The Candid label recorded a series of live performances of the great Cuban percussionist Ramon "Mongo" Santamaria (Havana, 1917-2003), the 'King of the Conga', conducting his musical octet for two nights at the jazz club Upper Westside of Birdland (New York) in 1992. This CD, reissued in 1995 and later in 2003 after his death, contains 12 of the tracks recorded. Mongo popularity arose from its ability to accurately combine Afro-Latin rhythms with jazz and blues, marking a very specific tempos and achieving a spectacular and captivating rhythmic expressiveness. In this record Mongo fuses burning rhythms of soca, samba, chacha or boogaloo with jazz or blues themes.
Quatro: The Definitive Collection assembles four truly classic Tito Puente albums recorded between 1955 and 1960 for RCA, and adds a disc of outtakes, alternate takes, and rarities in a lavishly designed limited-edition box set. The box is 6" x 6" with each album housed individually in a thick cardboard sleeve with back and front facsimile cover art. These four albums were cut in chronological order: Cuban Carnival (1956), Night Beat (1957), Dance Mania (1958), and Revolving Bandstand (1960), the last recorded in collaboration with the Buddy Morrow Orchestra.
Mango Santamaria utilizes a colorful cast of musicians on this CD. Flutists Hubert Laws and Dave Valentin are featured on two songs apiece (although unfortunately not together) and the nonet has trumpeter Eddie Allen, altoist Jimmy Cozier, and Craig Rivers on tenor and soprano, along with three percussionists. There are a lot of percussion features including the closing nine-and-a-half minute "La Mogolla," making this an excellent if not quite essential recording.
Kicking off the brand new Latin Series from Future Loops is Conexion Latina, a 2GB collection that dives deep into the world of Latin music , exploring a wide variety of styles and instruments. Conexion Latina is a versatile and colorful library that features all the elements you need to build Latin flavored tracks or to spice up virtually any music genre from Hip Hop to Dance music.
Applying their famous two-fer philosophy to the digital era, Fantasy combines Mighty Mongo and Viva Mongo! on a single CD, showcasing two somewhat different slants on Mongo Santamaria's music during a period of exploration. Mighty Mongo leans more to Mongo's jazz side without sacrificing his Afro-Cuban rhythmic base, while Viva Mongo has a more distinctly ethnic Cuban sound with Rudy Calzado's solo vocals and the band's group chanting, Rolando Lozano's wooden flute riding playfully above the ensemble, and the traditional Cuban use of string counterlines. On Mighty Mongo, "Descarga at the Black Hawk" sets an especially tasty groove, with some timbales/congas/cymbals action on an extended vamp.