"An artist some describe as "touched by the hand of God," conguero Giovanni Hidalgo plays a major role in shaping the way the world thinks of hand drumming. With legendary percussionists Tito Puente, Armando Peraza, Patato and the late Jossa Mangual, Sr. topping the list of his most ardent fans, Giovanni and his natural talent are bringing new respect to Latin rhythms as well as to the rhythms of his birthplace, Puerto Rico.
A true living legend, Giovanni Hidalgo is one of the most talented and respected Conga and Timbale players in the world. His technique has to be seen to be believed. Widely acknowledged among the greatest congueros of his generation, Giovanni Hidalgo was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1963 and took up the drums five years later. The son of noted percussionist Jose "Manengue" Hidalgo, he was educated in Latin rhythms from childhood onward, and as a teen regularly walked to local gigs with his congas strapped to his back. He soon caught the attention of the legendary Dizzy Gillespie, touring in his United Nations All-Star Orchestra for four years. Hidalgo has become a noted session player, recording with Freddie Hubbard, Paul Simon and Mickey Hart's Planet Drum project. In 1992, he recorded his debut solo LP, Villa Hidalgo; Worldwide followed a year later, and for 1997's Hands of Rhythm, collaboration with pianist Michel Camilo, Hidalgo earned a Grammy nomination in the Best Latin Jazz Album category. His Greatest Hits collection followed the next year.
Giovanni prides himself on being a man of all music, having performed with musicians ranging from Zakir Hussain to Airto Moreira. He has toured with jazz great Art Blakey and continues to tour with Mickey Hart's Planet Drum. For several years he was a member of the Dizzy Gillespie United Nations Jazz Orchestra.
"I consider these artists my inspirations, rather than my idols," says Giovanni. "I don't imitate anyone's style. I do let myself be guided by those artists I admire. It is myself that I have to answer to." The result is an original, creative drumming style that, in turn, makes Giovanni an inspiration to drummers of all levels.
The sounds other drummers normally create with sticks, Giovanni creates with his hands with lightning-fast precision. Others particularly admire him for his perfection of double and triple stroke rolls, effortlessly implementing drumset stick rudiments with his hands.
"Zildjians are just...THE best!"