Interview with John Santos, Oakland, California

Born in San Francisco, CA, 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, Brazil, and Colombia. 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 prolific performer, composer, teacher, writer, radio programmer, and record/event producer whose career has spanned four decades. John has performed and/or recorded with acknowledged multi-generational masters such as Cachao, Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Bebo Valdés, Eddie Palmieri, and Jerry Gonzalez, to name a few. John is widely respected as one of the top writers, teachers, and historians in the field and was a member of the Latin Jazz Advisory Committee of the Smithsonian Institution. He is currently part of the faculty at the California Jazz Conservatory (Berkeley, CA), San Francisco State University, Jazz Camp West (since 1986), and the College of San Mateo (CA). His fourteenth recording, Art of the Descarga, was just released (June 2020) on the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings label.
Interviewed by Raquel Paraíso, 09/25/2020.