Mongo Santamaria – I Can’t Get Next To You


I Can't Get Next To You 45

Mongo Santamaria – I Can’t Get Next To You from the Atlantic 45

Here we are at Friday again folks. I trust Judy Clay showed you an example of how Southern Soul does it from a female perspective (if you didn’t know already). If she didn’t do it for you, I have plenty more for you in future posts. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this weekend will be rain free, because I have an itch that needs to be scratched, that even a Rufus Thomas record couldn’t cure…ok maybe it could. A rare groove HEAVYWEIGHT has thrown his hat into the blog ring this week, and I urge you all to go pay a visit. You will most definitely learn something from one half on the “Kings of Diggin'” (as they are sometime called), but better yet, their new project Off Track should keep you wondering where these audio treats are coming from. I’m speaking none other than Kon, from the duo Kon and Amir. These guys have been an inspiration over the years, and it’s good to see them spreading some of their record love over the intra-webs. These guys are pure class, and know what they are talking about. So listen up! I started off the week with a Latin Funk/ Jazz Cover, and I’m gonna end the week with another one, Mister Ramon “Mongo” Santamaria with “I Can’t Get Next To You” on Atlantic Records. I’ve been into Mongo for a while, I was introduced to him about 10 or so years ago. I used to DJ alongside a Funk band called Brown, and the two cousin percussionists got me into him. I never pass up some Mongo, and Funky 16 Corners did a great post about him here , with his cover of “Lady Marmalade”, which I narrowly missed digging up recently. DJ Prime got it before me, but that’s ok, there’s always more Funk and Soul records out there. I don’t mind losing records to my friends, it’s the guys who I don’t know, that started infiltrating my spot, that I do mind. If I don’t give up my digging spots, forgive me, I’m not being rude, but I just want to continue to be able to dig for records in peace. Nahmean? It’s taken me almost 20 years to uncover a lot of these gems, and well, I wouldn’t have the great flea market stories to share if I didn’t keep some of my spots under my hat. That being said, let’s get to Mongo, shall we?

Born in Havana, Cuba in 1922, this legendary percussionist paid his dues at the Tropicana Club, before making the trek to New York City in 1950. Starting off with Perez Prado, he cut his teeth in the greatest music city in the world. His skills as a conguero grew to be well respected amongst his peers, and soon he played sideman to the legends like Tito Puente, and one of my favorite Latin Jazz cats, vibraphonist Cal Tjadar. Santamaria caught the public’s ear in 1963, with a cover of Herbie Hancock’s “Watermelon Man”, which for it’s time was pretty damn good. (also rumored to be out of a jam session with Hancock showing the band his new song, then so good, Santamaria got whisked away to the studio to get it down) Considering it was early in the Funk and Soul game, Mongo layed down the foundation of what was to come in the next 10 years or so from him musically. Recording sides for Fantasy, Battle, Vaya, Riverside, CBS, Buddah, Concord Picante, and even some live stuff on Pablo, his long career has made him one of the most well known Cuban musicians in the world. His ability to fuse Latin Jazz with Funk, Afro-Soul, Rock, R & B, and even straight ahead Jazz, made him not only a great musician, but a premier band leader as well. His ability to transform the popular music of the time into Latin flavored goodness was a contributing factor to his career long success. He continued to perform and record up until his death following a stroke in 2003 in Miami, FL.

This cover of The Temptation’s 1969 smash hit “I Can’t Get Next To You” is some funky Latin Soul here kids. Starting off h-e-a-v-y on the drums and percussion (would you expect anything else?), the horn section wastes no time in belting out the lyrics, and we’re on our way. It’s all upbeat Latin Funk from here, finally coming to a crashing halt, only for a second, and then the drum break (or should I say percussion break?), which builds a bit and then goes out in a blaze of Latin Jazz Funk history. Of course this is on Atlantic, who I never have doubted to be one of, if not the greatest record label of all time. It’s from the full length “Feelin’ Alright”, and is one of the more successful commercial Mongo records. For some reason, I am drawn to every Mongo Santamaria record I see. From straight ahead Latin Jazz, to his Funk, Afro-Soul and the like, I can’t really get enough of the man, and I urge you to get into him as well. I haven’t had a hard time finding his stuff in the field, although I’m not actively seeking it, some side of his always turns up, and not really for a lot of dough either. Last week’s find of “Stone Soul” is a definite keeper. Tomorrow is digging day (actually I’m headed out with my neice and nephews on Sunday as well), so of course I will give you the weekend digging report. For all of you in the Asbury Park area tonight, Friday the 20th of July, there is a James Brown Documentary at 7 PM being played at the Baronet Theater entitled: Get on the Good Foot: James Brown: The Man, The Music, The Message. It’s part of the 33rd Newark Black Film Festival, and promises to be a good one. I will be there for sure. Keep Diggin’!

10 responses to “Mongo Santamaria – I Can’t Get Next To You

  1. I saw a Willie Bobo concert on the jazz channel on TV once, it was super cool. It had a similar late 70s latin jazz funk band sound.

    There is some cool horns on this song and a pretty heavy groove.

  2. mongo also does a killer cover of another temps song “cloud nine” that is pure conga fury.

  3. Yeah it’s hard to go wrong with funky latin jazz. Have you ever heard the track “Serenade to a Savage” by Candido?

  4. I just picked up “Stone Soul” last week which has “Cloud Nine” on it. The record is great. Thanks for the tip on “Serenade to a Savage” by Candido, i need to check that out for sure.

  5. Almost all the Atlantic 45s by Mongo are top notch. I can only think of one that I have seen and not bought. But this tune, Windjammer, Heighty-Hi, Hippo Walk are all fantastic.

  6. If I am not mistaken this track is also on the incomparable ‘What It Is: Funky Soul and Rare Grooves’ box set (which comes highly recommended, ‘natch). Nice post, Pres.

    This is just one of those tracks that you could put on any comp/play list and it works – it’s that smokin’.

  7. yeah, i did for get to mention it was on that compilation. i was so eager to get the post out i forgot. that box set (while definitely atlantic and atlantic related heavy), is most definitely top notch. i do agree with you polk as well, it works, period. I was excited to pick up the stone soul as well. we’ll see what saturday brings, maybe more mongo?

  8. Pingback: Mongo Santamaria - Sofrito « Flea Market Funk·

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