RIP: Latin Music Loses 2 More Giants

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We have lost 2 great Latin musicians that will be missed. First, there was percussionist Armando Peraza, who played bongos and congas for Carlos Santana for over 20 years. Once a homeless orphan on the streets of Havana: “I was sleeping on the street…I grew up with a lot of violence,” he told Latin Beat magazine, an LA-based publication.

Peraza taught himself drums and rose to become one of the great Cuban hand drummers. He also became a semi-pro baseball player. He is believed to have died at 89, but since he made up his birthdate for the authorities when he left Cuba for the U.S. in the 1940s, this may be inaccurate. According to existing Cuban public records, he was born in Havana on May 30, 1924.

Peraza was much in demand as a percussionist, working with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie in NYC during the 1940s “Cubop” period, George Shearing, Dave Brubeck, Cal Tjader and Art Tatum. He was also a first-call percussionist for pop stars like Aretha Franklin, Linda Ronstadt, and Eric Clapton. But it was his long tenure with Carlos Santana that brought his talents to the biggest audience.

Here is Peraza demonstrating some cool (or hot?) conga patterns:

The second musician is Cheo Feliciano–one of the greatest Puerto Rican salsa singers–who died in a car accident in Puerto Rico this past week on April 17th. He was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, in 1936 and came to New York with his father at the age of 17. He worked with Cuban bandleader Machito and mambo king Tito Puente and the Puerto Rican supergroup The Fania All Stars.

Here he is performing at the North Sea Festival in the famous song “Anacaona”, named after the famous all-woman Cuban group from the 1930s and 40s: