Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
MONGUITO, 'El Unico'
(b Ramon Quian, Manguito, Matanzas Province, Cuba) Afro-Cuban sonero (extemporizing salsa singer) with distinctive nasal voice, composer, bandleader, producer; dubbed 'El Unico' ('The Unique'). He performed with Orquesta Ito and Orquesta Mazzuet in his native town before relocating to Havana, there sang with Orquesta Modernista and Conjunto Modelo; moved to Mexico in the 1950s, there worked with Conjunto de Alejandro Sossa, Orquesta Los Brillantes, Pepé Arévalo y sus Mulatos and appeared in three movies; moved to NYC '62, began with Orquesta Broadway, made first album with Arsenio Rodriguez on Primitivo '63 on Roost. He was a member of Johnny Pacheco's band Nuevo Tumbao '64-6; sessioned on Herbie Mann's Latin Mann '65 (aka Big Boss Mann); participated in Tico All-Stars' Descargas At The Village Gate Live, Vols 1 And 3 '66; shared lead vocals on Larry Harlow's second LP Bajandote -- Gettin' Off '67 during a year and a half with his orchestra. Made Fania solo debut with Pacheco Presents Monguito '67, followed by El Unico y su Conjunto c.1969, De Todo Un Poco '70, Escuchame/ Listen To Me '71; sang 'Me Gusto El Son' on Fania All Stars' debut LP Live At The Red Garter, Vol. 1 '68.
His output dropped during the 1970s; he made Yo Si Como Candela '72 on Teca (reissued as Punteame Bien El Tres '91) and Monguito El Unico! a little later. His debut on SAR (founded 1979 by Sergio Bofill, Adriano Garcia and Roberto Torres) Yo No Soy Mentiroso '79, produced by Torres, went gold; he made albums in NY for the Ivory Coast-based Sacodis label as a lead singer and music director in style akin to SAR's popular formula of extended Cuban son montunos and guajiras with ample room for solos, including From Cuba To Africa '80, Monguito El Unico Presents Laba Sosseh In USA/Salsa Africana Vols 1 And 2 '80, Charanga Para Todos '80; Doh Alberto A Manhattan USA: Salsa Africana Vol. 3 '80, En Curaçao '80, Algo Diferente '80, Montuno Para Ti, Vol. 1 '81 with Peruvian singer Melcochita, Monguito El Unico International '81, Alto Songo c.'84. Toured Africa '80, presented there with a gold disc for his Sacodis debut From Cuba To Africa; his Monguito El Unico '82 and El Unico! '84 were both produced by Torres on SAR sister label Toboga; he released Yo Soy La Meta '85 on SAR descendant Caimán. He revisited his SAR/Sacodis sound '93 with El Padrino Del Son Montuno on Manguito; returned to SAR with Sazonando '95, produced by Torres in Miami. Compilations issued included La Crema and Sabrosura '80 with Pacheco on Fania, Sacodis collection Monguito El Unico International late '80s and SAR collections Lo Mejor de Monguito Vols 1 And 2 '91.