Mongo returns – to the Fantasy label group, not the scene, from which he had never been missing in action. Yet in another sense, it is a return to the basic Mongo Santamaria Afro-Cuban-rooted sound and concept – with a few contemporary elements – that the ageless leader had been employing ever since he stopped trying to chase after hits. Marty Sheller continues to turn out the charts; in addition to three of his own tunes, he gratefully revives two unusual overlooked '70s gems, Stevie Wonder's "You've Got It Bad, Girl" and Marvin Gaye's "When Did You Stop Loving Me, When Did I Stop Loving You" in his old boogaloo manner.
Reissue with the latest 2014 DSD remastering. Comes with liner notes. Mongo Santamaria at the height of his Latin Soul years – working on a cool Columbia session titled after an earlier hit, but served up with his new lean sound of the late 60s! The album's got that perfect Santamaria combo from the time – a group that features trumpet and these wonderfully sharp arrangements from the great Marty Sheller – plus very smoking reed work from a young Hubert Laws, wailing away on flute and tenor, and Bobby Capers on alto and baritone – both players who mix jazz and soul instrumental modes, to bring a hell of a lot of feeling to the overall sound of the band – in ways that really get past more familiar use of trumpet or trombone in other Latin combos. The band grooves nicely on original material like "Streak O Lean", "Ricky Tick", "Do It To It", "Fatback", "Coconut Milk", and "Jose Outside" – and they also reprise Mongo's big hit "Watermelon Man".
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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.