Instead of opting for an exhaustive double set like Rhino, Ace has compiled a best of Santamaria's early work taken from the Riverside, Battle, and Fantasy back catalog. Recorded between 1958 and 1964, the songs on this set cover the era in which the Cuban-born percussionist added a Latin tinge to both mainstream jazz and pop. The early Herbie Hancock composition "Watermelon Man" was a big hit and made Santamaria a star while bringing Afro-Latin jazz into the mainstream. By 1964, Georgie Fame scored a number one hit in the U.K. with Santamaria's "Yeah Yeah" showing how far his influence had traveled. The combination of tequila-soaked bongos and soulful jazz are a winner and timeless party music for all to enjoy.
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