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Mongomania

September 22, 2011 Leave a comment

“Mongomania (mon-go-má-ni-a) [Derived principally from the Latin – to groove; from the Cuban idiom – unbelievably funky.] 1: a completely comprehensible overwhelming passion for the music made by Mongo Santamaria 2: evidence of good taste 3: passionate enough to travel great distance. <He walked all the way from Vladivostok just to dig the band, man. That dude is stone Mongomaniacal.> Also see: Soul, Funky, Down Home, Afro-Jazz, Out of Sight, Sock it to Me.” – From the liner notes of Mongomania.

Mongo Santamaria – Mongomania (Captial, 1967) – MONO

Dug this up the other day at Bagatelle for under ten bucks. I love jazz records on mono, I feel its especially great for dance records because you don’t get any weird separation between the percussion and horns, and don’t lose presence during solos – the groove often is fat and stays upfront.

This is a great, no funny business, straight-up Mongo Santamaria record as he’s moving in a hard-hitting, groove-oriented direction on this record. The boogaloo thing is creeping all over Mongomania, and it blends beautifully in a myriad of latin rhythms including bossa nova, latin jazz, and salsa. The group is a core septet which includes Hubert Laws on both flute and tenor duties, but it’s Ray Maldonado on trumpet who really impresses me on this record. His solos are fierce and funky, which isn’t a surprise to learn he went on to play as a session musician at Fania and then later joined Stevie Wonder’s band. But the whole group is very tight on this recording as I understand they were his working band. Listening to this again, I’m realizing that Victor Venegas absolutely kills it on bass duties, using an electric bass to keep the groove as funky as possible.

This is an interesting period in the career of Hubert Laws as he was locked into the soul/latin jazz groove while a part of Mongo’s group, and this style was also seen in his solo stuff for Atlantic. Hubert Laws had grown up on groove and was an early member of the Jazz Crusaders, and began his professional career working and recording with Latin groups including Mongo’s as well as an early formation of Pucho and the Latin Soul Brothers. Two years after this recording he would hook up with Creed Taylor at A&M and then eventually move on to work as a leader and session man at CTI. Much of his work at CTI would be notably influenced by classical works and took on a symphonic structure and approach. As he is more known for his 70’s work on CTI, I revel in the fact that this is early Laws cutting up on flute in a soulful way that only he and a few others can. This recording isn’t the best representation of Laws’ funky flute , but it’s strong and it’s always great to hear him in the mix, especially at this point in his career.

The big tracks are “The Goose” and “Cuco and Olga.” “Goose” is a heavy boogaloo track, energetic and aimed straight for the dancefloor. I love the great latin-gutbucket alto solo by Bobby Capers on this one, absolutely incendiary. However, it all ends once “Cuco” stars, this track is an absolute bomb! This track really lays down the groundwork for the salsa movement to come, but in the soulful, funky way that only Mongo can do it. The bass is thick, the piano literally steams up the track and this features one of the all-time great Mongo solos. Can’t wait to play this out!

Mongo Santamaria: Percussion, Hubert Laws: Flute/Tenor, Rodgers Grant: Piano, Victor Venegas: Bass, Bobby Capers: Alto/Baritone, Carmelo Garcia: Drums, Ray Maldonado: Trumpet

1. I Wanna Know

2. Mongo-nova

3. Old Clothes

4. The Goose

5. Mamacita Lisa

6. Mongo’s Boogaloo

7. Bossa-Negra

8. Funny Man

9. Melons

10. Cuco and Olga

Turn it up and LISTEN

Categories: 1967, jazz

I Can Feel the Ice Melting

February 3, 2011 1 comment

This one goes out to Eral in Connecticut!

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The Parliaments – (I Wanna) Testify/I Can Feel the Ice Melting

Before Parliament, there was The Parliaments. George Clinton is one of the most genius musicians of all time and this is where the man got his start. A beautiful little 45 to keep you warm whether it’s a cool 60 degrees and sunny or you’re shoveling snow for the first time in your life.

(I Wanna) Testify comes at you hard and fast, a little bit of Chuck Berry guitar kicks it off, but a strong horn section and some deep Hammond B3 stabs keep it in a James Brown proto-funk groove. The chorus to this song is gold, George Clinton’s voice is unbeatable.

Speaking of unbeatable voice, Clinton flips into an odd sweet soul ballad for the b-side. This tracks plays up the Motown sound a little more, with that summery vibraphone opening hitting it like a Four Tops jam. This song is my jam, and as you can tell by the wear on the rip, whoever owned this before me really enjoyed it.

Link in the comments!

Categories: 1967, soul, US