| urbanology |

Mongo Santamaria – mucho mongo

Posted on: December 12, 2007

After the many positive comments on Orlando Cachaito López and requests for more, here are more afro-cuban rythms as promised. Mongo Santamarie was a pioneering Cuban percussionist and one of the most important latin jazz musicians. Extremely talented, his distinct sound and his melodic approach made him the most influential conguero in the jazz world and a funk forerunner. The record has, as every VampiSoul release some linernotes and because I´m tired, I will just type them here:

“Cuban master bongocero and conguero Mongo Santamaria died on February 1, 2003, in Miami. He was 86. This exciting compilation of 19 tunes offers a magnificient sample of six recordings he did between 1973 and 1980 during the salsa boom for the legendary label Vaya, a label belonging to Jerry Masucci, co-founer with Johnny Pacheco of Fania Records.

Grandson of a slave brought to Cuba, Mongo started learning percussions as a kid while assisting at Santeria´s religious ceremonies. Soon he became a formidable bongocero, and at 20 he started his professional career in the orchestra of the cabaret Eden in Havana. He also performed with Chano Poza´s Conjunto Azul, with Conjunto Matamoros and Las Dandies, and with Arsenio Rodriguez. He will later apply on the congas the technique he had developed for the bongos.

In 1958 he moved to Mexico, where he worked with famous mambo king Perez Prado, and years later, after settling in New York City, he performed at the famous Palladium and the Apollo Theater with the Machito and Tito Puente orchestras. From 1958 to 1961 he moved to California to work with vibraphonist Cal Tjader. Generous, extremly talented, he inspired hundreds of musicians who studied his powerful and lyrical style. His distinct sound and his melodic approach made him the most influential conguero in the jazz worlds after the untimely dead of his fellow countryman Chano Pazo in 1948.

Later his career he was responsible for the absorption of Afro-Cuban and Afro-Brazilian rythms into other American popular music such as R&B, Soul and Funk. And that´s what this compilation is about: Latin R&B, Latin soul, Latin funk and Latin jazz. In the early 1970 Mongo had started working with two formidable Colombian musicians: pianist Edy Martinez and saxist and flurist Justo Almario. Almario appears on most of the tunes along with percussionists Steve Berrios. There is also the galvanizing appearances of three major trumpeters: Luiz Ortiz, Victor Paz and Ray Maldonado.

The compilation starts with “Fingers” from the album “Fuego” – a tribute to the master ability to caress the skins. Then, produced by Mongo´s one time lead trumpet Marty Sheller, the tune from the album “Live at the Yankee Stadium” are explosive. It´s Mongo at his best with the infectious “Dr.Gasca” and “Black Dice”. In the tracks from the album “Afro Indio”, Mongo opens a bridge between his afro-cuban culture, funk, R&B and jazz. It was the time of the hits “Lady Marmelade” – with a latin twist – and “Mambomongo”. After compositions from “Sofrito”, “A la Carte” and “Images”, the compilation ends with a bonus: four titles of the 1977´s Fania compilation “Best of”. One of them, “Manteca”, written by Chano Pozo and Dizzy Gillespie, has became the latin jazz anthem. Mongo recorded it for the first time in 1954 with Gillespie big band. In an interview in 1999, Mongo said “I´m not a hero, but I did my best to make everybody happy.” He surely did – as will this compilation”

Luc Delannoy, Mexico DF – March 2004

Mongo´s magic fingers


5 Responses to "Mongo Santamaria – mucho mongo"

Awesome. Since you put me onto Cachaito, I’ve gone hunting for more of that good stuff myself, and I’ve dug up some of his uncle’s work (Israel Cachao Lopez – Master Sessions Vol. 2) as well as some Cal Tjader with Mongo Santamaria. Great stuff.

Urbanology you’re the best!
You never let down your fans!

BTW There’s a new music store opened where I live (Raanana) and guess how its called, that’s right, Ozen Shlishit haha! I didn’t find a Ozen Shlishit store in Shienkin, it moved to the street near it. I got myself some CD’s there.

Thanks for the advice on this one!

thanx for mongo and the anti cristhmas!

it´s a pleasure to please you 🙂

cal tjader is great, bought some of his records very cheap, second hand and in good conditions in the last months

raanana, fresh 😉
so that is very near to tel aviv, I don´t think you have too many record shops in the negev and you´re lucky to live there… 🙂
I don´t know Raanana, but once I was in Herzliyya, this smaller cities around tel aviv always seemed like suburbs of the big orange to me

Hi urbanology,

danke für dein Lob und deinen Link!
Hast du nen bestimmten Wunsch, wie ich deinen Blog in meiner Blogroll “etikettieren” soll (da ich zu allen verlinkten Blogs eine kleine Genrebeschreibung hinzufüge)?

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