Mongo Santamaria

Only the Best of Mongo Santamaria

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The mighty percussionist Mongo Santamaria left Columbia Records in late 1969 to sign with Atlantic Records. He cut his first album for the label -- Mongo '70 -- in 1970, and his last -- Up from the Roots -- in 1972. In between were three others. With the exception of that final album, which employed African drums instead of congas on an album of traditional folk-oriented material, Santamaria's sides for Atlantic were all uptempo grooving, funky soul jazz which was a natural outgrowth of his boogaloo sides for Columbia. Collectables issues all five of the early '70 sides in a generic, but decently priced three-CD set. This was the period where Santamaria was playing soul-jazz versions of chart hits that ranged from Motown hits to rock & roll tunes. That he did it with such flair, hard-driving funkiness, and innovative arrangements makes all of these recordings prime listening material in the 21st century.

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