La Bamba

Mongo Santamaría

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La Bamba Review

by Richard S. Ginell

One good hit deserves a remake, so Columbia had Mongo Santamaria redo his breakthrough record "Watermelon Man" on his second LP for the label. Indeed, it is this brighter, better-recorded version that we generally hear on the radio nowadays instead of the Battle original. Even better, though, are "Fatback" and the wildly swinging workout on "La Bamba" that kicks off the album, to which you can imagine the foxy blonde model on the cover dancing the boogaloo. Marty Sheller's charging arrangements and trumpet are in the driver's seat of this sports car with the Mongo engine, and Hubert Laws has a ball in his flute and tenor sax solos. Few records embodied the go-go spirit of the '60s as well as this Latin jazz album.

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