Mongo Santamaría  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Ramón "Mongo" Santamaría (April 7, 1922 in Havana, CubaFebruary 1, 2003) was an Afro-Cuban Latin jazz percussionist. He is most famous for being the composer of the jazz standard "Afro Blue," recorded by John Coltrane among others. In 1950 he moved to New York where he played with Perez Prado, Tito Puente, Cal Tjader, Fania All Stars, etc. He was an integral figure in the fusion of Afro-Cuban rhythms with R&B and soul, paving the way for the boogaloo era of the late 1960s. His 1963 hit rendition of Herbie Hancock's "Watermelon Man" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998.

Additionally, his name is used as a pun in the film Blazing Saddles. When the character of Mongo entered a scene, a character cried, "Mongo! Santa Maria!".

He is buried in Woodlawn Park Cemetery and Mausoleum (now Caballero Rivero Woodlawn Park North Cemetery and Mausoleum).



As leader

  • Afro-Cuban Drums SMC Pro-Arte 592 33 1/3 10 in. rpm phonorecord (1952)
  • Drums and Chants (Changó) Vaya CD 56 (1954)
  • Tambores y Cantos (1955)
  • Yambu: Mongo Santamaria y Sus Ritmos Afro Cubano (1958)
  • Mongo Fantasy phonorecord 3291 (1959) featuring the first recording of "Afro-Blue."
  • Afro Roots (Yambú, Mongo) Prestige CD 24018-2 (1958, 1959)
  • Our Man in Havana (1959)
  • Mongo en La Habana (1960) with Carlos Embale and Merceditas Valdés
  • Sabroso! (1960) – with tresero and composician Andrés Echeverría
  • Go, Mongo! (1962)
  • Watermelon man! (1963) (Battle Records)
  • Mongo At The Village Gate (1963) (Riverside Records)
  • El Bravo! (1964)
  • La Bamba (1965)
  • Pussy Cat (1965)
  • "Hey! Let's Party" (1967)
  • Afro-American Latin (1969)
  • Stone Soul (1969)
  • Mongo´70 (1970)
  • Feelin' Alright (1970)
  • Mongo's Way (1971)
  • Up From the Roots (1972)
  • "Fuego" (1972)
  • Ubané (1974) with Justo Betancourt on vocals
  • "Afro-Indio" (1975)
  • Sofrito (1976)
  • Amanecer (1977) – won a Grammy award
  • A La Carte (1978)
  • Red Hot (1979)
  • Summertime (1981) with Dizzy Gillespie and Toots Thielemans
  • Soy Yo (1987)
  • You Better Believe It (1979)
  • Mambo Mongo (1993)
  • Mongo Returns (Milestone Records, 1995)
  • Conga Blue (1995)
  • Come on Home (1997)
  • Mongo Santamaria (1998)

As sideman

With Dizzy Gillespie

  • Afro (Norgran, 1954)

With Lalo Schifrin

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Mongo Santamaría" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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