Known as “El Maestro” of the mambo sound, for the past 50 years Ray Santos has played, , composed and arranged for the premiere orchestras in Latin music including Tito Puente, Tito Rodriguez, Mario Bauza and Machito, to name a few. Santos’ music captures what he calls “the incessant rhythmic drive of the Afro-Cuban sound fused with the power and sonority of Big Band Jazz.”
Mr. Santos is widely recognized for composing and arranging music for Grammy Award-winning projects by musical giants including Tito Puente, Eddie Palmeri and Paquito D’Rivera. In 1992, Santos received critical acclaim for his arrangements for The Mambo Kings movie soundtrack, including the Oscar-nominated song, “Beautiful Maria of My Soul.” In the same year, Santos collaborated with Linda Ronstadt on “Frenesi,” a tour-de force production that earned the Grammy Award for Best Tropical Latin Album of the Year. In 1998 he was invited to be a special guest conductor for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra at the landmark concert “Con Alma/Jazz with a Latin Tinge.”
A New York native and graduate of The Julliard School, Santos is one of the leading authorities on Afro-Caribbean music and is frequently interviewed on radio, television and film, including “Cachao: Uno Más” the upcoming documentary on the life of great Cuban musician Israel “Cachao” López. He has been an esteemed music educator at the City College of New York for nearly 25 years and is frequently invited to lecture at colleges and universities throughout the U.S. including Dartmouth College, Lehman College, The New England Conservatory of Music and has served as artist-in-residence at the SUNY Purchase College School of the Arts, Conservatory of Music.
Among Santos’ numerous awards are the Chico O’Farrill Lifetime Achievement Award and the Bobby Capo Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2003, Santos was inducted into the International Latin Music Hall of Fame.