Friday, 19 April 2019

Mongo Santamaria ‎– Afro Roots (1989)

Style: Afro-Cuban
Format: CD
Label: Prestige

01.   Afro Blue
02.   Che-Que-Re-Que-Che-Que
03.   Rezo
04.   Ayenye
05.   Onyae
06.   Bata
07.   Meta Rumba
08.   Chano Pozo
09.   Los Conguitos
10.   Monte Adentro
11.   Imaribayo
12.   Mazacote
13.   Yeye
14.   Congobel
15.   Macunsere
16.   Timbales Y Bongo
17.   Yambu
18.   Bricamo
19.   Longoito
20.   Conga Pa Gozar
21.   Columbia

A CD reissue of a mid-'70s repackaging of Mongo Santamaria's first two Fantasy albums, 1958's Yambu and 1959's Mongo, Afro-Roots is superb Latin jazz. Although these were Santamaria's first albums as a leader, the conga player had already worked with Pérez Prado, Tito Puente, and Cal Tjader, giving him absolutely impeccable Latin jazz credentials to go along with his obviously amazing chops. Considering that these albums were recorded for a general jazz audience and the tight, concise arrangements don't allow Santamaria room to stretch out as he did in concert (most of the songs are in the two- to three-minute range), Afro-Roots is still an impressively genuine album; although the '50s were the age of Martin Denny-style exotica kitsch, most of these tracks are extremely traditional Cuban music. Some, like "Bata" and "Timbales y Bongo," are simply hypnotic solos on the titular instruments, while others are traditional Afro-Cuban folk songs and chants. The delightful original "Afro Blue," which quickly became a Latin jazz standard, almost sounds out of place in this setting. 
Stewart Mason / AllMusic

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