Forever Cubop and Mambo Mongo

Mongo Santamaria

“The masterful conguero is featured
with his band of the late 1980s”

Mongo Santamaria is considered one of the greatest conga players of all time.

In addition to his technical skills, Santamaria was influential in the many types of music that he performed throughout his long career.

Born in Cuba in 1917, he had a strong career in his home country before moving to the U.S. in 1950.

Santamaria worked with Tito Puente and Cal Tjader in the 1950s, led his own band by the end of the decade, composed “Afro Blue,” and made Herbie Hancock’s “Watermelon Man” into a standard.

At various times, Santamaria played traditional folkloric music, Afro-Cuban jazz, was a pioneer in the bugalu, recorded popular r&b-flavored albums, and ended up leading one of the best Latin jazz bands of the 1980s and ‘90s.

Here is Mongo Santamaria in action with his band in the late 1980s.


Mongo Santamaria, congas
Ray Vega – trumpet
Bobby Porcelli – alto, baritone
Mitch Frohman – soprano, tenor
Bob Quaranta – piano
Bernie Minoso – bass
Johnny Almendra – timbales
Nengue Hernandez – bongo, guiro

-Scott Yanow

Jazz on the Tube has an entire section devoted Cuba and its music.

Details here: Jazz on the Tube – Cuba

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