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John Santos

When it comes to keepers of the Latin-jazz flame, no list is complete without John Santos, the educator, percussionist, producer, bandleader (of the Machete Ensemble, with 11 years and three albums under its belt) and all-purpose situationist on the Afro-Latin axis. Santos was born in San Francisco in 1955, reared in a cultural environment that included Cape Verdean and Caribbean roots. As a musician, he drew on a natural curiosity and cultural outreach sensibility to build up a career that has included work with Cachao, Lalo Schifrin, Cal Tjader, Danilo Perez, Yma Sumac, and the Escovedos (Pete and Sheila).

The Bay Area being a multi-cultural hot spot and a fertile ground for jazz, Santos has tapped into a variety of activities in his extended “hometown.” This fall, he played with Bobby Hutcherson at the Monterey Jazz Festival, and has performed and recorded with Cuban pianist Omar Sosa, a recent emigre to the Bay Area. Santos teaches and gives workshops regularly, both at Stanford and in Europe, which gives him a perspective on the state of the art in the presumably hybrid world where jazz and Latin traditions convene.

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