Armando Peraza: Percussionist who played with a host of jazz greats and worked with Carlos Santana for two decades

 

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.

PIERRE PERRONE

Armando Peraza, percussionist, singer and composer: born Havana c. 30 May 1924; married (one daughter); died San Francisco 14 April 2014.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: In House Counsel - Contracts

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...

Recruitment Genius: Associate System Engineer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...

Recruitment Genius: Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Executive Assistant is required to join a l...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat