A premier percussionist and one of the few to emphasize bongos over congas, Jack Costanzo taught himself both bongos and congas, and made three visits to Havana in the '40s to learn Afro-Cuban rhythms.
He toured and performed with Stan Kenton in 1947 and 1948, then worked with Nat King Cole from 1949 to 1953. Costanzo continued to periodically play with both Cole and Kenton through the '50s, working with Kenton until 1957 while also heading out his own. This group recorded in 1954 and 1957, later touring London in 1961.
Costanzo also worked in the '50s with Peggy Lee, Pérez Prado, Harry James, Charlie Barnet, and Pete Rugolo. Costanzo kept a relatively low profile during the latter decades of the 20th century, but made a comeback in the late '90s.
His return-to-form album Back from Havana was released in 2001 followed by Scorching the Skins in 2002 (both on Cubop Records). Chicken and Rice was issued by GNP/Crescendo in 2006.