pays Donald a visit–old footage is replayed but there is also some new animation for the show. Also in “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color” during the first season “Carnival Time” was aired, in which Jose Carioca was Ludwig Von Drake’s correspondent in Rio while Donald was stationed at the Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

    Much later, in “House of Mouse,” the Latin American films again received a tribute, when Mickey asked the trivia question “who was the third member of the Three Caballeros?” (after Panchito and Jose) and even with prompting from Donald the other cast members kept getting the wrong answer. The “House of Mouse” CD also included a rendition of “The Three Caballeros” only set to the tune of “La Bamba” plus a solo song by Panchito explaining his long name (which seems to have been invented for that one occasion, as his surname in the song is presented as Gonzales when in publicity for the original “Three Caballeros” film his surname was Pistoles.)

  • Both films have always been firm favourites of mine – but my 2 year daughter is absolutely obsessed with them.

    Having now rewatched the Three Caballeros on an almost daily basis for the past few months I’m convinced it’s among the studio’s finest achievements – if only for the sheer explosion of extravagant imagination subsequent to Joe Carioca’s arrival, when the film really hits it’s stride.

    Not just that – but despite the visual insanity on display, I’ve been able to maintain my own – which I am certain would not be the case if her obsession was ‘Frozen’ or such like…

  • I love the cover work on the cover of the 1958 version of Saludos Amigos-Walt Disney’s Music from South of the Border which was done by Mary Blair who was part of Walt Disney’s entourage to Mexico,Center and South America.

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