Mongo Santamaria

Stone Soul

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By now, Mongo Santamaria was basically tied to the formula of translating pop and soul hits of the day - "See Saw," "Love Child," "Little Green Apples" etc. - into his Latin soul jazz idiom, but he and his band perform with so much energy and pizzazz that the music seems anything but routine. Way up front on most of these tunes is featured soloist Sonny Fortune, wailing in a blatantly exciting R&B mode on alto sax. Marty Sheller does most of the hyped-up charts, but the best one may be the sensuous cha-cha treatment of "Where We Are" by pianist Rodgers Grant. Mongo even got a Top 40 hit (No. 32) out of his flaming treatment of the Temptations' "Cloud Nine" -- and he gets to work up a fine sweat on his "Hitchcock Railway" solo. A great match of a hot-tempered Latin band and commercial considerations.