Arturo Sandoval was born in Artemisa, Cuba on November 6, 1949 and began to play music at age 12 in the village band. After playing many instruments, he fell in love with the trumpet. In 1964, he began three years of serious classical trumpet studies at the Cuban National School of Arts. By the age of 16 he had earned a place in Cuba’s all-star national band and was totally immersed in jazz influenced by Charlie Parker, Clifford Brown and with Dizzy Gillespie as his idol and later mentor and colleague.
In 1971 he was drafted into the military. Luckily, Sandoval was still able to play with the Orquesta Cubana de Musica Moderna. In Cuba, Sandoval co-founded the band Irakere with Chucho Valdes and Paquito D’Rivera. They quickly became a worldwide sensation. Their appearance at the 1978 Newport Jazz Festival introduced them to American audiences and garnered them a recording contract with Columbia Records.
Arturo defected to the United States while touring in Spain with Dizzy in 1990, becoming a naturalized citizen in 1999 and has enjoyed a successful career. He has played with Woody Herman, Herbie Hancock, Woody Shaw, Stan Getz, Celine Dion, Tito Puente, Patti LaBelle, Frank Sinatra, Paul Anka, Gordon Goodwin and numerous others.
His life was the subject of the 2000 TV film For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story, starring Andy Garcia. He currently continues to perform, tour and record around the globe.
Poncho Sanchez was born October 30, 1951 in Laredo, Texas, the youngest of eleven children, but was reared in Norwalk, California. Exposed to and influenced by Afro-Cuban music (mambo, son, cha-cha, rumba, guaracha, salsa) and bebop jazz, he originally started as a guitarist. Discovering his talent for singing during an R&B band audition, he become the group’s lead vocalist. He later taught himself the flute, drums and timbales before finally deciding to pursue conga playing in high school.
In 1975, Sanchez’s idol, vibraphonist Cal Tjader invited him to perform one set with his band. Seeing the young man’s talent, Tjader hired Sanchez for a week before officially making him a full member of the ensemble. Sanchez played a crucial role as conguero for several years until Tjader’s death in 1982.
Before his death, Tjader suggested to Carl Jefferson, Concord Records founder, to sign Sanchez and his soon-to-be-formed group under the Concord Picante label. Tjader’s wishes were honored, and the first two records were composed and arranged by long-time Tjader collaborator Clare Fischer. Poncho produced 19 albums for the label and garnered a Grammy for his “Latin Soul” album.
He has played with Mongo Santamaria, Hugh Masekela and a host of jazz and Latin musicians and vocalists to numerous to name along with the iconic funk band Tower of Power on his “Do It” project. Poncho Sanchez is respected as one of the top percussionists of our time and continues to perform worldwide.
Steve Turre was born September 12, 1948 in Omaha, Nebraska but was raised in San Francisco, California to Mexican American parents. He began studying the violin but switched to trombone by age ten, later studying at the University of North Texas. By 1968 he was playing with Rahsaan Roland Kirk, went on to gig with Carlos Santana and toured with Ray Charles in 1972.
In 1970, encouraged by Kirk, Turre started playing conch and other seashells as musical lip-reed instrument. He has a collection of shells of various sizes, which he has picked up during his travels around the world. Turre leads “Sanctified Shells,” which is a “shell choir” made up of brass players who double on seashell releasing their first album in 1993.
Steve has had a long experience with Latin jazz he has become a skilled cowbell and Venezuelan maracas player. The internationally renowned trombonist, recording artist, arranger, and educator has won the Down Beat Reader’s poll for best trombonist in 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002 and 2006. He has been the trombonist for the Saturday Night Live band since 1985 and has taught jazz trombone at the Manhattan School of Music since 1988.
Turre has recorded 18 albums as a leader and has worked as a sideman on another 206 sessions with such luminaries as Monty Alexander, Carl Allen, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Frank Wess, Ray Barretto, Andy Bey, Art Blakey, Lester Bowie, Don Braden, Cecil Bridgewater, McCoy Tyner and Kenny Burrell among others. He continues to perform, record and tour.
Joe Cuba was born Gilberto Miguel Calderon to Puerto Rican parents on April 22, 1931 in Spanish Harlem in New York City. Playing in his father’s organized stickball club “the Devils”, Cuba broke his leg and his attention shifted to the conga. Practicing every free moment between school, after graduating from high school he joined a band.
In 1950, when he was 19 years old, he played for J. Panama and also for a group called La Alfarona X. The group soon disbanding, Cuba enrolled in college to study law. While at college he attended a concert in which Tito Puente performed. He went up to Tito and introduced himself as a student and fan and soon they developed what was to become a lifetime friendship. This event motivated Cuba to organize his own band and in 1954, his agent recommended that he change the band’s name from the Jose Calderon Sextet to the Joe Cuba Sextet, making their debut at the Stardust Ballroom.
In 1962, Cuba recorded “To Be With You” with the vocals of Cheo Feliciano and Jimmy Sabater, Sr. The band became popular in the New York Latin community. The lyrics to Cuba’s music used a mixture of Spanish and English, becoming an important part of the Nuyorican Movement.
In 1965, the Sextet got their first crossover hit with the Latin and soul fusion of “El Pito” (I Never Go Back To Georgia) a chant taken from Dizzy Gillespie’s intro to the seminal Afro-Cuban tune, “Manteca”. Sabater later revealed, “None of them had ever been to Georgia.
Along with fellow Nuyorican artists such as Ray Barretto and Richie Ray, Cuba was at the forefront of the developing Latin soul sound in New York, merging American R&B styles with Afro-Cuban instrumentation. Cuba was one of the key architects behind the emerging Latin Boogaloo sound, which became a popular and influential Latin style in the latter half of the 1960s.
By 1966, his band which included timbales, congas, bongos, bass, vibraphones and piano among its musical instruments scored a U.S. “hit” on the National Hit Parade List with the song “Bang Bang”, kicking off the popularity of the boogaloo. He also had a Billboard #1 hit that same year with “Sock It To Me Baby” .
Inducted into the International Latin Music Hall of Fame in 1999, Joe was named Grand Marshall of the Puerto Rican Day Parade celebrated in Yonkers, New York in 2004; and was also the director of the Museum of La Salsa, located in Spanish Harlem, Manhattan, New York.
Joe Cuba, conga player and Father of Latin Boogaloo was hospitalized for a persistent bacterial infection and passed away on February 15, 2009 in New York City, after being removed from life support.
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Patrick Bruce Metheny was born August 12, 1954 in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, a suburb southeast of Kansas City. At 15 he won a Down Beat scholarship to a one-week jazz camp, taken under the wing of guitarist Atilla Zoller and met Jim Hall and Ron Carter In NYC. Following high school graduation in 1972, he briefly attended the University of Miami, was quickly offered a teaching position but moved to Boston, accepting a teaching assistantship at Berklee College of Music with vibraphonist Gary Burton, making his name as a teenage prodigy.
In 1974, Metheny gained notoriety playing two sessions with Paul Bley and Carol Goss’ Improvising Artists label along with bassist Jaco Pastorius. He entered the wider jazz scene in 1975 when he joined Gary Burton’s band and his musical momentum carried him rapidly to the point that he had soon written enough material to record his debut album “Bright Size Life” with Pastorius and drummer Bob Moses.
One of the most successful and critically acclaimed jazz and New Age musicians to come to prominence in the 1970s and ’80s, he is the leader of the Pat Metheny Group, is involved in side projects, and has released notable solo, trio, quartet and duet recordings. He has worked with musicians such as Jim Hall, Dave Holland, Roy Haynes, Toninho Horta, Gary Burton, Joni Mitchell, Chick Corea, Pedro Aznar, Jaco Pastorius, Charlie Haden, John Scofield, Jack DeJohnette, Herbie Hancock, Bill Stewart, Ornette Coleman, Brad Mehldau and many others.
His style incorporates elements of progressive and contemporary jazz, post-bop, new age, Latin jazz and jazz-fusion. He has been voted Guitarist of the Year by the Down Beat Magazine Readers Poll several times, was granted the Miles Davis Award by the Montreal International Jazz Festival, has amassed an impressive catalogue of 97 albums as a leader, collaborator or sideman, has three gold albums and has received 20 Grammy Awards.
Guitarist Pat Metheny has been touring for more than 30 years, playing between 120-240 concerts a year.
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