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.
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.
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.