b. Ramón Quian, Manguito, Matanzas Province, Cuba. Titled ‘El Unico’ (The Unique), this Afro-Cuban vocalist, composer, band leader, producer Monguito, sings in a typical Cuban style with an instantly recognizable, nasal voice. He performed with various bands in Cuba, and then Mexico, where he also worked in three films. In 1962, Monguito El Unico relocated to New York and initially joined Orquesta Broadway. The following year he made his album debut with Arsenio Rodríguez. In 1964, Monguito shared lead vocals with Pete ‘El Conde’ Rodríguez and sang coro (chorus) on Pacheco At The N.Y. World’s Fair by, Johnny Pacheco. Pete departed and Monguito became co-lead singer with Chivirico Dávila on Pacheco’s Pacheco Te Invita A Bailar and Viva Africa. In 1966, Monguito appeared on the Tico All Stars’ Descargas At The Village Gate - Live albums. He sessioned with Chivirico on Herbie Mann’s Latin Mann, and featured on Larry Harlow’s Bajándote, singing the hit title track, ‘Cienfuegos’. Monguito went solo in 1967 with Pacheco Presents Monguito, and released a further three albums up to 1971. He sang lead on ‘Me Gusto El Son’ with the Fania All Stars on their debut Live At The Red Garter, Vol. 1 in 1968. His 1979 release, Yo No Soy Mentiroso, produced by Roberto Torres, went gold. It was the third album issued on the new SAR label, founded by Sergio Bofill, Andriano García and Torres. Torres developed a highly successful house style tailored for the West African and French-speaking Caribbean markets. He stretched out Cuban son montunos and guajiras, often using old Cuban standards, with plenty of spaces for soloing. Monguito toured Africa in 1980, and recorded as a lead singer and musical director for the Ivory Coast-based Sacodis label. Monguito paralleled the SAR sound with Sacodis and used many leading New York-based musicians for the sessions, including pianist/arranger Alfredo Valdés Jnr., who was SAR’s house arranger; violinists Alfredo De La Fé and Félix ‘Pupi’ Legarreta; vocalist Adalberto Santiago; saxophonist/flautist Mario Rivera. Torres produced his 1982 and 1984 albums on the Toboga label, which was a stablemate of SAR. In 1985, Monguito issued Yo Soy La Meta on Caiman Records, which was a successor of SAR.
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