Some would say the title of this package is deceptive, as it only covers his mid- to late-'60s period with Columbia (and should not be confused with other Mongo Santamaria releases with similar titles covering different eras, such as Fantasy's). Furthermore, some would also say that it's not representative of Santamaria's best work, or that representative of Santamaria at all, since it's largely devoted to some of his most pop-oriented material. That's the purist stance, anyway. Because actually, this disc is for the most part a gas, even if it is not among the more Latin-esque or jazzy of his recordings. His Columbia stint saw the influence of soul become ascendant upon his studio output and indeed, many of the tunes here are soul covers: "Cloud Nine," "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay," "Twenty-Five Miles," "Cold Sweat," and "Green Onions." Being commercial, however -- and this was an attempt by Santamaria and Columbia to be commercial, as both Santamaria and producer David Rubinson state in the liner notes -- does not always lead to bad music. Sometimes, indeed, it leads to pretty good music. And the 1964-1969 cuts on this disc are cool, often smokin' boogaloo, that mixture of Latin, jazz, soul, and pop that briefly became in vogue during the '60s. If Mongo and his large bands were disenchanted with this direction, it certainly doesn't show at all in the performances, which have an irresistible verve, whether on tailored-for-Santamaria compositions like "Fatback" or shopworn material like "La Bamba." The 2000 CD reissue's a big improvement on the original 1970 LP, adding five bonus tracks, including a live version of his famous "Afro Blue." The 1965 reading of "Watermelon Man," incidentally, that kicks off this comp is not the original hit rendition, but it's good just the same.