Armando Peraza: Percussionist who played with a host of jazz greats and worked with Carlos Santana for two decades
Thursday 22 May 2014
Described by Carlos Santana as "my greatest teacher, mentor and role model", the Cuban-born bongo and conga player Armando Peraza was a long-serving member of the Latin rock fusion group led by and named after the Mexican guitarist.
When Peraza joined in the spring of 1972, during the recording sessions for Caravanserai, the fourth Santana studio album, the band was in a state of flux after its emergence at the Woodstock festival three years earlier and the worldwide success of the Abraxas and Santana III albums. As Santana entered the most fascinating and experimental chapter in his storied career, collaborating with the British guitarist John McLaughlin on Love Devotion Surrender and the jazz vocalists Leon Thomas and Flora Purim on the Welcome album in 1973, Peraza remained at his side, a link to their Latin American roots, and the jazz greats he had toured with, including Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, Dexter Gordon and Dave Brubeck.
A nimble, powerful and expressive percussionist, he particularly excelled on the Santana albums Borboletta (1974); Amigos (1976), on which he composed and sang "Gitano"; Inner Secrets (1978); Marathon (1979); Zebop! (1981); Shangó (1982); Freedom (1987), containing his evocative instrumental composition "Mandela''; the Viva Santana! collection (1988), which Carlos dedicated to him; and he left after Spirits Dancing In The Flesh (1990). He occasionally guested with Santana, most memorably during the trilogy of concerts the guitarist gave at the Montreux Jazz Festival in July 2006.
Peraza was unsure of his date of birth and might have been older than the information he gave US authorities when he arrived in 1948. Orphaned by the time he was seven, he was brought up by relatives until his early teens and subsequently lived on the streets of Havana, selling fruit and vegetables. He also danced, boxed and played semi-professional baseball.
He taught himself percussion and, after deputising for the congocero in Alberto Ruiz's Conjunto Kubavana, gigged alongside Mongo Santamaria in local night-clubs. They became lifelong friends and moved to New York at the same time. "We took Latin percussion to Harlem. It's international now," said Peraza, who recorded with Charlie Parker on his second day in the Big Apple.
Peraza proved a flamboyant match for the entertainer Slim Gaillard, whom he backed on a tour which led him to San Francisco, where he met Santana's father Jose, a mariachi musician. In the mid-1950s Peraza helped both the British pianist George Shearing and the American multi-instrumentalist Cal Tjader develop an influential blend of jazz and Afro-Cuban rhythms that has become a constant in popular culture, from the mambo craze of the 1950s via the acid jazz movement of the mid-1980s to the present. He suffered from diabetes and died of pneumonia in a San Francisco hospital.
Armando Peraza, percussionist, singer and composer: born Havana c. 30 May 1924; married (one daughter); died San Francisco 14 April 2014.
- 4 #JeSuisEd: People share photos of themselves eating awkwardly in solidarity with Labour leader
- 5 Women think Irish men are the sexiest, survey finds
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
Mysterious 'X-Files' sounds heard miles above the Earth
Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
Who should I vote for in the general election? Take The Independent's interactive quiz to find out which party is the right choice for you
General election: Conservatives mocked online over Boris Johnson's claim of SNP 'jockalypse'
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...
£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...
£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...