Mongo Santamaria

All Strung Out

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Like most of Mongo Santamaria's Columbia efforts, All Strung Out consists largely of blistering Latin soul renditions of contemporary pop hits -- the formula may frustrate listeners yearning for a return to the traditional charanga sensibilities that defined the percussionist's early dates for Fantasy, but there's no denying the sheer energy and infectiousness of this music. As always, Santamaria approaches familiar pop texts like "Day Tripper" and "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" with deep respect and understanding, creating soulful, righteous rhythms that snake in and out of the original melodies with brilliant precision. Arranger Marty Sheller is in top form here as well, complementing Santamaria's relentless conga drumming with soaring horns and scorching piano -- the album's centerpiece, "Do Your Thing," may signify the apex of their collaboration, capturing Latin soul at its most transcendentally funky.