Mongo Santamaria long ago joined the pantheon of Latin-jazz greats. If he had done nothing else but introduce the world to a young composer named Herbie Hancock, whose "Watermelon Man," as recorded by Santamaria, made for a most unlikely Top Ten pop hit in 1963, or write "Afro Blue," which has been covered by scores of leading jazz players (including, most memorably, John Coltrane), Santamaria's place would be secure. But Havana-born Santamaria (1922/2003) led a succession of outstanding Latin-jazz bands. This collection, from 1962-63, includes both "Watermelon Man" and "Afro Blue"–the latter just one of six superb, previously unissued tracks recorded live at San Francisco's legendary Black Hawk. Of additional interest is the original version of "Yeh-Yeh" which, with Jon Hendricks's lyrics subsequently added, became an international pop hit in 1964-65 for the British Invasion group Georgie Fame & the Blue Flames.
with Willie Bobo, Rudy Calzado, Bobby Capers, Joseph Gorgas, Rodgers Grant, Frank Hernandez, Rene "El Latigo" Hernandez, Kako, Felix "Pupi" Legarreta, Roland Lozano, Ray Lucas, La Lupe, Kalil Madi, Chihuahua Martinez, Cuco Martinez, Pat Patrick, Marty Sheller, Jose "Chombo" Silva, Mauricio Smith, Victor Venegas