Mongo Santamaría

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Yambu Review

by Stephen Cook

Mongo returns to his Cuban roots with this descarga-rich affair. Eschewing the big bands of his mambo beginnings and the boogaloo of later releases, Santamaria brings together a host of top Latin percussionists for a trip through the musical history of Cuban music. This was one of the percussionists first outing for Fantasy, and he sets the stage for a fine career with meditations on a slew of his native rhythms ("Yambu"), deities ("Longoito"), and celebrations ("Conga par Gozar," a Carnaval favorite), and the rumba gets a few mighty references as well. Joining the party are such percussion greats as Modesto Duran, Francisco Aguabella, Carlos Vidal, and Pablo Mozo. Skins madness with a whole lot of soul.