Giovanni Hidalgo congas, and percussion (Born 1963)
Giovanni Hidalgo is the most highly sought after conga player on the planet. He has recorded, played and toured with most of the top musicians in the Latin, and jazz realms. His mastery on the congas is unrivaled, and he is in a class by himself.
Giovanni was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1963, into a family of well known conga payers. His grandfather played, and his father was Mañengue Hidalgo, who was in the band of Richie Ray and Bobby Cruz during the golden age of salsa. Giovanni was surrounded by percussion instruments his whole life, and started to play on everything as a small child. By age eight his father made him a small conga out of a barrel which he played on continually. He picked up the nickname Mañeguito, as he was always around musicians especially percussionists. His talents continued to develop as he grew older and by his teen years was quite good.
While still in his teens, he sat in on a practice of the band Batacumbele, which was directed by local percussion master Angel “Cachete” Maldonado. After what turned out to be a three day drumming marathon, he was in the band, he has never stopped since. He would record several albums with Batacumbele (which means “to kneel before the drum” in Yoruba) in the early ‘80’s. These records are still referred to and respected in Puerto Rico as a very innovative band with a strong Afro-Latin sound.