Mongo Santamaria | KNKX

Mongo Santamaria

Photo by Luz Mendoza on Unsplash

For Jazz Appreciation Month, Robin Lloyd focuses on three influential Latin Jazz musicians and composers who shaped their creative talents to lead others in new directions as bandleaders.

Mongo Santamaria plays the conga drums at the Super Jazz Concert at the Apollo Theater in New York on Saturday, Dec. 10, 1988.
William I. Ballinger / The Associated Press

April is Jazz Appreciation Month, and we'll join the festivities on Jazz Caliente this Saturday by celebrating some Latin jazz artists' birthdays.

Mongo Santamaría plays the conga drums at the Super Jazz Concert at the Apollo Theater in New York, 1988.
William I. Ballinger / AP

Ramón "Mongo" Santamaría Rodríguez is probably the most recognized of the Cuban-born conga drum players associated with American jazz and R&B.  To many, Mongo represented the pinnacle of Afro-Cuban percussion.