top of page

Episode 40 with John Santos

Bridging Both Worlds:

from Tradition to Innovation

November 7th, 2018

Listen as I talk with John Santos, 7 time Grammy nominated percussionist and one of the foremost exponents of Afro-Latin music in the world today. John straddles both sides of many worlds, tradition and innovation, the sacred and the profane, the old and the new - all explored throughout this in-depth conversation about his near death experience that helped shape his path, the artist as today’s shaman, and the difference between performance and sacred invocations - woven together with music and recordings from John’s albums: La Esperanza, La Mar, and John Santos and the Machete Ensemble.

See John Santos live!!!

November 30th with the John Santos Sextet at Yoshi's in Oakland.

Ready to make a change for yourself in 2019? Click here to fill out a free application for Private Coaching.

Music Credits (in order of appearance):

2:44 Marakitinche from the album, La Esperanza: Destani Wolf (lead vocals), Elena Pinderhughes and Samora Pinderhughes (coro), John Santos (percussion, coro, arrangement), Mario Abruzzo (percussion)

9:12  La Esperanza from the album, La Esperanza: Lázaro Galarraga (lead voice), Sandy Pérez (cajón y tumbadora), Jesus Diaz (segunda tumbadora, quinto y cajón), Javier Navarrette (guagua - sticks), John Santos (arrangement, chekere, coro), José Luis Gomez (clave, coro), Ismael Rodriguez, Willie Ludwig, Reynalda Núñez, Beatriz Muñiz (coro)

16:30 Oshún Kolé from the album, La Esperanza: Wayne Wallace (synth bass and strings), Rebeca Mauleon (coro, voice), Willie Ludwig, Ismael Rodriguez, Elena Pinderhughes (coro), John Santos (lyesá drums, ganzá, bells, woodblock, lead voice, coro)

20:02 De Allá Lejos from the album, La Mar:  Omar Sosa (piano, spoken voice), John Santos (tubes, foot stomp, shaker, voice), Maria Marquez (voices)

24:22 La Mar from the album, La Mar: Omar Sosa (piano), John Santos (ocean drum, miscellaneous percussion), Maria Marquez (voice) Rahsaan Fredericks (bass)

27:37 Nganga from the album, La Mar: Omar Sosa (piano, voice), John Santos (tumbadoras, lead voice, coro, shakers, cajón), Guillermo "Negro" Triana (coro), Lazaro Rizo (coro), Rahsaan Fredericks (bass)

29:21 La Jardinera from the album, John Santos and the Machete Ensemble: arr. W. Wallace/J. Santos, José Fajardo (flute), Orestes Vilató (timbales), John Calloway (piano), Wayne Wallace (trombone), Raúl Navarrette (trombone), Melecio Magdaluyo (alto sax), Alex Murzyn (tenor sax), David Belove, Felo Barrio (güiro, coro), Javier Navarrette (congas), John Santos (quinto, bell, crasher, coro), Orlando Torriente (coro), José Luis Gomez (coro), Bárbara Valladares (coro), Corinna Ludzuweit (school bell)

30:32 La Mar from the album, La Mar: see credits above

41:24 Marakitinche from the album, La Esperanza: see credits above


Seven-time Grammy-nominated percussionist, US Artists Fontanals Fellow, and 2013-2014 SFJAZZ Resident Artistic Director, John Santos, is one of the foremost exponents of Afro-Latin music in the world today 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 masters such as Cachao, Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Carlos Santana and many others. John was a member of the Latin Jazz Advisory Committee of the Smithsonian Institution. He has conducted countless workshops in the US, Latin America and Europe since 1973 at institutions of all types including the Smithsonian, the Adventures in Music program of the San Francisco Symphony, the Berklee School of Music in Boston, UCLA, Yale, and Stanford. To find music, performances and more information, please visit

Other Episodes You May Like:

E1 Perform Like A Shaman: The Manifesto with show host, Holly Shaw

E37 Dancing with Your Ancestors with flamenco dancer/writer, Marianna Mejia

E39 Inspiration from the Beyond  with screenwriter, Cynthia Whitcomb

Get notified when a new episode is ready!

Find Performers & Creators Lab Podcast on Your Favorite Podcast App:

  • Black iTunes Icon
  • Black Google Play Icon
  • Black Twitter Icon
  • Black Instagram Icon
  • Black Facebook Icon
  • Black YouTube Icon
bottom of page