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This is a excellent single-disc sampler of what Mongo Santamaria was like before "Watermelon Man" catapulted him into the charts. Some of the Fantasy tracks sound like the musicians were just off the boat from Havana, and are a bit primitive in contrast to the brassy Santamaria of the mid- to late '60s, but they have overwhelming charm. The revered "Afro-Blue" can be heard in its original, spooky, stripped-down form, and it would be hard for anyone to resist the voodoo spell that the ten-plus minute "Mazacote" conveys. Besides Santamaria himself, included among the world-class percussionists on this record are Willie Bobo and Armando Peraza. The CD version adds four tracks, including "Watermelon Man" from the Battle/Riverside period and an alternate take of "Para Ti."
Performance CreditsMongo Santamaría Primary Artist,Percussion,Conga
Armando Peraza Percussion,Bongos,Conga
Niño Rivera Tres
Francisco Aguabella Conga
Willie Bobo Timbales
Rudy Calzado Vocals
João Donato Piano
Modesto Duran Conga
Rolando Lozano Flute
Carlos Vidal Percussion,Conga
Chombo Silva Tenor Saxophone
Rudy Calizado Vocals
Felix "Pupi" Legarreta Violin
Jose Chombo Silva Tenor Saxophone
Willie 3030 Timbales
Carlos Yidal Percussion,Conga
Technical CreditsJosé Luis Cortés Producer
Phil Carroll Art Direction
Jim Easton Engineer
José Fernando Cortés Producer