Mongo Santamaria

Chris Coyne

Mongo Santamaria

Mongo Santamaría has been acknowledged as one of the true virtuosos of jazz, a musical style he cultivated from his very beginnings in his native Cuba in the 1940s.

His collaboration with the legendary Conjunto Matamoros earned him enormous celebrity. Having made a name for himself in his native country, he went to New York to begin a new stage of his career.

Influenced by the masters, Pérez Prado (“The Mambo King”) and Tito Puente, he fell into the prevailing musical trends of the time, but Mongo Santamaría would make important contributions to the genre – such as combining Latin beats with jazz.

In 1962, he put together his own band, which showcased his virtuosity as a percussionist, composer, and producer. A legend, his discography includes such successes as “Images,” “Love at Yankee Stadium,” “Mongo at the Village Gate,” “Sofrito,” and “Afro Blue,” which was adopted into the discographies of such consecrated jazz stars as Dizzy Gillespie.

With his passing in 2000, Mongo Santamaría gained legendary status for generations to come.

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