Afro Blue – 1984

Mongo Santamaria


The masterful conguero performs his most famous original

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Mongo Santamaria (1917-2003) was born in Havana, started playing professionally in 1937, moved to the U.S. in 1950, worked with Tito Puente and Cal Tjader, and led his own popular bands during his last 40 years.

While Santamaria’s greatest hit was “Watermelon Man” (written by Herbie Hancock but sometimes mistakenly attributed to Santamaria), his most successful original was “Afro Blue” which some mistakenly think was composed by John Coltrane.

For this version of “Afro Blue” from 1984, Santamaria is joined by his regular band of the period which consists of trumpeter E.J. Allen, altoist Sam Furnace, tenor-saxophonist Tony Hinson, pianist Bob Quaranta, bassist Eddie Resto, drummer Bobby Sanabria, and Sal Santamaria on percussion.

Santamaria, Hinson (who plays a particularly fiery solo) and Quaranta all have their spots during the fine rendition.

-Scott Yanow


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