343

Mongo Santamaria: Montreux Heat!

Chris M. Slawecki By

Sign in to view read count
Mongo Santamaria: Montreux Heat! Even if not quite essential, this new release is drawn from the same 1980 Montreux Jazz Festival performance from which Santamaria’s live recording Summertime was previously released (Pablo, 1981) – including all three encores – and so helps to complete a more well-rounded portrait of the legendary Afro-Cuban conguero/bonguero as the 1970s transitioned to the ‘80s. It’s Afro- Cuban jazz from someone who helped forge the mold.

More warm than hot, this is one more fitting coda to Mongo's illuminative and illustrious career. Surrounded by a tight band of longtime associates in Lee Smith (bass), Doug Harris (flute, tenor and soprano saxophones), and Steve Berrios (drums and percussion), plus Milton Hamilton (piano), Allen Hoist (flute, cello, and alto and baritone saxophones), and trumpet player Tommy Villarini, Santamaria almost never puts himself in the solo spotlight. “T.V.” is programmed for the bassist and for the composer and trumpet player whose initials comprise its title, “Sofrito” for pianist Hamilton, and “Pájaro Cantor” for the cellist... but Mongo only puts himself in the spotlight two times, for a few quick bars toward the end of “Pájaro Cantor” and even more briefly in the “Watermelon Man” mid- song break. Still, his bongos and congas rock the music hard and are indispensable to its groove.

The eleven-minute playing time for “Sofrito,” the set’s best performance, is misleading, as it opens with seven minutes of often breathtaking improvised piano, mostly solo but with occasional percussion counterpoint. Villarini breathes fire in his “T.V.” spotlight, in the second encore (“Amanacer”), and in “Sofrito,” scaling incendiary runs with the precision of a scalpel in daring, “dizzy”-ing fashion.

“Watermelon Man” features Dizzy Gillespie on trumpet and Toots Thielemans on harmonica. Though Harris and Thielemans each take two solo turns, Gillespie plays only the melody and horn counterpoint lines and does not solo.


Track Listing: T.V., Havana, Sofrito, Pajaro Cantor, Watermelon Man, Come Candela, Amanecer, Para Ti

Personnel: Mongo Santamaria (congas, bongos); Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet); Toots Thielemans (harmonica); Tommy Villarini (trumpet, percussion, cowbell); Doug Harris (tenor sax, soprano sax, flute); Allen Hoist (alto sax, baritone sax, cello, flute); Milton Hamilton (piano); Lee Smith (bass); Steve Berrios (drums, percussion)

Title: Montreux Heat! | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: EMI Music


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Masters In Bordeaux CD/LP/Track Review Masters In Bordeaux
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 19, 2017
Read On Parade In Parede CD/LP/Track Review On Parade In Parede
by John Sharpe
Published: August 19, 2017
Read Good Merlin CD/LP/Track Review Good Merlin
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: August 19, 2017
Read I Believe In You CD/LP/Track Review I Believe In You
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 18, 2017
Read Morning Sun CD/LP/Track Review Morning Sun
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 18, 2017
Read The Conscience CD/LP/Track Review The Conscience
by John Sharpe
Published: August 18, 2017
Read "Out Of The Blue" CD/LP/Track Review Out Of The Blue
by Tyran Grillo
Published: November 4, 2016
Read "Cinema Spiral" CD/LP/Track Review Cinema Spiral
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 31, 2016
Read "Expedition: Duo Electro-Acoustic Improvisations" CD/LP/Track Review Expedition: Duo Electro-Acoustic Improvisations
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 15, 2017
Read "WANDERlust" CD/LP/Track Review WANDERlust
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 19, 2016
Read "All Things" CD/LP/Track Review All Things
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 26, 2016
Read "Here on Earth" CD/LP/Track Review Here on Earth
by Doug Collette
Published: May 2, 2017

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.