BEST JAZZ ARTIST - 2003
Beginning his love affair with percussion at the seemingly late age of eighteen didn't set Sammy Figueroa back one bit. His unshakable sense of tempo and astounding ability to improvise clearly indicated that playing percussive instruments was his destiny. He would go on to perform with an eclectic roster of musical superstars including Miles Davis, Chet Baker, David Bowie, Marc Anthony, Mariah Carey, and Celine Dion. With partner Rachel Faro, he'd produce records for Cuban a cappella group Vocal Sampling and Puerto Rican cuatro player Yomo Toro. A onetime resident of California and New York, Figueroa packed up his congas and his stellar credentials to live in South Florida two years ago. He's been making his rhythmic presence known ever since, sitting in with the occasional jazz combo, showing up from time to time alongside young hipsters like DJ Le Spam and the Spam Allstars, and accompanying gal vocalists such as Nicole Henry and Rose Max. Recently the combustible conguero formed the appropriately named Latin Jazz Explosion featuring Carlos Averhoff, Grammy Award winner and nineteen-year veteran of Cuban fusion band Irakere, on saxophone along with Mike Orta on piano, Nick Orta on bass, and Goetz "Santiago" Kujack on drums. The Explosion may just blast itself right out of South Florida, so enjoy the beat master while he's still ours.
Readers Choice: Mumbo Jumbo