April is Jazz Appreciation Month and Jazz FM appreciates Afro-Cuban percussionist Mongo Santamaria.
April 7th is the birthday anniversary of the great percussionist and band leader Mongo Santamaria, a 'conguero' (conga player).
Mongo came out of Havana and brought his style of rumba rhythm to the USA in 1950 playing congas in Tito Puente’s band and later with vibes player Cal Tjader. He sits right near the very root of Latin jazz. His most enduring composition is ‘Afro Blue’ which has been recorded by countless legends of jazz including John Coltrane. Jazz FM is currently playing an explosive new version of this song by veteran pianist Harold Mabern featuring Gregory Porter.
Santamaria’s blend of Afro-Cuban rhythm and r&b created the sound known as ‘boogaloo’ in the 1960s and even made the pop charts with a 1963 version of Herbie Hancock’s ‘Watermelon Man’ which has subsequently been inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame.