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Jose Luis "Changuito" Quintana

Legendary Cuban percussionist, Jose Luis "Changuito" Quintana, whose nickname means "little fighter", was born in Casablanca, Cuba, in 1948. At the age of eight, Changuito became a professional musician with the Havana Jazz Band. He also played with his father, a musical maestro, and at the age of eleven joined the band Cuba Mambo. By the age of twelve, Changuito was appearing regularly at the Morocco Nightclub in Havana, and at thirteen he played in various army bands, including Estrellas de Occidente, after volunteering for military service.

When Changuito left the military in 1964, he joined Los Harmonicas, a group that gained considerable fame in Cuba. He was also a member of Sonorama 6 for a year, and, in 1968, Changuito played drums for both Souvinir and La Orchestra de Musica Moderna in the province of Pinar del Rio. Upon returning to Havana in 1970, he joined Los Van Van, which soon became one of the most popular Cuban orchestras in the world. It was at this time that Changuito introduced the "songo", where the original combination of percussion instruments (timbales, cowbells, woodblocks, electronic drums and cymbals) and the technical displacement of hands sealed a distinctive and highly original touch.

His first solo album, which was recorded in 1992, led to global recognition for the artist, and he won a Grammy in 1996 for the album Ritmo y Candela.

Changuito's extraordinary innovations on tumbadoras, timbales, and drum set have influenced countless drummers around the world including Giovanni Hidalgo and Karl Perazzo of Santana. His enigmatic personality and musical genius continue to make him a major influence among today's musicians.

To learn more about Jose Luis "Changuito" Quintana, CLICK HERE.


Latin Percussion great, Changuito, stopped by our LP studios for a visit and posed for some photos.

Changuito in Cuba around 1979.