Afro Blue - Robert Glasper

from the album Black Radio (2012)

I have an odd fantasy of being a great conga drum player, like Mongo Santamaria.  For me, he is the only "conguero" that matters. Listen to his classic albums, like Watermelon Man, and you will understand.

Mongo was immortalized in the movie Blazing Saddles.  In the scene where the bad guys - including Alex Karras as "Mongo" - ransack Rock Ridge, a fleeing Hispanic exclaims "Mongo, Santa Maria." ...  I am usually the only person in the room who laughs.

Mongo was also a gifted songwriter.  His song Afro Blue has become a jazz standard.  Aside from his own version, the rendition by John Coltrane on the album Live at Birdland (1963) is amongst my favorite jazz recordings of all time.

Afro Blue is one of many songs I dig on Robert Glasper's new album, Black Radio.  This album takes the experimental jazz stylings that Robert Glasper is best known for, and adds a sophisticated, urban vibe.  The songs, musicianship, and production are all stellar.

I also dig the vocal by Erykah Badu.  I have been following her since I first heard Tyrone back in the '90s and received strange looks whenever I sang "You'd better call on Tyrone."  She is always outstanding.

When you listen to this song, be sure to pay attention to the drumming and the keyboards.  They are out of this world.

Click Here to listen to the album version.

Click Here to watch a live version recorded in Atlanta with Chrisette Michele on lead vocal.


  1. This is so nice- smooth jazz- a far cry from this morning when I wanted to beat on a tom tom in honor of my past life experience as a rowdy squaw. I guess a lot of us have drum fantasies; I can come out of the closet now. Anyway, this song is a nice way to end my drum beating, head-banging Monday.

  2. Theresa, I suggest you embrace your rowdy, tom-tom banging, inner squaw. But the head banging part troubles me, as this does not seem like a very effective way to beat a drum. Then again, if your gonna bang your head, where better than on a drum? --> 40 Watt


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