Mongo Santamaria

Montreux Heat

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This previously unreleased set from the 1980 Montreux Jazz Festival features the pacesetting Afro-Cuban jazz conguero Mongo Santamaria and his frequently blazing seven-piece band. With trumpeter Tommy Villarini (whose high-note flurries sound a little like Jon Faddis in spots) and saxophonists Doug Harris and Allen Hoist (who takes a rare spot on cello) taking heated solos and Santamaria a major force throughout, this is highly enjoyable music. "Watermelon Man" has guest appearances by trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and harmonica great Toots Thielemans, although Gillespie is inaudible and Thielemans is largely buried in the band. It really does not matter, for Santamaria's group is quite stirring by itself. Milton Hamilton's long and inventive, unaccompanied introduction to "Solrito" is a highlight of this highly recommended date.

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