Sabu, from Safari with Sabu

Sabu Martinez


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Groove to the Almeflo brothers' MIDI-conga tribute, "Tambo" -- inspired by Sabu!

Biography__ Interviews__ Obituary

Discography (at Hyp Records/Vinyl Safari)

Conguero #1!

Born in New York, Sabu was recognized as a virtuoso percussionist at a young age. Playing for the major Latin and be-bop names as a teenager, it was not long before he teamed up with Art Blakey and created astounding African and Afro-Latin jazz. With his own group he recorded the two wildest "exotica" records ever. Next he joined Louie Ramirez to create a masterpiece of modern Latin jazz, and he continued working for great stars in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Eventually he moved to Sweden, where he led a conga school, resumed making records, and contributed to top Latin, big band, pop, jazz, fusion, and funk groups. Discover Sabu Martinez, percussionist extraordinaire -- El Unico!

Sabu disciple Per Arne Almeflo tells us:

"Sabu produced the most elegant and musical conga rhythms I have ever heard. The word I think of is just plain beautiful. His favorite expression was 'groovy.' I had the privilige of taking conga lessons from him about 1970 to 1975 (up to a reasonable amateur level) and also played the tumba on Afro Temple.

"He was left-handed. This came in handy when teaching conga rhythm patterns, since you could sit face-to-face and see a mirror image of how to move the hands. He placed his drums in a manner I have not seen otherwise. The quinto was in the middle, the conga to the left (left-handed, remember) and the tumba to the right. If you analyze some of the solos, you will see that they would be hard to play in another way. They would be hard to play anyway, admittedly. On some recordings he used five congas to produce fantastic rhythms -- not just scales going up and down."


Thanks to all who have helped with information and records:

  • Per Arne Almeflo, Sonic Design
  • George Bonilla, Lazarus Audio Products
  • Ingemar Breithel
  • Marcos Canihuante, Editor, Ache Newsletter
  • Dusty Groove records
  • Tom Engle, Deep Groove records
  • Fib-Aktuellt magazine
  • Okamato Masashi
  • Alan Rutberg
  • Magnus Sandberg
  • Lars Westin, Editor, Orkester Journalen
  • Robert Widegård

Sabu Info Wanted

Please tell us any Sabu anecdotes or new release information. If it's about Sabu, it's got to be "groovy."

Biography__ Interviews__ Obituary

Discography (at Hyp Records/Vinyl Safari)

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