John Santos Sextet Kicks Off American Sabor Exhibition

American Sabor on view in the Skylight Gallery, Main Library, Aug. 27-Nov. 13

For Immediate Release
Contact: Michelle Jeffers
(415) 557-4282;

August 17, 2011

John Santos Sextet Kicks Off San Francisco Public Library’s American Sabor exhibition

American Sabor: Latinos in U.S. Popular Music, on view in the Skylight Gallery, Main Library, Aug. 27-Nov. 13

John Santos
Photo credit: Dennis Scherzer
courtesy of
Five-time Grammy nominee and U.S. Artists Fontanals Fellow, John Santos, and his stellar Sextet will perform at the opening program Aug. 27, for San Francisco Public Library’s exciting exhibition, American Sabor: Latinos in U.S. Popular Music. The opening performance kicks off at 3 p.m. in the Koret Auditorium, San Francisco Main Library, 100 Larkin St., San Francisco.

Providing an ideal complement to the themes of the exhibition, Santos will provide educational insights on the historical and cultural significance of Latin Jazz, as well as its aesthetic characteristics pertaining to instrumentation, rhythm, interpretation and improvisation. Chelis López of KPOO radio station, will serve as the program emcee.

The exhibition, American Sabor: Latinos in U.S. Popular Music, was developed by the Experience Music Project and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES).  It will be on view in the Main Library’s Skylight Gallery, Aug. 27-Nov. 13, and presents the musical contributions of U.S. Latinos from the 1940s to the present, exploring the social history and individual creativity that produced stars like Tito Puente, Ritchie Valens, Celia Cruz, Carlos Santana and Selena.

“The impact of Latino musicians on American popular music moves beyond the unmistakable rhythms and dance,” said Anna R. Cohn, director of SITES. “We’re thrilled to bring ‘American Sabor’ to San Francisco—a city with a vibrant Latino community whose artistry energizes every part of the American experience.”

The exhibition travels to 12 cities through 2015. The exhibition, its national tour and related programs are made possible by Ford Motor Company Fund.

“At Ford, we believe that art and culture are powerful educational tools that enrich lives and help build communities,” said Jim Vella, president, Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services. “We are proud to support American Sabor and the exciting community events, educational programs and family activities developed by the San Francisco Public Library that will truly extend the reach of the exhibit.”

The exhibition focuses on five major centers of Latino popular music production—New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, San Antonio and San Francisco—that represent the remarkable diversity of this music. Each city section explores the broader histories and cultures that created the music from those areas, including how the musical innovations of Latino youths crossed ethnic and racial boundaries and helped shape American popular music, how immigration and migration influenced Latino and U.S. popular music, and the ways in which Latinos have musically expressed their experiences as Americans.

The opening performance with John Santos ties in perfectly to the exhibition. Santos is one of the foremost exponents of Afro-Latin music in the world today. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in the Puerto Rican and Cape Verdean traditions of his family, surrounded by music. The fertile musical environment of the San Francisco Bay Area shaped his career in a unique way. He is known for his innovative use of traditional forms and instruments in combination with contemporary music. Santos has worked with acknowledged multi-generational masters such as Cachao, Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Bebo Valdés, Max Roach, Carlos Santana and many others. He’s been a prolific performer, composer, radio programmer and record/event producer whose career has spanned over 35 years. He is widely respected as one of the top writers, teachers and historians in the field and was a member of the Latin Jazz Advisory Committee of the Smithsonian Institution. He is currently part of the faculty at the Jazz School Institute in Berkeley and the College of San Mateo.

The exhibition, American Sabor, will feature dynamic bilingual (English and Spanish) text panels, striking graphics and photographs, and compelling listening stations and films and will celebrate the true flavor of Latin music in the United States.

The exhibition is complemented by an interactive website——that includes expanded exhibition content, historic photographs, lesson plans, video oral histories from Latin music stars, a jukebox featuring a special “American Sabor” playlist and a mixing-board interactive activity.

The exhibition and related programs coincide with Hispanic Heritage Month commemorative activities in the fall.  For a full list of San Francisco Public Library’s related programs, please visit

Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES)

SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for almost 60 years.  SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play. Exhibition descriptions and tour schedules are available at

Experience Music Project

EMP is dedicated to the exploration of creativity and innovation in popular music. By blending interpretive, interactive exhibitions with cutting-edge technology, EMP captures and reflects the essence of rock ’n’ roll, its roots in jazz, soul, gospel, country and the blues, as well as rock’s influence on hip-hop, punk and other recent genres. Visitors can view rare artifacts and memorabilia and experience the creative process by listening to musicians tell their stories.

Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services

Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services works with community partners to advance driving safety, education and American heritage and community life. The Ford Motor Company Fund has operated for more than 60 years with ongoing funding from Ford Motor Company. For more information, visit

Note to Editors: Photographs and images of American Sabor exhibition available upon request.

Take our survey