Editors’ Notes Conversational conga player Mongo Santamaria never lost the thread connecting Cuban music to West Africa, and he eventually extended it to jazz, funk, and R&B. Santamaria released the percussion-saturated Fantasy LP Yambú in 1958, which showcased his command over the high-pitched quinto conga drum, and he composed the noble jazz standard "Afro Blue" a year later. His 1963 hit single "Watermelon Man," written by Herbie Hancock, kicked off a long streak of Latin-soul albums, and the live 1971 track "Climax" captures Santamaria at his fiery jazz-funk apex.

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