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New documentary film about Bay Area Latin jazz icon John Santos debuts at SXSW

A man in a off-white fedora plays conga drums.
John Santos Music
John Santos in concert, August 2013

Ten years in the making, the film "Santos — Skin to Skin" celebrates the life and work of percussion master, educator and community activist John Santos.

A highly respected teacher and historian of Latin jazz, seven-time Grammy nominee John Santos is acknowledged as a “keeper of the Afro-Caribbean flame,” using music to navigate the politics of culture, global migration and his Puerto Rican and Cape Verdean heritage.

"Santos — Skin to Skin" is directed, produced and edited by Kathryn Golden, a founding partner of Searchlight Films.

The documentary is a portrait of an artist who juggles the daily challenges of life: supporting family, creating art and the quest to propel Afro-Caribbean culture onto the world stage.


"Santos — Skin to Skin" debuts at the South By Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival, showing March 12-19 in theaters in Austin, Texas.

The film will be available to stream online from SXSW March 13-15, but you must purchase the festival's entire online film package; no individual films are offered.

Listen for "Tichin" and "Tumbao de Corazon" from the John Santos Sextet album The Art of the Descarga this week on Saturday's Jazz Caliente.

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Originally from Detroit, Robin Lloyd has been presenting jazz, blues and Latin jazz on public radio for nearly 40 years. She's a member of the Jazz Education Network and the Jazz Journalists Association.