Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Live at Jazz Alley
Genres: World Music, Jazz, Latin Music
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Mongo LIVE! 5- Stars!
Tim Withee | Los Angeles, CA | 03/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In the late 80s and early 90s, Jazz Alley was an annual stop for Mongo Santamaria and his band. Their appearance was an event that I wouldn't miss and it never disappointed. Someone at Concord Jazz, Mongo's label at the time, had the really bright idea of recording them live at that venue in March 1990 and I was one of the lucky patrons of the club on those dates.
The band itself is an all-star lineup, including such luminaries as Ray Vega, Marty Sheller, Bobby Porcelli, Bob Quaranta, Johnny Almendra, Mitch Frohman, Eddie Rodriguez and Bernie Minoso.
The sets included such classics as Manteca and an awesome version of Afro Blue. There really isn't a weak tune in the set , but my personal favorites are the opener, "Home," "Ponce,", "Bonita," "Ibiano," and "Philadelphia" -- along with, of course, "Manteca" and "Afro Blue." The set is rounded out by the tunes, "Para Ti," "Come Candela," and "Juan Jose."
Vega on trumpet and flugelhorn and Porcelli on alto and bari saxes and flute, really stood out on this date. Their playing is tight, intense and powerful. The other horn player, Mitch Frohman does an outstanding job as well. Bob Quaranta's piano work is lyrical and flawless, setting the mood for the tunes. And as always, Mongo: almost never without a warm smile, playing brilliantly, sitting front and center leading the rhythm section (the backbone of the band); more than ably assisted by Almendra, Rodriguez and Minoso on bass.
Many live albums aren't quite up to par with a band's studio work, but this side is very well done, from the standpoint of outstanding musicianship and being well-engineered. The electricity created by the interplay of the band and crowd comes out well on the record, giving the listener a good idea of what it was like to have been in the audience.
If you're already a fan of Mongo Santamaria and don't have this side, I recommend adding it to your collection. If you aren't, but interested in Latin Jazz and want to check out a great musician and his band on a live date, don't hesitate to check this out. You won't be disappointed.
For a longtime fan who was fortunate enough to have "been there" for the date, it's always enjoyable to go back there again and again, to always be able to hear this great band BLOW.