John Santos, a 2012 San Francisco Latino Heritage Arts Awardee, was born and raised in San Francisco’s Mission District amidst an extended family of Puerto Rican musicians, he’s been at the center of the Bay Area’s Latin music scene for over four decades. He is a US Artists Fontanals Fellow, served on the Smithsonian Institution’s Latin Jazz Advisory Committee and has played an essential role in expanding Latin jazz’s rhythmic lexicon beyond the foundational Cuban grooves. He has produced a steady stream of critically-acclaimed, peer-respected recordings on his Machete Records label since 1984 and has traveled the world as a teacher and lecturer since the mid-eighties.
John is known for his innovative use of traditional forms and instruments in combination with contemporary music. He has performed and/or recorded with masters such as Tito Puente, Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, Cachao, Eddie Palmieri, James Moody, Omar Sosa, McCoy Tyner, Giovanni Hidalgo, and Bebo Valdés.
John’s work has been recognized and supported by the Monterey Jazz Festival, the Smithsonian Institution, the California Arts Council, United States Artists, the Zellerbach Family Fund, the Fund for Folk Culture, the Ford Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the San Francisco Foundation, the East Bay Community Foundation, the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture, the Creative Work Fund, the Fleishhacker Foundation, and the cities of San Francisco and Oakland.
He was founder and director (1985-2006) of the internationally renowned, Grammy-nominated Machete Ensemble, and currently directs the Cubadisco-nominated, John Santos Sextet. November 12, 2006 was proclaimed John Santos Day in San Francisco by Mayoral proclamation.
The John Santos Sextet: Dr. John Calloway – flute, piano, Marco Diaz – piano, trumpet, Charlie Gurke – saxes, Saul Sierra – bass, David Flores – drums, John Santos – percussion