Presenting José Rizo’s Mongorama

Radio host, producer, composer and bandleader José Rizo and Mongorama

José Rizo’s Mongorama picks up where the Jazz on the Latin Side All Stars left off. After a decade of fruitful existence, performing and recording four terrific CDs (Jazz on the Latin Side All Stars 1 and 2, The Last Bullfighter and Tambolero), the veteran KJazz radio host, producer, composer and bandleader José Rizo takes a new direction and moves on to a new project, which is actually a continuation of the original Latin jazz all stars band concept, but now focused on a specific period of the creative evolvement of Cuban Master Conguero, Mongo Santamaría.

Mongorama is no ordinary band. Its self-mandate of paying tribute to the charanga/jazz musical period extensively explored by Mongo Santamaría and his bandmates, saxophonist Chombo Silva and flautist Rolando Lozano, involves revitalizing Mongo’s music and the charanga tradition he helped to develop in his moment. Rizo, as producer and bandleader and musical director Danilo Lozano incorporate new arrangements and orchestrations, modern variations of the themes without losing the essence of the rhythm and the infectious danceability of the music. The hip, jazzy feel exudes throughout the vocal and instrumental deliveries on this recording. Engaging and enjoyable at the same time, Mongorama equally pleases the listeners (jazz and Latin music fans) and the dancers. Great job accomplished by pianist Oscar Hernández with his arrangements, and Francisco Torres as well.

Featured Album *****

This is an album recorded live-in-studio over a two-days fantastic musical journey. That means the music on this CD has that fresh, spontaneous and improvisational elements inherent to Jazz and Afro-Cuban descargas. This approach works perfectly well for these seasoned, highly-trained cats who proudly follow on the steps of Maestro Mongo Santamaría.

A nine-piece members ensemble, Mongorama brings to the stage great musicianship and sophisticated interpretations. It introduces a magnificent sound to a new generation of listeners who will surely be interested in finding out more about the music of Mongo Santamaría and his La Sabrosa charanga ensemble during the sixties and seventies.

Mongorama recreates previously recorded material by Santamaría: “Bacoso” (one of Mongo’s signature tunes featuring Hubert Laws on a superb solo flute, Dayren Santamaría on violin and Joey De León on congas); “Las Guajiras” (an overcharged electric guajira reminiscent of the hypnotic Cachao’s descargas, featuring Poncho Sánchez on congas, Danilo Lozano on flute and Adonis Puentes on vocals); “Bluchanga” (a popular Latin jazz composition by Mongo’s pianist Joao Donato, featuring Justo Almario on tenor sax, Oscar Hernández on piano and Joey De León on congas); “Palo Mayombe” (a composition by Mongo’s singer, the late Rudy Calzado, featuring Justo Almario on tenor sax and Adonis Puentes on vocals); “Siempre en Tí” (an arousing bolero by master flautist Rolando Lozano, featuring Hubert Laws on flute, Justo Almario on tenor sax and Adonis Puentes on vocals); “Que Maravilloso” (another composition by Rudy Calzado, featuring Oscar Hernández on piano, Ramón Banda on timbales and Adonis Puentes on vocals); “Cruzan” (a beautiful, serene composition by former Santamaría’s pianist Armen Donelian, features Oscar Hernández on piano and Justo Almario on tenor sax) and “Guajira at the Blackhawk” (one of Mongo’s earliest pieces dedicated to the legendary San Francisco club, features Danilo Lozano on flute, Poncho Sánchez on congas, Justo Almario on tenor sax and Adonis Puentes on vocals). José Rizo contributes two of his own compositions: “Así es la Vida” (where Adonis Puentes shines on vocals, Poncho Sanchez is featured on congas and Danilo Lozano on flute) and “Bubba Boogaloo”, a joyful theme that gets a special treatment on the soulful voice of the gracious Destani Wolf. Both tracks are masterfully arranged and co-composed by Francisco Torres. “No Molestes Más”, found its way in through an early Ray Barreto‘s recording. This swinging tune is a true delicacy for the dancers, making your feet move at the first notes. The album closes with “Tin Marín”, a traditional tune inspired by the Cachao Cuban Jam Sessions in Miniature legendary recordings (featuring René Camacho on bass, Freddie Crespo on vocals, Ramón Banda on timbales and Danilo Lozano on flute).

Kudos to Rizo for an impecable, very professional presentation. Avid readers and serious listeners are always looking for liner notes that are at the same time informative and educational. That’s exactly the case with this album.

Track listing: 1. Bacoso; 2. Asi Es La Vida; 3. Las Guajiras; 4. Bluchanga; 5. No Molestes Mas; 6. Bubba Boogaloo; 7. Palo Mayombe; 8. Siempre En Ti; 9. Que Maravilloso; 10. Cruzan; 11. Guajira At the Blackhawk; 12. Tin Marin.

Personnel: Alfredo Ortiz (vocals, guiro); Adonis Puentes, Freddie Crespo, Destani Wolf (vocals); Dayren Santamaría (violin); Danilo Lozano, Hubert Laws (flute); Justo Almario (tenor saxophone); Alberto Salas, Oscar Hernández (piano); Joey de León, Poncho Sánchez (congas); Ramón Banda (timbales).

Released – 2011
Label – Saungu Recordings
Runtime – 1:00:10

Danilo Navas
Founder, Editor, Webmaster: Latin Jazz Network, World Music Report, Toronto Music Report. A passionate and committed communicator with a sensibility for the arts based in Toronto, Canada.

More from author

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related posts

Promotionspot_img
Promotionspot_img

Featured Posts

Omara Portuondo, Multifaceted Gem of Cuban Music

My moon app announces that in 14 hours the Supermoon of May will be here. During a full moon I often get inspired to...

Ray Barretto · Barretto Power

Barretto Power: A Celebratory Reissue on its 50th Anniversary It was 1970 when Fania Records released Barretto Power, one of a series of seminal albums...

El Gran Fellové: Part 3- When my Parents…

When my parents bought their home in 1968, Sunset Beach was just another sleepy little beach town It spanned about one mile in length, sandwiched...

El Gran Fellové: Part 2- Enter Chocolate & Celio González

Early Sunday morning… I awoke to the pleasant surprise of a Google Alert in my email. I clicked to find Variety Magazine had published an...

El Gran Fellové: Part 1- The Beginning

Francisco Fellové Valdés (October 7, 1923 – February 15, 2013), also known as El Gran Fellové (The Great Fellove), was a Cuban songwriter and...

Bobby Paunetto, New York City and The Synthesis of Music

Bobby Paunetto was an unforgettable composer, arranger, musician and recording artist. Latin Jazz Network honors him on the tenth anniversary of his death (8.10.10). His...

Jazz Plaza 2020: Ancient to the Future

Chapter four of our series: 35th Jazz Plaza International Festival in Havana In recent months I found myself in profound reflection of the term...

Ray Martinez and the Forgotten Legacy of Jazz

Sometime in the very near future, several of the jazz world's best known writers and musicologists will meet in some obscure conclave to pool...

A Brief History of the Cuban Style Conjunto

1930: The Orquesta Típica is out and the Conjunto is in The year 1930 marked a turning point in the development of popular Cuban music....

Jazz Plaza 2020: Speaking in Tongues

Chapter three of our series: 35th Jazz Plaza International Festival in Havana Featured photo: Los Muñequitos de Matanzas at El Tablao in Havana, by Danilo...

Join our mailing list

Participate in contests, giveaways and more