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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

John Santos Quintet

By Michael Stone
Published January 28, 2008

Papa Mambo
Machete Records

Based in San Francisco, master percussionist/composer/bandleader/ educator John Santos needs no introduction to Latin jazz aficionados, who know his wide-reaching, innovative work with trendsetters like Francisco Aguabella, Chocolate Armenteros, Ignacio Berroa, Israel “Cachao” Lopez, Dizzy Gillespie, María Márquez, Eddie Palmieri, Tito Puente, Max Roach, Carlos Santana and many, many more. From the first cowbell shot to the closing rumba coro, the group presents an adept and original exploration of the Afro-Cuban oeuvre, highlighting the luminous and interlocking talents of flautist John Calloway, pianist Marco Díaz, timbalero Orestes Vilató, bassist Saul Sierra, and a 20-strong who’ who of Latin jazz guest luminaries. The music’s fierce, transcendent spirit is encapsulated in the album dedication: “May the perpetrators of destruction be enlightened soon, so that their children and ours will be able to walk, breathe, and live in a self-sustaining, life-affirming environment.” Hail, Obatalá!