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Mingo Lewis

James "Mingo" Lewis started playing gigs at the age of six with his father, who was friends Max Roach and other Jazz giants.

When Mingo was 12, he became interested in latin music after meeting Pancho Moralez (Conga player for Stevie Wonder). Pancho got Mingo on his first recording session with Kool and the Gang, also their first single (playing bongos). At that time Mingo was studying drums with Max Roach. Through his friends at school, Mingo really got into Afro Cuban Rumba and Salsa music and found his first teacher, Richard Blackwell, who turned him onto Patato (Carlos Valdez) and Los Papines from Cuba. "On Sundays in Central Park, at the fountain on 72nd Street, all the Rumberos would meet up to jam".

A few years later, at age 15, Mingo Lewis auditioned for Santana at Madison Square Garden one night when the percussion section decided to quit and leave the tour. By the next afternoon Mingo was asked to join the band and finish the tour which had just started. Mingo Lewis played with the band from 1970 to 1974 and recorded 3 albums all listed in his discography.

Mingo was soon turned onto Return to Forever, Chick Corea's new group, by the drummer Lenny White, who also played with Azteca, a bay area band. Mingo was asked to sit in with Chick at the Keystone Corner in San Francisco, not knowing it was an audition. A month later Chick called Mingo and asked him to join the group. The line-up was Chick Corea, Stanley Clark, Bill Conners, Mingo Lewis and Steve Gadd. Mingo feels this is where most of his real skills and education came from. Mingo recorded one album with Return to Forever.

Mingo started teaching at Sonoma Music Arts School in June of 2011 and is currently accepting drum kit and hand percussion students of all ages and all levels of expertise. Whether you are a young beginner, or a seasoned pro, you will find that Mingo's experience, personality and musicality will enrich your life.

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