Johnny Pacheco & Monguito “El Único” Santamaría – Sabrosura
Ramón Quián is Monguito “El Único” (the one and only); not to be confused with Mongo Santamaria or his son, Monguito; who were recording artists as well. Monguito was born in Cuba and died in 2006. He performed with Orquesta Mazzuet in his native town before relocating to Havana, where he sang with Orquesta Modernista and Conjunto Modelo. In the 1950s, Monguito “El Único” moved to Mexico where he worked with Pepe Arévalo y Sus Mulatos and appeared in three movies. In 1962, Monguito moved to New York and joined the Orquesta Broadway. He recorded his first album with Arsenio Rodriguez in 1963 for the Roost Records label.
You’ll notice how well he blends in with the Johnny Pacheco ensemble, which includes such luminaries as Javier Vazquez (catch his piano solo on “Soy De Cuagueyran”), Mario Hernandez on tres (a superb solo in “Camina y Prende el Fogon” and “No Hay Amor Sin Caridad”), and his usual array of excellent percussionists who keep the rhythm section tight. Monguito sang with Pacheco’s band in the mid-sixties. In this album he shows his versatility singing typical Pacheco arrangements as well as doing a fine job with the Vicentico Valdes classic bolero “La Gloria Eres Tu”. He was a Cuban vocalist, bandleader, producer and composer. He was a respected Afro-Cuban sonero with a simple improvising and a distinctive nasal quality to his voice. In 1967, he made his Fania solo debut with the album titled Johnny Pacheco Presents Monguito. Much like Ismael Rivera and other great soneros, Monguito “El Único” embodies an earthy, pragmatic aesthetic in the tradition of the Cuban Son Montuno sound forged in the streets of Cuba. —Bobby Marin