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John Santos

Five-time GRAMMY nominated percussionist, educator, producer, composer, John Santos, is one of the foremost exponents of Afro-Latin music in the world today. He is known for his innovative use of traditional forms and instruments in combination with contemporary music, and has earned much respect and recognition as a record and event producer.

Born in San Francisco, California, November 1, 1955. Percussionist, composer, writer and educator John Santos was raised in the Puerto Rican and Cape Verdean traditions of his family, surrounded by music. The fertile musical environment of the San Francisco Bay Area shaped his career in a unique way. His studies of Afro-Latin music have included several trips to New York, Puerto Rico, Cuba and Colombia.

He has performed, recorded and studied with acknowledged masters of the Afro-Latin and Jazz idioms such as Cachao, Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Lazaro Ros, Armando Peraza, Eddie Palmieri, Patato Valdes, Francisco Aguabella, Orestes Vilato, Rene Lopez, Max Roach, Walfredo de los Reyes, Milton Cardona, Roberto Borrell and Chocolate Armenteros. He was the director of the Orquesta Tipica Cienfuegos (l976-1980) and the Orquesta Batachanga (1981-1985). From 1985 through 2006, Mr. Santos directed the Machete Ensemble, a world-class Latin Jazz band of international renown that recorded nine CDs, mostly on his own Machete Records label. In 2003, he recorded the duo CD La Mar, with Cuban piano phenom, Omar Sosa. This experience has provided a solid foundation for Mr. Santos' ground-breaking work in bringing together styles, rhythms, concepts and artists from different generations.

Widely respected as one of the top writers, educators and historians in the field, Mr. Santos is a member of the Latin Jazz Advisory Committee of the Smithsonian Institution and has contributed to the international magazines Percussive Notes, Modern Drummer, Modern Percussionist, and Latin Percussionist. The San Francisco Bay Area community in which he still lives and works has presented him with numerous awards and honors for artistic excellence and social dedication.


. . . Santos and his cohorts have added significantly to the modern canon of Caribbean-based jazz without adulterating the rhythmic foundations of its Cuban roots -LATIN BEAT

A walking encyclopedia of the history of Afro-Latin music and the societies that created it, Santos is a leading authority on the music -OAKLAND TRIBUNE

Santos has placed the Bay Area on the cutting edge of Latin Jazz -EAST BAY EXPRESS

Santos has been faithfully carrying the Latin Jazz torch on the other coast for years. He has generally been a sparkplug for a wave of musical invention at the vo rtex where Jazz, Latin and other ideas meet -JAZZ TIMES

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Primary Instrument



Concert Schedule

Album Discography

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Descarga for Bud

Sedajazz Records


One Note At A Time

Wide Hive Records


Little Wizdoms

UNika Records


Filosofía Caribeña...

Machete Records


Papa Mambo

Machete Records


John Santos & The...

Machete Records




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