Sammy Figueroa
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Sammy Figueroa

Miami Beach, Florida, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2001 | MAJOR | AFM

Miami Beach, Florida, United States | MAJOR | AFM
Established on Jan, 2001
Band Jazz Latin


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"The worldwide jazz music talent right in our own backyard: Sammy Figueroa"

Born in the Bronx, Sammy Figueroa is the son of the well-known bolero singer Charlie Figueroa. The celebrated Puerto Rican musician and bandleader has played with jazz icons such as Miles Davis, Quincy Jones, Al Jarreau, Lena Horne, Arturo Sandoval, Ruben Blades, Eddie Palmieri, and Herbie Hancock. A master jazz percussionist and legendary conguero, he has received two Grammy nominations during an illustrious career that spans more than three decades.

While rubbing elbows with the famous “who’s who” of jazz, Figueroa has also gifted his talent to the likes of countless pop, rock and R&B music idols: Chaka Khan, Mariah Carey, Blondie, Aretha Franklin Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Celine Dion, Diana Ross, Natalie Merchant, Luther Vandross, Ashford & Simpson, Whitney Houston, Roberta Flack, David Lee Roth, Hall & Oates, Annie Lennox, Grace Jones, Anita Baker, and Sister Sledge.

“Latin jazz is like a great food recipe, and now we can mix in other flavors,” said Sammy Figueroa. “The genre has evolved in the sense that now we mix more styles of music within the Latin structure, like tablas with congas and cajones and so on, and there is more liberty to mix Latin with other melodies.”

Through the years, Figueroa has participated in hundreds of recording album and film score sessions. Often compared to the great Ray Barretto and Mongo Santamaria, two of Figueroa’s albums, ‘And Sammy Walked In’ and ‘The Magician’ received Grammy nominations for Best Latin Jazz Album.

“My new CD will be a different sort of taste all together without leaving my Latin roots,” Figueroa added. “It will have some urban, Latin, jazz, funk and Brazilian, and the title will probably come during the rehearsal process.”

Figueroa’s tours have brought him before audiences across the globe, yet one of his most memorable live performances was during the Hal Leonard series at the Milwaukee Pabst Theater in Wisconsin. “When we received a standing ovation during our intermission, it was the first time ever that a band had received such a standing ovation in that manner,” he expressed.

Aside from traveling the world during concerts, he lends his jazz expertise as the host of one of Miami’s most popular jazz radio programs, “The Sammy Figueroa Show" on Mondays at 11:00 a.m. on WDNA 88.9 FM. Fans worldwide stream his one-hour show online via - Examiner

"Sammy Figueroa & His Latin Jazz Explosion: Urban Nature"

by Edward Blanco

Urban Nature blends elements of modern jazz fusion with percussive Latin jazz rhythms in a highly charged session from master percussionist Sammy Figueroa and his Latin Jazz Explosion. The two previous recordings with this very same group, The Magician (Savant, 2007) and And Sammy Walked In (Savant, 2005), both garnished Grammy nominations for the Best Latin Jazz Album, and this follow-up sizzler deserves no less consideration. The Bronx-born bomber of percussion has long been a leading voice in the world of Latin jazz. Based in Miami since 2001, for this project Figueroa calls on Venezuelan maestros, pianist Silvano Monasterios and bassist Gabriel Vivas to provide the music.

The nine-piece repertoire leads off in explosive manner with the propulsive "Gufillo," featuring the pianist and trumpeter Alexander Pope Norris in support of Figueroa's percussive handiwork. Vivas introduces his own title track, an assertive number highlighting soprano saxophonist John Michalak, with dicey cymbal splashes from drummer Nomar Negroni and more from Monasterios. Pianist Mike Orta and saxophone great Ed Calle, grace the album as special guests on "Latin What?," a swift-paced Latin rhythm original from Orta.

The music withdraws gently on Monasterios' "Zuliana," a soft Latin ballad with voices from the pianist, Figueroa and accompanying Venezuelan percussion from Jose Gregorio Hernandez. The sounds of Salsa come alive on the most overt Latin piece of the album providing lots of shoulder-moving moments on "Cuco y Olga." The band returns to a more natural Latin jazz territory on the melody-rich "Cha Cha Pa' Ti," and delicate "Queen From The South."

Bookending the session with another hard-driving piece, "Funny Talk" ends the album with a pounding performance from Figueroa, propelling another fine set of hot Latin rhythms. When hearing Figueroa's music, comparisons to the great Mongo Santamaria and conguero Ray Barretto, are inevitable. And while a sampling of Urban Nature may serve to further this notion, Figueroa proves to have a distinguishing technique and voice of his own, making him the leading percussionist in Latin jazz today.

Track Listing: Gufillo; Urban Nature; Latin What?; Zuliana; 7th Door To Your Left; Cuco y Olga; Cha Cha Pa' Ti; Queen From The South; Funny Talk.

Personnel: Sammy Figueroa: percussion; Silvano Monasterios: piano; John Michalak: saxophones; Alexander Pope Norris: trumpet; Nomar Negroni: drums; Ed Calle: tenor saxophone (3); Mike Orta: piano (3, 6); Jose Gregorio Hernandez: Venezuelan percussion (4). - All About Jazz

"...And Sammy Walked In"

While Sammy Figueroa has played with a dizzying variety of artists over the past 30 years, from Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis and Jaco Pastorius to Chaka Khan, David Bowie and Mariah Carey, this CD takes the Bronx native and South Florida-living drummer back to his Latin-jazz roots.

Figueroa and his Latin Jazz Explosion burst out of the gate with energy and verve on the opening songo "Syncopa O No," bristling with chops-busting unison lines and fiery solo exchanges from saxophonist John Michalak, trumpeter John Lovell, pianist Michael Orta and electric bassist Nicky Orta. Figueroa adds fire to the proceedings with his precise, rapid-fire conga playing. They conjure an enchanting vibe on the alluring cha cha cha "Nico's Dream" and on a rendition of Hermeto Pascoal's pensive bossa "Bebe."

The title track, Michel Camilo's homage to Figueroa, is a funky boogaloo-son that features an outstanding conga solo by Figueroa. Bassist Orta showcases his Jacoesque facility on the lively "Eugenology" and also turns in a stunning bop-fueled solo on "Mambo Influenciado." Figueroa and company turn in a funkified arrangement of Cedar Walton's classic "Bolivia," and Figueroa offers a rare vocal performance on the lovely and intimate closer, "Duermete Mi Cielito," accompanying himself on a tuned percussion instrument called the hangpan. - Jazz Times


Urban Nature (Senator/Ashe) 2012
The Magician (Savant/Highnote) 2008 Grammy Nomination Best Latin Jazz Album
And Sammy Walked In (Savant/Highnote) 2005  Grammy Nomination Best Latin Jazz Album



Sammy Figueroa advances a bright ideal for Latin jazz.  New York Times

Percussionist SAMMY FIGUEROA, long recognized as one of the music worlds most creative and exciting percussionists, has now embarked upon a solo career that displays his charisma, his musical genius and his legendary sense of humor. Surrounded by five world-class musicians, this extraordinary sextet has already generated a serious following in South Florida, New York City and Puerto Rico.  Not since the era of Ray Barretto and Mongo Santamaria has a Latin jazz band led by a percussionist generated this kind of excitement.

Sammys debut album, And Sammy Walked In (Savant Records), released in June 2005, received a Grammy Nomination for Best Latin Jazz Album and spent fourteen weeks on the national Jazz Week Charts.  Co-produced by Rachel Faro, the albums title track was written by Michel Camilo in Sammys honor and the album features material by masters such as Hermeto Pascual and Chucho Valdes, along with unreleased material by composer Eugene Uman and trumpeter, John Lovell.  

Sammys second album The Magician also received a Grammy Nomination for Best Latin Jazz Album.  The title track and album cover are inspired by The Magician card of the Tarot and the album contains original music by band members Silvano Monasterios and Gabriel Vivas, both Venezuelan, with additional tracks by Mongo Santamaria and Mike Orta.

Sammy and the band have appeared at  many festivals and clubs, including the JVC Jazz Festival, the Detroit Jazz Festival, the Hollywood Jazz Festival, Sunfest, the Puerto Rico Heineken JazzFest, New Yorks Blue Note, Bostons Scullers Jazz Club and many other prominent festivals and venues.

In addition to the music he makes with his band, Sammy is well-known as one of the music worlds most called-upon sideman, his musical versatility displayed on countless hit recordings from Miles Davis to Mariah Carey.  A member of the Brecker Brothers for eleven years, Sammy has also recorded and performed with Sonny Rollins, Herbie Hancock, Charles Mingus, Quincy Jones, George Benson, Chaka Khan, Luther Vandross, Ashford & Simpson, Annie Lennox, Rickie Lee Jones, Art of Noise, Chet Baker, Stanley Clarke, Grover Washington, Jr., John Pattituci, Al Di Meola, Bob Berg, Dave Sanborn, Mike Mainieri, Freddie Hubbard, Jaco Pastorious, Bob Mintzer, Donald Byrd, Al Jarreau, Chico OFarrill, Paquito DRivera, Dave Valentin, Arturo Sandoval, Lena Horne, Mark Murphy, Dave Grusin, Tania Maria, Nestor Torres, Michel Camillo and many, many others. 

 In recent years Sammy has toured with Sonny Rollins, Brazilian superstar Jorge Ben Jor and has just completed an 8 week run as featured artist in The Grammy Experience on the Norwegian Cruise Lines supership, Getaway.  He is currently in the process of composing and recording his fourth album.

Sammy Figueroa endorses Pearl Percussion and Sabian Cymbals.

Band Members