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He is best known for being the composer of the jazz standard “Afro Blue”, recorded by John Coltrane among others. In 1950 he moved to New York where he became an integral figure in the fusion of Afro-Cuban rhythms with R&B and soul, paving the way for the boogaloo era of the late 1960s. Santamaría was one of a handful of Cuban congueros (‘conga players’) who came to the United States in the 1940s and ‘50s.
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