Mongo Santamaria | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Mongo Santamaria


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


Those already familiar with the music of percussionist Mongo Santamaria won't need much prompting to hear him this weekend: mere mention of his infectious Afro-Cuban jazz and roots music acts like a magnet for the previously indoctrinated. Among the uninitiated, the jazz fans can think of him as not only a splendid conga drummer but also a salsa version of Art Blakey: like Blakey, Santamaria's bands have served as proving grounds for to-be-famous jazz players such as Chick Corea, Hubert Laws, and saxist Justo Almario. The less savvy may recognize his name only from the passing reference in Mel Brooks's Blazing Saddles--when the brute named Mongo punches out a horse, a Mexican bystander cries, "It's Mongo! Santa Maria!"--but even that's a good enough reason to catch a bona fide legend helming an irresistible band. Tonight through Sunday, Joe Segal's Jazz Showcase, Blackstone Hotel, 636 S. Michigan; 427-4300.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  →