A nice Prestige 2-fer collecting two early sides Mongo cut for Fantasy in the late 50s. The first, released under the title Mongo, is a no-nonsense batch of Latin jazz tracks, arranged by himself and Francisco Aguabella, who's sort of the co-leader of the group on the set! Players include Emil Richards, Paul Horn, Armando Pereza, Carlos Vidal, and Willie Bobo – and as you can imagine by that lineup, there's plenty of heavy duty percussive action! Jose Chombo Silva plays a bit of tenor – and titles include "Chano Pozo", "Mazacote", "Los Conguitos", and "Afro Blue". Yambu, another of Mongo's great early records, is the second LP of the set. It's got a spooky Afro-Cuban sound, and a great assortment of drummers that includes Francisco Aquabella, Carlos Vidal, Willie Bobo, and Modesto Duran. The overall vibe is much more traditional than Mongo's other albums – and there's none of the pop Latin jazz of his years at Columbia records, or his "Watermelon Man" era at Riverside
. Cuts include "Mi Guanguanco", "Timbales & Bongo", "Yeye", and "Columbia", and the sound is nice and raw.