Pairing Mongo Santamaria with producer/composer Neal Creque, Mongo '70 moves the percussion virtuoso away from the covers-heavy pop-soul of his Columbia LPs in favor of Latin-inspired jazz-funk of surprising gravitas. Creque's original material boasts a drama and complexity absent from the flower-power hits that were Santamaria's bread and butter in years past, and the conguero responds in kind with his most vibrant and powerful performance in some time. This two-fer also includes the blistering Mongo at Montreux, recorded live at the 1971 Montreux Jazz Festival. Embracing all facets of his expansive musical vision, the set spans soulful Latin boogaloo grooves like "Come Candela" to psychedelic jazz renditions of pop hits like the Temptations' "Cloud Nine" to straight-up funk excursions like "Climax," all of it relentlessly energetic music genetically engineered for dancing -- most impressive of all is "Conversation in Drums," a virtual primer in Latin percussion.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Ankeny