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Jose Mangual, Sr.
1924-1998

Machito.jpe

St. Peter's Church was filled with family, friends and admirers of José.

 

José Mangual, Sr., was one of the most prolific percussionists in Latin music. His discographyruns the gamut from Mario Bauza to Miles Davis. José Mangual, Sr., was a friend and mentor to many musicians. He had a look--a body language, a way of leaning forward that was completely peculiar to him. I owe a great deal to him for the inspiration he gave me as I watched him master his instrument. I saw in Mangual what I wanted to have, a complete mastery of the instrument and the music.

In 1956, while I was still going to college and was just short of my eighteenth birthday, I say José Mangual play for the first time. It was a Monday night jam session at New York City's Birdland. Mangual was part of an all-star lineup that included Uba Nieto on timbales, Candido on conga, Chino Pozo on various percussion instruments, and Frank Wess and Herbie Mann of flutes. I should have been studying calculus, but the thought of that music was just too compelling. The sight of Mangual getting so much sound and fury out of those small bongos made quite an impression on me.

Having finished my schooling, I went to buy myself a pair of bongos just like Mangual's. I found that they were no longer available. The US blockade of Cuba had put an end to the importation of these find instruments. When I left the last of the music stores on 48th Street, I had already resolved to build my own pair.

Jose Mangual at my birthday party, 1998

 

I took solid blocks of mahogany and made drawings for the metal parts. These I sent to be made in the shop at the Bendix Corporation, where I was employed in my first engineering job. The intensity of my "quest for the bongos" set the course for the founding of Latin Percussion My endeavors were based on the principle of persistence, of not taking "no" for an answer.

The first opportunity I had to work with Mangual was in 1974. I was producing a recording that features Patato, Mangual, Manny Oquendo, and Milton Cardona. This project, "Understanding Latin Rhythms, Vol. 1," was my first recording.In 1977 I produced a wonderful recording for Mangual called "Buyu," which included Tito Puente, Patato, and other great players. Mangual was disappointed, however, that the record never reached a wider market.

In October 1997 José Mangual developed cancer of the throat and he underwent a form of surgery that deprived him of his voice. On September 24, 1998, Jose Mangual passed on. He died at home, in the Lennox Terrace apartment where he had lived for over thirty years.

Mangual has appeared on many albums--by Willie Bobo, Willie Colon, Gato Barbieri, and Mile Davis, including the recording "Sketches of Spain."

 

 

Jose Mangual's Memorial Service

It is with great sadness that I have to report the passing on Sept. 24, 1998 of one of the most important people in my life, José Mangual, Sr. at the age of 74. He was one of the two greatest bongo players that ever lived and a great human being. If it weren't for him, I doubt if I would be in the percussion business.

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José Mangual, Jr. and Felipe Luciano

 

José Mangual's daughters, Carmen, Sandy and Fifi

 

DuranDuo.jpe

Musical duo tribute led by trumpet player, Manny Duran

 

Leopoldo Fleming, Sr. and Jr.

 

Vincent Livelli

 

Ray Barretto and Johnny Pacheco. Ray recalled how Mangual was always supportive of Ray's efforts to ascend to the ranks of world class percussionist.

Johnny Pacheco and Eddie Montalvo

 

José Mangual, Jr.

 

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I was glad I had a chance to express my gratitude for having known José.

 

Hector Rivera, Leopoldo Fleming, Rudy Romero
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José Mangual's sister Gloria and Eddie Montalvo.

 

Felipe Luciano

 

Carol Steele

 

Bennie Bonilla

 

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Luis Mangual

 

Mambo dance legend, Luis "Maquina" Flores

 

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Trumpet player Manny Duran

Mario Grillo, the son of the great Machito, led his band in tribute to Mangual, the master who performed with his father.

 

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After the memorial service we gathered for some
Chinese food and reminiscing. Bobby Allende, Ralphie Irizarry,
myself, Eddie Montalvo, Felipe Luciano,
Montalvo's son Jon Paul and Marc Quiñones.
   
   
   
   

 

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