Mongo Santamaría

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Mongo Santamaría_table_infobox_0

Mongo SantamaríaMongo Santamaría_header_cell_0_0_0
Background informationMongo Santamaría_header_cell_0_1_0
Birth nameMongo Santamaría_header_cell_0_2_0 Ramón Santamaría RodríguezMongo Santamaría_cell_0_2_1
BornMongo Santamaría_header_cell_0_3_0 (1917-04-07)April 7, 1917

Havana, CubaMongo Santamaría_cell_0_3_1

DiedMongo Santamaría_header_cell_0_4_0 February 1, 2003(2003-02-01) (aged 85)

Miami, Florida, U.S.Mongo Santamaría_cell_0_4_1

GenresMongo Santamaría_header_cell_0_5_0 Pachanga, boogaloo, salsa, Latin jazzMongo Santamaría_cell_0_5_1
Occupation(s)Mongo Santamaría_header_cell_0_6_0 Musician, bandleader, songwriterMongo Santamaría_cell_0_6_1
InstrumentsMongo Santamaría_header_cell_0_7_0 Congas, bongosMongo Santamaría_cell_0_7_1
Years activeMongo Santamaría_header_cell_0_8_0 1950–1998Mongo Santamaría_cell_0_8_1
LabelsMongo Santamaría_header_cell_0_9_0 Fantasy, Riverside, Columbia, Vaya, Concord PicanteMongo Santamaría_cell_0_9_1
Associated actsMongo Santamaría_header_cell_0_10_0 Tito Puente, Cal Tjader, Fania All-StarsMongo Santamaría_cell_0_10_1

Ramón "Mongo" Santamaría Rodríguez (April 7, 1917 – February 1, 2003) was a Cuban percussionist and bandleader who spent most of his career in the United States. Mongo Santamaría_sentence_0

Primarily a conga drummer, Santamaría was a leading figure in the pachanga and boogaloo dance crazes of the 1960s. Mongo Santamaría_sentence_1

His biggest hit was his rendition of Herbie Hancock's "Watermelon Man", which was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998. Mongo Santamaría_sentence_2

From the 1970s, he recorded mainly salsa and Latin jazz, before retiring in the late 1990s. Mongo Santamaría_sentence_3

Mongo learned to play the congas as an amateur rumba musician in the streets of Havana. Mongo Santamaría_sentence_4

He then learned the bongos from Clemente "Chicho" Piquero and toured with various successful bands such as the Lecuona Cuban Boys and Sonora Matancera. Mongo Santamaría_sentence_5

In 1950, he moved to New York City, where he became Tito Puente's conguero and in 1957 he joined Cal Tjader's band. Mongo Santamaría_sentence_6

He then formed his own charanga, while at the same time recording some of the first rumba and Santería music albums. Mongo Santamaría_sentence_7

By the end of the decade, he had his first pachanga hit, "Para ti". Mongo Santamaría_sentence_8

He then became a pioneer of boogaloo with "Watermelon Man" and later signed record deals with Columbia, Atlantic and Fania. Mongo Santamaría_sentence_9

He collaborated with salsa artists and became a member of the Fania All-Stars, often showcasing his conga solos against Ray Barretto. Mongo Santamaría_sentence_10

In his later years, Santamaría recorded mostly Latin jazz for Concord Jazz and Chesky Records. Mongo Santamaría_sentence_11

Biography Mongo Santamaría_section_0

Master rumbero Mongo Santamaría_section_1

Santamaría learned rumba as a kid in the streets of Havana's Jesús María neighborhood. Mongo Santamaría_sentence_12

He reminisced: "In the neighborhood where I came from we had all kinds of music, mostly from Africa. Mongo Santamaría_sentence_13

We did not leave it alone; we changed it our way. Mongo Santamaría_sentence_14

The music we made dealt with religion and conversation. Mongo Santamaría_sentence_15

The drum was our tool and we used it for everything" (1979: 19). Mongo Santamaría_sentence_16

Gerard points out: "Santamaría, like other drummers of his generation, learned music in the streets by observing different drummers. Mongo Santamaría_sentence_17

When he started playing professionally, he learned on the job. Mongo Santamaría_sentence_18

His approach was utilitarian, not theoretical" (2001: 29). Mongo Santamaría_sentence_19

Santamaría was mentored on bongos and congas by Clemente "Chicho" Piquero, who played in Beny Moré's band. Mongo Santamaría_sentence_20

He recalled: "I would go with Chicho and play the tumbadora and also the [quinto]. Mongo Santamaría_sentence_21

I would play everything because I learned a lot from Chicho—because he could play everything" (2001: 137). Mongo Santamaría_sentence_22

Santamaría recorded some of the very first recorded folkloric rumbas. Mongo Santamaría_sentence_23

Because he recorded for mainstream jazz labels, his folkloric records were consistently available to the public. Mongo Santamaría_sentence_24

Santamaría's albums tended to list the personnel and their instruments; so record buyers came to know other Cuban rumberos, such as Armando Peraza, Francisco Aguabella, Julito Collazo, Carlos Vidal Bolado, Modesto Duran and Pablo Mozo. Mongo Santamaría_sentence_25

The 10 inch 33 1/3 rpm phonorecord Afro-Cuban Drums by Santamaría was recorded in SMC's New York City studios on November 3, 1952. Mongo Santamaría_sentence_26

Santamaría's next recordings with folkloric rumba were on Changó (re-issued as Drums and Chants) recorded in New York (1954). Mongo Santamaría_sentence_27

Yambú (1958), Mongo (1959), and Bembé (1960) followed. Mongo Santamaría_sentence_28

Santamaría did not analyze his personal style: "When I play I don't know how I do it, or what I do ... Mongo Santamaría_sentence_29

I just play" (2001: 29). Mongo Santamaría_sentence_30

The following example is an excerpt from a quinto performance by Santamaría on his composition "Mi guaguancó" (1959). Mongo Santamaría_sentence_31

The excerpt shows variations on two main motifs, marked as A and B. Santamaría's repetition of what is typically a secondary phrase (B), makes it the primary motif here. Mongo Santamaría_sentence_32

Drummer, band leader, innovator Mongo Santamaría_section_2

Santamaría began playing bongos with Septeto Beloña in 1937. Mongo Santamaría_sentence_33

In the 1940s he worked in the house band of the prestigious Tropicana nightclub. Mongo Santamaría_sentence_34

When Chicho could not join a tour in Mexico in the late 1940s, he recommended Santamaría for the job. Mongo Santamaría_sentence_35

Mexico opened Santamaría up to the wider world beyond his island home. Mongo Santamaría_sentence_36

After returning from Mexico in 1950, Santamaría moved to New York City, where he became Tito Puente's conga player. Mongo Santamaría_sentence_37

In 1957 Mongo Santamaría joined Cal Tjader's Latin jazz combo. Mongo Santamaría_sentence_38

In 1959 Santamaría recorded "Afro Blue," the first jazz standard built upon a typical African 3:2 cross-rhythm, or hemiola. Mongo Santamaría_sentence_39

The song begins with the bass repeatedly playing 6 cross-beats per each measure of 12/8, or 6 cross-beats per 4 main beats—6:4 (two cells of 3:2). Mongo Santamaría_sentence_40

The following example shows the original ostinato "Afro Blue" bass line. Mongo Santamaría_sentence_41

The slashed noteheads indicate the main beats (not bass notes), where you would normally tap your foot to "keep time." Mongo Santamaría_sentence_42

In 1960 Santamaría went to Havana, Cuba with Willie Bobo to record two albums "Mongo In Havana" and "Bembe y Nuestro Hombre En La Habana." Mongo Santamaría_sentence_43

After recording, he returned to New York City to form the charanga orquestra La Sabrosa. Mongo Santamaría_sentence_44

In late 1962 Chick Corea had given notice and Santamaría needed a pianist to fill in for the upcoming weekend gigs. Mongo Santamaría_sentence_45

Herbie Hancock got the temporary job. Mongo Santamaría_sentence_46

Hancock recalls what happened the night that Santamaría discovered "Watermelon Man", the only tune of Santamaría's to reach the top of the pop charts: Mongo Santamaría_sentence_47

The sudden success of the song (which Mongo Santamaria recorded on December 17, 1962) propelled Santamaría into his niche of blending Afro-Cuban and African American music. Mongo Santamaría_sentence_48

Santamaría went on to record Cuban-flavored versions of popular R&B and Motown songs. Mongo Santamaría_sentence_49

Death Mongo Santamaría_section_3

On February 1, 2003 Santamaria died in Miami, Florida, after suffering a stroke, at the age of 85. Mongo Santamaría_sentence_50

He is buried in Woodlawn Park Cemetery and Mausoleum (now Caballero Rivero Woodlawn Park North Cemetery and Mausoleum) in Miami, Florida. Mongo Santamaría_sentence_51

Discography Mongo Santamaría_section_4

As leader Mongo Santamaría_section_5

Mongo Santamaría_unordered_list_0

  • Afro-Cuban Drums (SMC Pro-Arte, 1952)Mongo Santamaría_item_0_0
  • Drums and Chants (Changó) (Vaya, 1954)Mongo Santamaría_item_0_1
  • Tambores y Cantos (1955)Mongo Santamaría_item_0_2
  • Yambu: Mongo Santamaria y Sus Ritmos Afro Cubano (1958)Mongo Santamaría_item_0_3
  • Mongo (Fantasy, 1959)Mongo Santamaría_item_0_4
  • Afro Roots (Yambu and Mongo) (Prestige, 1958, 1959)Mongo Santamaría_item_0_5
  • Our Man in Havana (1960)Mongo Santamaría_item_0_6
  • Mongo en la Habana (Mongo in Havana) (1960) with Carlos Embale and Merceditas ValdésMongo Santamaría_item_0_7
  • Sabroso! (1960)Mongo Santamaría_item_0_8
  • !Arriba! La Pachanga (1961)Mongo Santamaría_item_0_9
  • Go, Mongo! (1962)Mongo Santamaría_item_0_10
  • Watermelon Man! (Battle, 1963)Mongo Santamaría_item_0_11
  • Mongo at the Village Gate (Riverside, 1963)Mongo Santamaría_item_0_12
  • El Bravo! (1964)Mongo Santamaría_item_0_13
  • Pussy Cat (1965)Mongo Santamaría_item_0_14
  • La Bamba (1965)Mongo Santamaría_item_0_15
  • Hey! Let's Party (1967)Mongo Santamaría_item_0_16
  • Mongo Mania (1967)Mongo Santamaría_item_0_17
  • Soul Bag (1968)Mongo Santamaría_item_0_18
  • Stone Soul (1969)Mongo Santamaría_item_0_19
  • Afro-American Latin (1969 [rel. 2000])Mongo Santamaría_item_0_20
  • Feelin' Alright (1970)Mongo Santamaría_item_0_21
  • Mongo '70 (1970)Mongo Santamaría_item_0_22
  • Mongo's Way (1971)Mongo Santamaría_item_0_23
  • Up from the Roots (1972)Mongo Santamaría_item_0_24
  • Fuego (1972)Mongo Santamaría_item_0_25
  • Ubané (1974) with Justo Betancourt on vocalsMongo Santamaría_item_0_26
  • Afro-Indio (1975)Mongo Santamaría_item_0_27
  • Sofrito (1976)Mongo Santamaría_item_0_28
  • Amanecer (1977)Mongo Santamaría_item_0_29
  • A la Carte (1978)Mongo Santamaría_item_0_30
  • Red Hot (1979)Mongo Santamaría_item_0_31
  • You Better Believe It (1979)Mongo Santamaría_item_0_32
  • Images (1980)Mongo Santamaría_item_0_33
  • Summertime (1981)Mongo Santamaría_item_0_34
  • Soy Yo (1987)Mongo Santamaría_item_0_35
  • Mambo Mongo (Chesky, 1993)Mongo Santamaría_item_0_36
  • Mongo Returns (Milestone, 1995)Mongo Santamaría_item_0_37
  • Conga Blue (1995)Mongo Santamaría_item_0_38
  • Come on Home (1997)Mongo Santamaría_item_0_39
  • Mongo Santamaría (1998)Mongo Santamaría_item_0_40

As sideman Mongo Santamaría_section_6

With Fania All-Stars Mongo Santamaría_sentence_52

Mongo Santamaría_unordered_list_1

  • 1968 Live at the Red Garter, Vol. 2Mongo Santamaría_item_1_41
  • 1974 Latin-Soul-RockMongo Santamaría_item_1_42
  • 1975 Live at Yankee Stadium, Vol. 1Mongo Santamaría_item_1_43
  • 1976 Live at Yankee Stadium, Vol. 2Mongo Santamaría_item_1_44
  • 1976 SalsaMongo Santamaría_item_1_45
  • 1977 Rhythm MachineMongo Santamaría_item_1_46
  • 1986 Live in Japan 1976Mongo Santamaría_item_1_47
  • 1987 Perfect BlendMongo Santamaría_item_1_48

With Tito Puente Mongo Santamaría_sentence_53

Mongo Santamaría_unordered_list_2

  • 1956 Cuban CarnivalMongo Santamaría_item_2_49
  • 1956 Puente Goes JazzMongo Santamaría_item_2_50
  • 1956 Puente in PercussionMongo Santamaría_item_2_51
  • 1957 Let's Cha Cha with PuenteMongo Santamaría_item_2_52
  • 1957 Night BeatMongo Santamaría_item_2_53
  • 1957 TopMongo Santamaría_item_2_54
  • 1959 Mucho Cha-ChaMongo Santamaría_item_2_55
  • 1964 Mucho PuenteMongo Santamaría_item_2_56
  • 1992 Live at the Village GateMongo Santamaría_item_2_57
  • 1994 El TimbralMongo Santamaría_item_2_58

With Cal Tjader Mongo Santamaría_sentence_54

Mongo Santamaría_unordered_list_3

  • 1958 Cal Tjader's Latin ConcertMongo Santamaría_item_3_59
  • 1959 A Night at the Black HawkMongo Santamaría_item_3_60
  • 1959 Concert by the Sea, Vols. 1 & 2Mongo Santamaría_item_3_61
  • 1959 Monterey ConcertsMongo Santamaría_item_3_62
  • 1962 Latino con Cal TjaderMongo Santamaría_item_3_63
  • 1973 Los Ritmos CalientesMongo Santamaría_item_3_64
  • 1993 Black OrchidMongo Santamaría_item_3_65

With others Mongo Santamaría_sentence_55

Mongo Santamaría_unordered_list_4

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: Santamaría.