Armando Peraza Day

May 30, 1924 – April 14, 2014

Afro-Cuban Drum Solo

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Percussionist Armando Peraza performs a drum solo during a special 1990s appearance with the “Carlos Santana Band.”

Percussionist Armando Peraza was born on May 30, 1924, in Havana, Cuba.

Orphaned at seven, he lived on the streets, surviving by selling vegetables. But his skills as an athlete, dancer, and musician led him to his first professional gig, where he was quickly embraced by Cuba’s music scene.

A friend of Mongo Santamaría, Peraza moved to New York City in 1949 and, while sitting in with the Machito Orchestra, was invited by Charlie Parker to join a recording session.

And that was just the start of a long and productive career.

Cuban bongo and conga drummer Armando Peraza left his country in 1948 and, after a period in Mexico, ended up in New York the following year.

There he recorded with Charlie Parker and Slim Gaillard, with whom he toured the U.S.

Ending up in San Francisco, he would perform with Dizzy Gillespie and extensively tour with Dexter Gordon and Charles Mingus.

While working in the city in 1954 with pianist Dave Brubeck, Armando met drummer Cal Tjader and recorded the Afro-Cuban jazz rhythm album “Ritmo Caliente,” preceded by “Mas Ritmos Caliente” three years later.

In 1959, he appeared on Mongo Santamaria’s self-titled album, featuring the Afro-Cuban classic “Afro Blue.”

Armando Peraza finally released a solo album that featured “Artistry In Rhythm,” a piece that would become his own popular standard in 1968.

He embarked on the most creatively demanding stage of his career in 1972 when he joined the band of Carlos Santana.

Although Armando officially retired from the group in 1990, he did continue to perform with them in concert on occasion.

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