the Bongoceros..

(Special thanks to Zeno Okeanos for help with this page)

"The term "Bongocero" connotes a role in a musical aggregation. Many artists who are masterful players of Bongo may be as well known in other roles. This should not exclude them from the list. Many bongoceros in the history of Cuban music (latin music in general) have gone uncredited and unlisted in bands, it is important to make note of the ones we do know about."

Here, in no particular order, are some Bongoceros and percussionists who have contributed to the art of bongo drumming. We know, we need to alphabetize these..

Click on the names to go to more information on these players, i.e. a bio and/or a discography. Thanks to the many fine players who have helped thus far.

Yaroldy Abreu (Maraca, Irakere)

Reynaldo Alcántara  (Saoco)

Bobby Allende

Johnny Almendra - Hector Lavoe Band 1980's

Carmelo Alvarez (PR)

Jose Anibal Alves AKA "EL TOMATE" in boqueron Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico and Tito Alves bongos and tumbadoras with ALMA LATINA and SON ARARA in the U.S. (yes, they are brothers)

Jose Eladio Amat, known as "the Teacher", and teacher he is, at "ENA" (Escuela Nacional de Artes de La Habana), he's currently touring in Europe with his band "Sin Palabras" thanks for this name to Belgian percussionist and teacher Didier Labarre

"Papi Andino" ( Bongocero de Ramito) Ramito was one of the major exponents of Puerto Rican Jibaro Style.

Pedro Barriera - de Puerto Rico. Pedro is the creator the Bongo Madera - the Wooden bongo..

Jose (guayabo) Bartolomey - (La Solucion)

Richie Bastar (El Gran Combo)

Louis Bauzo - Recorded the Merecumbe LP w/Johnny Colon; formed Tambo; teaches percussion at the Boys Harbor Music School in NYC

Willie Bobo (with Tito Puente)

Braulio who played with Orq. Riverside in Cuba and was the one who performed the solo on "El De La Rumba Soy Yo", (We don't know his last name. someone help us out on this one..)

Eddie "Bongo" Brown another fine soul player from Detroit, and another percussionist who played on Marvin Gaye's "Let's get it On" LP. 

Art "Turk" Burton , is based in Chicago, where he performs with the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). He has recorded with fellow Chicago jazz artist, Saxophonist Ari Brown and Flautist Nicole Mitchell.

Iván Cáceres Our drum brother in Puerto Rico had a real passion for the instrument and was known and loved by bongoceros around the world.

Mario Cadavieco,brother of Papi Cadavieco,who played congas for Tito Puente in the early 60's. Played in Miami in the early 70's with Conjunto Universal.

Tito Calderón who plays conga with the Apollo Sound (Roberto Roena) played bongos with the Pete El Conde Rodriguez.

Luis Campana Hernandez (Louie Campana) worked with Casanova y Montuno, Pacheco,Imagen, and at the present time I'am working with Brenda K. Starr, Johnny Rivera, and a new group that's forming now called Los Sonero Del Barrio

Anthony Carillo (Batacumbele)

Candido Camero

Richie Carrasco new young bongocero from Puerto Rico.

Jose Manuel Carriera Incharte (El Chino) or ("El Chinito") {Sextetos Nacional,& Bolona}

Manuel " Eguie " Castrillo   ( Arturo Sandoval )

Julito Castro (LA MASACRE)

Rafael "Congo" Castro - One of the greatest; a native of Puerto Rico, he was based in Chicago, and his career spanned 60 years. Our thanks to Milagro Castro-Reynolds for this worthy submission.

Ramon Castro (Orq. Casino de la Playa)

Luis Chacon (Paulito Y Su Elite)

El Chino played with the orginal Sexteto Nacional

Buck Clarke was originally from Washington D.C. He performed with many jazz artists and at one time led his own jazz ensemble. Clarke recorded an album titled "Drum Sum" on Cadet Records. Clarke later played with organist Jimmy Smith, trumpeter Freddie Hubbard and pianist Les McCann. He was a genuine human being, and was very kind to me (stu), when, as a teen, I spent an evening picking his brain after the gig. He had come through Houston with Les McCann, to the Bastille, and we took him to breakfast afterwards and talked for a couple hours about music and the music business. Thanks Buck!

Celso Clemente Jr. (Tony Vega, Tito Rojas, Tommy Olivencia)

Frank Colon- He's on more than a hundred records with people like Airto, Mickey Hart, Manhattan Transfer, Milton Nascimento, Tania Maria, Gato Barbieri, Flora Purim, Wayne Shorter, Mary J. Blige, Herbie Hancock, Gilberto Gil, and many more! His website is definitely worth a look. It's not some dry billboard, but a real homepage. Thanks Frank..

Nelson Bongo Colon - Ralph robles and his orq.with the fania label, the Joe Panama orq. Wayne Gorbea, the great Moncho Lena, y su Mambo del Ases, Chivirico Davila, Charlie Palmieri, etc.

Ray Colon (Willie Colon)- A native of the Bronx, Ray is definitely a first call player...he has worked with producer Sergio George, Willie Colon, Johnny Pachecho, Isidro Infante, and has recorded with Tito Nieves, Marc Anthony, Celia Cruz, DLG, Raulin Rosendo, Tito Puente, George Lamond, Ruben Blades, Charlie Cruz, Dominic and many more...Ray Colon endorses Meinl Percussion...

Roberto "Buzigo" Colón , brother of the late "Santitos Colón." 

Jack Costanzo (Mr. Bongo)

Roberto Torres Creach (Cuarteto Patria)

Angel Cruz - (Cleveland)]

Pedrito Diaz was a bongocero of the orchestra Mirasol Colores, a latin jazz band of the seventies from Barcelona, Spain. He came from Cuba passed on in the early eighties whe he was about sixty years old.  

Rafael "Tito" Echevarrio (Gilberto Santa Rosa)

Candido Equena legendary Cuban bongocero.

Tito Faberge (Bobby Valentin)

Angel Luis Figueroa began his professional career at the age of 14 along side the great Mongo Santamaria. Since then he has performed with such musical trendsetters as the Temptations, Kenny Loggins, Vinx, Herbie Hancock, Mark Anthony, Brian McKnight and most recently with Jackson Browne and Maxwell. Based in L.A.

Nils Fischer, member of Nueva Manteca and The Cubop City Bigband (The Netherlands) and also of the new timba-orchestra La Banda Iré.

Andres "Tavera" Fisto (Changui Bongosero having learned from the 'old'bongoseros)

Bill Fitch Mostly known through his conga solo on his own tune "Insight" with  Cal Tjader on "Sona Libre" on Verve and other work on that album including bongo.

Papi Fuentes (Tommy Olivencia)

Tony Fuentes (Ray Barreto, Bobby Valentin)

Marty Galagarza (Willie Colon, La Conquistadora)

Master Henry Gibson (noted for his prominent R&B bongo work with Curtis Mayfield on the film score to "Super Fly")

Adel "Chamita" Gonzalez (Irakere, Carlitos del Puerto)

Joe Gonzalez - NYC. He recorded with the Mario Bauza Orchestra, three albums, until the demise of Mr. Bauza. Recorded and plays with the Chico O'Farrill Orchestra, with whom he can be seen in the documentary film, "Calle 54," Joe also plays quite a bit with Hilton Ruiz and is featured bongo on both of the Conga King recordings with Patato, Candido and Hildago. Joe is a great and tasty bongocero, one of our favorites.

Carlos Gonzalez (Sierra Maestra)

NYC bongocero Jorge Gonzalez - Currently performing with Willie Colon, Johnny Pacheco and Ruben Blades y Son Del Solar. He's recorded and performed with Willie Colon, Ruben Blades, Johnny Pacheco, Ray Barretto, Larry Harlow, Louie Ramirez, Chico Mendoza, Paul Simon, Juan Luis Guerra,Van Lester, Yomo Toro, Celia Cruz. Has played on three Grammy nominated albums. 

Manolito Gonzales (Ricardo Ray)

Manuel Gonzalez (Ritchie Ray & Bobby Cruz Orchestra)

Pablo Cortés Gonzales (NG La Banda)

Vitín González (performed Ismael Rivera & Cachimbos)

Agustin Gutierez "Manana" (1900-1982) (Sexteto Habanero)

Bobbye Hall from Detroit, it's said she played with the supremes when she was 17. Later she followed motown when it moved to los angeles. one seriously classic record she's on is Marvin Gaye's "let's get it on". greasy martillo action, non repititive accents that percolate the groove,that only a relaxed player can do is evident here. not a traditional Latin player, but still quite capable...

"Naldo" Hernandez From Cuba, teacher for years at ISA (Instituto Superior De Artes) de La Habana, He's "Goyo's" son, the famous rumba singer. Naldo has played with a lot of bands in Cuba, now he lives in Roma, Italy. He's really great, with bongos, congas, timbales but also Batas.(submitted by Belgian Percussionist Didier Labarre)

Danny Frankel studied with Mike Pacheco and Kevin Ricard (who also belongs on this list, incidentally.) Danny's on Bebel Gilberto's new record on the classic tune "summer samba"

Giovanni Hidalgo

Dick Hyman - made over 200 albums with prominent bongos..

Rogelio Iglesias "Yeyito" (performed with Chachao in the '50's)

Percy James - played bongos and congas with the jazz ensemble Quartet Tres Bien, which was based out of St. Louis. This was during the late 50s, 60s and early 70s. The Quartet Tres Bien was basically a piano trio with percussionist. The sound of the group revolved around James' bongo and conga playing, which made the group unique. They recorded on the Decca and Atlantic recording labels, released quite a few albums.

Chino Cruz De Jesus (La Conspiracion)

Johny Kenton (Perico)

Papa Kila (Arsenio Rodriguez)

Mitchell Laboy (El Gran combo)

Papi La Mona (P.R.)

Richard "Pablo" Landrum played mostly with instrumental soul jazz artists in the 60s and 70s such as pucho and the latin soul brothers and ike "boogaloo joe" jones. Also put in a fine performance on the Freddie Hubbard "Straight Life" Album

Robert "Eto" Lastra - (Thanks to Junior Perez for this name) One of the greats on the NYC scene . He has played with mostly Hector Lavoe for mostly Hector's NYC gigs . He has played side by side many times with his good friend Eddie Montalvo . He is also Tito Nieves's cousin and has played with Tito on numerous occasions . He has also played with Kako , Pete "El Conde" , The Lebron Brothers , Luigi Texidor , Yolanda Rivera , Tito Gomez and countless others . He also heads his own band , Eto Lastra Y Salsa Dura . His main instrument is timbales but he is a serious bongocero as well.

Rafa Laverde colombian bongosero in London

Eduardo F. Lavoy ...Cuban artist, who played many years with Roberto Faz, currently plays in the group "Muso y su Gran Sonora." Changuito speaks very highly of  Eduardo, with whom he has worked. 

Moncho Lena, before he began to play timbale, cascarita was also a great bongosero, beside being a great sonero. (Thanks for info on these two entries to Nelson Bongo Colon.

Raymond "Pee Wee" Lopez, bongocero with Borincuba, Justo Betancourt and in Miami with Miguel, Oscar y La Fantasia.

Tommy "Choki" Lopez (Eddie Palmieri)

Alberto Machuca (PR)

José Mangual Sr. (Buyu)

Jose Mangual Jr. (Hector Lavoe)

Luis Mangual (Pacheco)

Our thanks to Dario Rosendo for this: " Mongo Santamaria and I were personal friends for over 30 years. Aside from Clemete Piquero,"Chicho", Mongo also mentioned "El Principe Marino" as one of his and Armando Peraza's early influences. El Principe played with the the best Son sextets in Havana of the 1930's including Sexteto Bolon

Nicky Marrero (Orquesta Harlow, Eddie Palmieri, etc.)

Miguel Martin has recorded with Marco Rizo and Cachao on bongos and has worked widely in the Miami area, with Ismael Miranda, Frankie Ruiz, and many others. Known primarily as a singer, he is a lifelong percussionist, He started backing Celia Cruz in the old "Centro Espanol" nightclub in Miami, where he played bongos with her.

Gary Martínez, played with orq. Exodo, Joey Hernández and Proyecto X.

Luis "Sabu" Martinez (took over Chano Pozo's chair in the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band after Pozo's death)

Osvaldo "Chiuhauha" Martinez

Pedro Pablo Martinez: batas, congas, bongos, timbales. Winner of the thelonious monk Handdrum Competition. Freelances around the NYC-area and is also a master bata teacher, singer. Performs with Raices Habanera, Pan Con Timba, JC Formell

Ralph Marzan - played w/ Pacheco

Edgardo Matos from Puerto Rico played with Frankie Hernandez, Orquesta Epoca And Orquesta La Experimental.

Paoli Mejias (Eddie Palmieri,Deep Rumba, Seis del Solar)

Roberto "Robertito" Melendez: Plays with Boby Matos, El Chicano, Susy Hansen

Pedro Mena (Matamoros)

Juan Mendez was the original bongocero for Conjunto Rumbabana.When he left Cuba he was replaced by none other than the great "Papa Bongo"Rolito Soto, who was very young at the time. In New York Juan played with Johnny Pacheco,Orchesta Broadway (played Tumbadora), Roberto Torres for many years and was the bongocero for the SAR All Stars. He also worked with Liberachi in Las Vegas. Juan died a few years ago in Miami.

Juan Mendoza (Johnny) Johnny played with Sammy Davis Jr. for 20 years; anyone who more info please add here.

Jorge Miranda (Sonora Ponceña)

Nicolás «Nico» Monterola: a great Master Bongocero from Venezuela. He
founded Orchestra Renovación in the early seventies. Nico was a pioneer
introducing the New Salsa Sound Wave Style in Venezuela. He encouraged the
modern way of playing Bongo inspired by the great Yeyito Iglesias from
Cuba. He approaches a real cuban swinging Timbalito & Conga drums. He is
also a renowned percussion handmade manufacturer in Catia-Caracas.

Sonny Morgan from Philadelphia. Sonny (also spelled Sunni) was a master bongo player and also performed on congas. He recorded with African drummer Olatunji, and jazz artist that included McCoy Tyner, Kenny Barron, Count Basie, Oliver Nelson, Gato Barbieri, Leon Thomas, Willis Jackson and Charles Earland. A great example of his
bongo playing can be found on the Count Basie album, "Afrique," which was recorded on Impulse. Sonny performed with Gato Barbieri at the Montruex Jazz Festival. Thanks to Art "Turk' Burton for this submission..

Nachito (Orq. Cabala)

José Navarro (Cheo) a fine Venezuelan bongocero - b..April'52. Caracas-Venezuela. He played with Conjunto La Crítica de Oscar D'León, Trabuco Venezolano and 'Pavo'Frank Hernández Latin Ensemble.

Phil Newsome (Harlow)

Miguel Nieto (Mario Ortiz Orchestra)

Tito Ocasio (Lebron Brothers)

Javier Oquendo (Eddie Palmieri)

Manny Oquendo - although more often associated with Timbales, Manny also plays bongos very well..

Domingo "Sonny" Ortiz - plays with a band called Widespread Panic, tours for a large part of the year and Sonny almost always plays a solo session that is a work of art.

Rubén "CITO" Ortiz (Conjunto Chaney) Cito's touch in bongos is specially appreciated in "Musica Jibara" (puertorrican hilbilly music)

Mike Pacheco (L.A., early 50's)

Alejandro Panetta ( plays with Alfredo de la Fe )

ChiChi Peralta - Son Familia NY

Armando Peraza

Clemente Piquero "Chicho" bongocero from Beni More's orchestra and Perez Prado's recordings, he was Mongo Santamaria's mentor as Mongo was growing up in "el barrio de Jesus Maria en la Habana". Thanks to Dario Rosendo for this submission..

Miguel Angel Portillo (a/k/a "Panchito Chevrolet") Sexteto nacional ca. 1930

Chino Pozo

Mark Quinones also at LP, an intense talent

Ramoncito "Mongo" Ramos Ramon has played in los angeles for the last 23 years, performing at an ultimate level with many exellent players such as Jose "Papo" Rodriguez y Orq. La Sorpresa and Azuquita. Thanks for the nomination to Ernesto Valenzuela "Conguero and founder of Orq.Primo in San Diego "

Manolo Reinoso (Sexteto "Occidente")& (Sexteto Machin)

Marcos Reyes has played with his own band Salsiology, Malo, El Chicano, Tierra, Mento Buru, and is now currently the percussionist for the band WAR

Ramon Rivera (Noro Morales

David Rodriguez A young, up and coming player with an aggressive He's currently freelancing and has worked with ISIDRO INFANTE and others

Johnny "Dandy" Rodriguez

Jose "Papo" Rodriguez (currently with Poncho Sanchez)

Raymundo "Nundo" Rodriguez (PR)

Sal Rodriquez - An L.A. based bongocero/conguero, he has worked with Jose Feliciano, Tierra and presently is working with War..

Sam Rodriguez

Roberto Roena thanks to Luis Rodriguez for this link to Roberto Roena info

Mike Rojas

Edgar Romero  is widely considered one of the top bongoceros in Canada.

Ray Romero

Pablo Rosario (Orquesta harlow, Mongo Santamaria, etc)

Pedrito Roque (Roberto y su nuevo Montuno)

Juan "El Chino" Ross - Played with: Ismael Rivera y su Cachambito

Fats Sadi - a good bongocero from France who played with various jazz groups in Europe. Ray Barretto talked about him in an interview. He recorded with the Francey Boland-Kenny Clark Big Band.

Bobby Sanabria

Michito Sanchez - Cuba L.A., Tolú

Ramon "Mongo" Santamaria (yes, he plays bongos too, of course...)

Ray Santana (Pedrtito Guzman Jibaro Jazz P.R.)

Ralphy Santi (Ralphy Santi Orq.)

Wiso Santiago ,great Puerto Rican bongocero who has played with everybody in the Miami area,and was also Marvin Santiago's bongocero in P.R.

John Santos (Machete Ensemble)

Baby Serrano (Gran Combo)

Carlitos Soto (Barreto, Perico)

Rolando Soto "Rolito"

Andres Sotolongo (Isaac Oviedo, Routes of Rhythm vol.3)

Narisco 'Papi' Torres - A harlem native, he played with Tito Rodriguez for some time; also had his own band (yamboro). he passed away in 1989.

Ray Turull - NYC - plays with SonSublime..

Johnny Valenzuela played for the bands Malo, El Chicano, Tierra, and Jorge Santana, he now runs the Malo web site and is with the management of Jorge Santana.

Gadwin Vargas - lives in Canovanas, PR and has played & recorded with Luis Enrique( he recorded the live album), Cano Estremera, Domingo Quinones, Rey Ruiz, Elias Lopes Orquestras. He plays congas & bongos as well as minor percussion. Currently he is freelancing with salsa & jazz artists.

Aryam Vazquez: congas, timbales, bongos - another one of the young
percussion lions in the NYC area. Great speed, technical control and
independece. Works mostly in the jazz idiom. Plays congas with Juan Pablo
Torres, Charles Flores and Pan Con Timba.

José Miguel Velazquez (Manolin el Medico de la Salsa)

Orestes Vilato

Raul "BongooL'Ache" Rojas Villa (Instrumentos Moperc)

Nicolas Vivas (Conjunto Chaney)

Tony Zaydal, great Cuban bongocero,who hasa played with everybody in Miami and New York. In Miami with Conjunto Impacto primarily and in New York with Pacheco and also with Pete "Conde" Rodriguez.

Please help us if you can with bio info on these bongoseros:

Armando Peraza's main influence, "Marcello el Blanco." Thanks to Bobby Sanabria for this name. Bobby said according to Candido, this gentleman is still alive in Miami. (2001).

This page © 1996-2008 , Eric Stuer.
All rights reserved.
RHYTHMWEB™ and RHYTHM WEB™ are trade marks,
and any use of these names is a violation of applicable law.