In a career spanning almost 40 years, percussionist John Santos has gained world-wide renown and acclaim as one of the great composers and bandleaders in the Afro-Cuban jazz idiom. The four-time Grammy nominee is one of the foremost proponents of Afro-Latin music in the world today, known for his innovative use of its traditional musical forms and instruments. Santos has performed, recorded and studied with acknowledged Afro-Latin and Jazz masters such as Cachao,Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Bebo Valdés, Armando Peraza, Eddie Palmieri, Patato Valdés, Francisco Aguabella, Max Roach, Steve Turré and Alfredo Chocolate" Armenteros.Born in San Francisco to ...read more
John Santos is a sophisticated percussionist with impeccable credentials, so it is no surprise that Filosofía Caribeña, Vol. 1 is a brilliant foray into the broader scope of Caribbean music. As the title infers, there is an inherent rhythmic philosophy ingrained in this music which is as rich and vibrant as the culture which it represents. The John Santos Sextet teams Santos up, once again, with flautist John Calloway, and saxophonist Melecio Magdaluyo. Augmented with a premier rhythm section, they succeed in encompassing the numerous aspects that combine Latin music with jazz, and that is just the ...read more
John SantosPerspectiva FragmentadaMachete2008 John SantosLa Guerra NoMachete2008 Despite an impressive resumé that includes early sideman stints with Tito Puente and Peter Escovedo and bandleading credentials for his long admired Machete Ensemble, which at various times has included grand masters Alfredo Chocolate" Amenteros, Israel Lopez Cachao" and Armando Peraza, as well as young lions Anthony Carillo, Omar Sosa and Yosvany Terry, Bay Area multi-percussionist John Santos has received relatively little recognition in comparison to his ...read more
In the musician's world, the end of one project signals the start of a new journey towards a unique musical destination. When percussionist John Santos and the Machete Ensemble bid the world farewell in 2006, it marked the end of an era in Bay Area Latin jazz. After more than twenty years with the large ensemble, Santos embarked in a new direction, forming a quintet. The group's first album, Papa Mambo, narrates the trip into the future, presenting a mature and unified approach.
The Quintet demonstrates a creative spirit and high-level musicianship on several arrangements. The band takes the popular ...read more
John Santos & The Machete Ensemble 20th Anniversary Machete Records 2005
When percussionist John Santos founded the Machete Ensemble in 1985--back then it was called the Afro-Cuban Jazz Ensemble--he probably had no idea that he was creating an institution. With a difficult mission of blending jazz, folkloric, and dance idioms through an almost entirely original repertoire, and little record label support to help it find an audience, the group was lucky just to survive, despite an enthusiastic following in Oakland and San Francisco.Twenty years on, however, Machete has not only survived, it ...read more
John Santos is riding high these days. His most recent album, S.F. Bay , was nominated for a Grammy Award as Latin Jazz Album of the Year. He has received increasing notice from critics, and is a recognized leader not only in the Bay Area's Latin scene, but in jazz as a whole. This spring, Santos is leading a series of talks and concerts at La Pe'a Cultural Center in Berkeley, focusing on the issues and experiences of local musicians. I caught up with Santos shortly before the Grammy Awards ceremony in February.
All About Jazz: Let's start with the ...read more
By allowing their bands to jam together for this project, Bobby Matos and John Santos have created a loose-knit, easy to like affair. Both percussionist bandleaders emphasize Afro-Latin jazz in their respective ensembles. Beside a colorful lineup of tuned drums and cowbells of different sizes, their combined orchestra has room for traditional Afro-Cuban vocals and fiery horn solos. Two dramatic readings make an emotional impression. One appears as a reverent homage to bassist Israel Cachao" Lopez, 82, who is widely regarded as the creator of mambo music. The other forges ahead in a contemporary mood with thoughts on how this ...read more
Percussionist John Santos combines traditional Afro-Cuban elements with modern jazz. Formed in 1986, his Machete Ensemble is so-named because of the connotation that tool has woven into Caribbean culture. The machete was used throughout history for harvesting sugar cane, and in certain circumstances also as a weapon during violent confrontations. Representing both sides of the ocean, Afro-Cuban music draws from the collective experience of separate cultures by emphasizing their common factors. Santos’ tribute honors the masters of Afro-Cuban music as well as the fathers of modern jazz. With a fresh big band sound, his 8-piece ensemble blends both the traditional ...read more
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