Giovanni Hidalgo | KCC Productions

Giovanni Hidalgo

Artist: Giovanni Hidalgo

Drums: Latin Jazz

Giovanni Hidalgo was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and raised in Santurce where he received his primary education. Giovanni comes from a renowned lineage of musicians, particularly percussionists: his step grandfather Fernando “Nando” Hernández was a musician, his grandmother Luisa Maysonet Marrero,born in Cuba and his father, José Manuel Hidalgo Maysonet “Mañengue”, was a renowned conga player. Hidalgo was raised in a household surrounded by drums, bongos, congas, and timbales. At the age of 3 he started trying out percussion on any surface he could get his hands on. As a young child he practiced and developed his skills on the conga and on other instruments in his house. For his eighth birthday, he received a conga, handmade by his father. Hidalgo would drum a tune with sticks and then play the same tune with his hands. Later on, he started practicing by playing 33rpm records at 78rpm so he could perform at two or three times the speed.

During his formative teen years, Giovanni played with an impressive line-up of the most prominent musicians in the local scene. At 9 years old he was playing with the “PR All Star”, Justo Betancourt’s “Conjunto Borin Cuba”, Papo Pepin and Hatuey. At age 12 he played with the Mario Ortiz Orchestra, with legendary Charlie Palmieri and at age 18 played was playing with Zaperoko.

By this point, Giovanni started being acknowledged worldwide. His percussive skills were enhanced, developed and influenced by the wide range of different styles he played. He developed a transcript style to transfer the drum set rudiments to the tumbadora and for that matter to any percussive instrument. Hidalgo was member/founder of Batacumbele Band in 1980. In 1981, he traveled with the band to Cuba, where he met a musician by the name Changuito, a.k.a. José Luis Quintana. They created a style of rhythm that ushered in a new era in Latin music.

In 1985, Hidalgo was performing with Eddie Palmieri at the Village Gate in New York City when Dizzy Gillespie walked in and listened to him play. Gillespie was so impressed with Hidalgo that he told him that someday in the future they must get together and play. During his career, he has worked among many other renown legends: Bola Abimbola, Sikiru Adepoju, Art Blakey, Muruga Booker, Jack Bruce, Don Byron, Candido Camero, D’Angelo, Paulinho da Costa, Steve Gadd, Sammy Hagar, Kip Hanrahan, Zakir Hussain, Cassius Khan, Airto Moreira, Charlie Palmieri,Tito Puente, Hilton Ruiz, Paul Simon, Carlos “Patato” Valdes, Carlos Santana, and Arturo Sandoval to name a few. Giovanni has an extensive discography with several recordings as leader, and as a sideman.