Campus News


Grammy Nominated Latin Jazz Group, Mongorama, Performs Cuban Charanga Rhythms

Grammy Nominated Latin Jazz Group, Mongorama, Performs Cuban Charanga Rhythms at Soka Performing Arts Center


Aliso Viejo, CA – Making their premiere Soka appearance, José Rizo’s Mongorama performs at Soka Performing Arts Center on Friday, April 28, 2017, at 8 p.m. Single tickets are $35 for adults; and $29 for students, seniors and active military families. Tickets for groups of 10 or more are $28 each. Purchase tickets online at or by calling 949-480-4ART (4278).

Mongorama is a nine-piece Latin jazz ensemble formed by KJazz 88.1 radio personality José Rizo, host of “Jazz on the Latin Side.” The ensemble explores the early Mongo Santamaria charanga-jazz material of the 1950s and early 1960s. Mongorama features tenor saxophonist Justo Almario and flautist Danilo Lozano, violinist Dayren Santamaria (no relation to Mongo Santamaria), lead vocalist James Zavaleta, timbale player Ramon Banda, conga player Joey De Leon, percussionist and vocalist Alfredo Ortiz, bassist Rene Camacho and pianist Joe Rotondi.

Performing an exciting Latin jazz sound driven by Cuban charanga rhythms and straight-ahead jazz, Mongorama celebrates the music of Conga legend Mongo Santamaria, saxophonist Chombo Silva and flautist Rolando Lozano by preserving the classic charanga-jazz element and refreshing it with a modern perspective. Last year, Mongorama was invited to play at Havana International Jazz Plaza Festival in Cuba. The debut self-titled “Mongorama” album (on Saungu Records) received a Grammy nomination in 2011. The album includes special guests Hubert Laws and Poncho Sanchez performing early Mongo Santamaria material, freshly arranged by Oscar Hernandez and Francisco Torres. Their latest album, “Baila Que Baila,” again features conguero Poncho Sanchez and guitarist Kenny Burrell, performing on one of his classic compositions.

Rizo was born in Guadelajara, Mexico and raised in Oxnard, California. He played trumpet in high school, but it was not until he was a student at UC Santa Barbara that he developed his passion for jazz. In the late 1970s, Rizo was the founder of “Radio Chicano,” a student and community broadcasting organization based on the Santa Barbara campus at KCSB, where he served as program director for two years. Rizo began hosting “Jazz on the Latin Side” on KLON (now KJazz) on January 6, 1990.