The percussionist Jack Costanzo was so closely identified with his instrument that early in his career he became known as “Mr. Bongo.” Costanzo died over the weekend at his home near San Diego, California. He was 98. During his long career he worked with Stan Kenton, Nat Cole, Charlie Parker and dozens of other musical stars. He was frequently featured in motion pictures and television programs in duets with celebrities including dancer Ann Miller, singer Judy Garland and actor Marlon Brando—a fellow bongo player who studied with Costanzo.
Video of Costanzo performing seems to be rare, but this one made at an unidentified friend’s birthday party shows him in action. The picture is a bit fuzzy, but the audio is fine. The YouTube caption says, “Check out his left hand independence while playing the bongos and conga drum!”
For an obituary covering Costanzo’s career, see today’s San Diego Union.
Jack Costanzo, RIP