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Up From The Roots

Mongo Santamaria

27 October 2003

Cuban percussionist Mongo Santamaria arrived in New York in 1948 and, having played in the orchestras of Perez Prado, Tito Puente, George Shearing, Rene Bloch and Cal Tjader, became leader of his own band in 1959.  After recording seven albums for the West Coast Fantasy label, he scored a nationwide hit with ‘Watermelon Man’ on Riverside.  He spent the latter half of the 1960s with Columbia Records, recording mostly covers of pop hits, before moving to the Atlantic label in 1970.  The superb Up from The Roots marks Mongo’s move from Top 40 covers and boogaloos to Cuban music.