The Hottest Conga CDs Of All Time

Left to right: Sikiru, Gavid Garibaldi, Mickey Hart, Zakir Hussein, Giovanni Hidalgo

Mickey Hart’s Planet Drum: Supralingua (1998)

(Congas: Giovanni Hidalgo)

This recording features Mickey Hart’s all-star ensemble with some serious drum and percussion jams. Anytime you can pair up Giovanni on congas with David Garibaldi on drum set you are in for a groovin’ musical journey. There are a host of awesome players lending credit to this recording, but Gio has some simply stellar conga tracks in this non-typical world music format. Check out the melodic congas on “Umayeyo,” then take a shower afterwards because you will be covered in stinky groove sauce!

Caribbean Jazz Project: The Gathering (2002)

(Congas: Richie Flores, Roberto Quintero)

Richie Flores is definitely one of the new-school freaks on congas. He showcases his blistering doubles that are seamless and effortless. “Masacoteando (In The Groove)” is the last track and one of Flores’ compositions that is quite ridiculous. Don’t try to figure it out, just make sure you have your diapers on! Not to be understated, Quintero, is also part of the newer conga generation and lays down an awesome feel on “The Path.” Needless to say this is a CD that will either inspire you to practice your congas a bit more, or just flat out sell them!

Spanish Harlem Orchestra: Across 110th Street (2004)

(Congas: Bobby Allende)

They call themselves “the world’s hottest salsa band,” and no doubt their albums prove it. Spanish Harlem Orchestra (SHO) is “dedicated to preserving the vital history of classic Latin dance orchestras while at the same time writing and arranging new music for the audience of today.” Allende lends his conga talents on “Across 110th Street” (which features Ruben Blades on vocals). The conga playing is rock solid, and precise with very creative unison rhythm section breaks that are essential for salsa. His solo on “Maestro De Rumberos” (dedicated to Ray Barretto) is classy and musical. If you are new to the world of salsa, SHO is a perfect introduction.

Sammy Figueroa: …And Sammy Walked In (2005)

(Congas: Sammy Figueroa)

Figueroa’s discography reads like the Grammy Awards’ guest list, but his own Latin Jazz Explosion is all about Sammy’s conga chops. ...And Sammy Walked In is his 2005 Grammy nominated release, and is an excellent example on how congas can swing. His solo fills on the opener, “Syncopa O No” are very tasty and his congas are extremely prevalent and well recorded and mixed. The funk/Latin track “Bolivia” is a perfect illustration on how to play and equally important, when not to play congas in certain sections of a song.

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