Late percussionist Mongo Santamaria expanded and elaborated on the Afro-Cuban hand-drum made famous by Chano Pozo. For six decades he was the conguero supreme, reintroducing the ancestral African anthems silenced by Anglo slavemasters. Those ancestral anthems are heard on this fiery 1980 live date from the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. Santamaria lays down all of the dancing dimensions of the Afro-Cuban clave, with an in-the-pocket combo co-powered by drummer Steve Berrios. The folkloric program features several Santamaria standards, including "Para Ti," "Sofrito," and "Cóme Candela." The Belgian guitarist/harmonica virtuoso Toots Thielemans and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie (who featured the percussionist in his Cubop big band in the '50s) put their timeless tones on a grooving take of "Watermelon Man." With his carefully constructed cross-rhythms, Mongo Santamaria made grooves that stretched from Havana to Harlem. --Eugene Holley, Jr.
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