Weaving elements of R&B, rock, and jazz together, Cuban percussionist Mongo Santamaria brought Cuban rhythms to more listeners than perhaps any other "conguero." On these selections, Santamaria applies Latin music style to contemporary songs of the 1960's such as Cream's "The Sunshine of Your Love," The Miracles' "The Tracks of My Tears," and Iron Butterfly's "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida."
Recorded at Wally Heider's Studio, Los Angeles, California. Originally released on Atlantic (8252).
Personnel: Mongo Santamaria (congas, percussion).
Liner Note Author: Ralph J. Gleason.
Recording information: Wally Heider's Studio 3, Los Angeles, CA.
Arranger: Marty Sheller.
While it fits in with the glut of Top 40 boogaloo efforts that record companies pressured jazz artists to record in the late '60s and early '70s, Mongo Santamaria's Feelin' Alright does offer a more than decent program of covers ranging from Motown to "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida." Santamaria and band spike the even-keeled, groove-heavy parade of horns, Latin percussion, and rolling basslines with tasty trumpet and saxophone solos and manage to recast most of these rock and soul hits as engaging and infectious Latin-a-go-go jams. Like Willie Bobo, Santamaria does a fine job of straddling the fence between soulful interpretation and limp mood music. And though attempts at reforming rock material like Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love" fall a bit short, jazz-friendly tracks like "On Broadway" come out sounding worthy of Santamaria's talent. The band's lively rendition of the title track and sophisticated takes on the Sam & Dave hit "Hold On, I'm Coming" and Jimmy Webb's perennial "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" further maintain the high standard. Although a fun record to listen to, Feelin' Alright should be passed over by newcomers for more viable first-disc choices like Fantasy's Mongo's Greatest Hits and Rhino's Skin to Skin anthology. ~ Stephen Cook