The Last Mambo

The Last Mambo Community Screening Event
Join us October 18, 8pm at the California Jazz Conservatory for a special community screening event!


                                                                                                                                                                     Traditional Charanga Painting

                                                                                                                                                                     Traditional Charanga Painting

The Last Mambo is a one-hour documentary that explores the unique heritage of the San Francisco Bay Area Salsa and Latin Jazz community. The Last Mambo profiles how this network of dancers, musicians and DJs have both created innovative approaches to  Afro-Cuban based music and transformed it into a social movement dedicated to integration, cultural preservation and education.

The film features musicians, dancers, community participants members, and venues that have been integral to the evolution of San Francisco Bay Area Salsa music and dance, and to sustaining this flourishing community.  Each of the five sections of the film will focus on people instrumental to the topics being covered, with overall commentary provided by Herman Bossett and Jesse “Chuy” Varela.  Herman Bossett, of African American and Cuban ancestry is a Bay area native.  His 60+ years of experience as a dancer, music producer, educator, and community historian will contextualize the social and cultural changes which have shaped the trajectory of the San Francisco Bay Area salsa community. Chuy Varela is a freelance writer, music historian and music director of the public radio station KCSM 91.1 FM.  For over 20 years he has hosted “The Latin Jazz Show” a weekly four-hour radio broadcast which showcases vintage and current Afro-Latino music. He has conducted extensive research on Cal Trader and Carlos Federico, two early Bay Area Latin music pioneers whose impact will be explored. Musicians from popular salsa  and Latin Jazz bands (e.g. Avance, Edgardo Cambon Y Candela, Anthony Blea Y Su Charanga, The John Santos Sextet and Mazacote) will provide authenticity and context about   the development of Latin Music education programs in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Interviews with DJs, dance instructors and social dancers will articulate the sentiments of the creators and attendees of the major events that consistently bring the community together in celebration.

The Last Mambo Unfolds in Five Chapters

Chapter I — From the Homefront
Chapter 1 highlights how after WWII the growth of California’s Latino community inspired Merced Gallegos to launch the Bay Area Latin music scene at Oakland’s Sweets Ballroom. His Sunday afternoon dance parties known as tardeadas both brought together a culturally diverse community and introduced the Bay Area to top notch Afro-Caribbean entertainers from the U.S. and Latin America.

Chapter II – Mambo Sessions
Mambo Sessions profiles how the 1950’s national fascination with Mambo inspired West Coast music pioneers Cal Tjader  and Carlos Federico (Panamanian born) to gave birth to fearless blends of  Afro-Cuban percussion and jazz styling. Tjader’s  Modern Mambo Quintet and Federico and his Panamanians created cutting edge sounds that  brought together people of all ethnicities and nurtured a communal experience and  atmosphere of social connectedness that flowed between musicians and their audiences.

Chapter III — Cesar Rules
Cesar rules  profiles the era of 1960-1980’s’s when Cesar’s Latin Palace was  the mecca  for  Bay Area Latin bands  as well as nationally known icons such as  Eddie Palmieri, Ray Barreto,Tito Puente and Celia Cruz. This period also marked the emergence of Mission Cultural Center in San Francisco and La Pena in Oakland, vibrant community centers which  provided workshops, classes and performance spaces. Teacher/performers like Carlos Federico and John Santos provided their audiences with lectures about the social and historical background of Afro-Caribbean music and expanded their understanding and appreciation of the art form.

Chapter IV — Salsa Explosion
Salsa explosion profiles the 1980’s-2000 period and focuses on  how the hard driving dance grooves of bands lead by veterans like Benny Velarde and Pete Escovedo, the influx of Cuban musicians and dancers helped expand the salsa community. Bay Area salsa clubs, ballrooms and dance studios became vibrant sources of popular dances styles (mambo, salsa, rueda) but also folkloric Afro-Cuban music styles.

Chapter V — Millennium Salsa
Millennium Salsa profiles community from 2000 forward and  highlights how even though the nightclub Salsa scene waxes and wanes  pivotal people keep pumping life into the scene. This segment illuminates how music education and outreach are key to building community and insuring the future of the art from.

Six time Grammy nominee John Santos reflects. “There’s a lot of young people, people of different ages that have taken an interest in the history of the music, what it means to our community, and that how it relates to other music and communities.  That is a real foundation and root that can be built on..  I think that’s one of the reasons that has supported the scene to be as rich as it is in terms of artistic availability and artistic creativity.’


The salsa and Latin jazz community in the San Francisco Bay Area was created and experienced by participants from diverse cultural and artistic backgrounds.  This segment highlights how the unique cultural/ethnic backgrounds of San Francisco Bay Area dancers, musicians and DJ’s and shape their artistic approach to salsa.  The community’s bands draw inspiration from New York-style salsa, funk, jazz and folkloric and popular music genres from Cuba, Puerto Rico, Peru and Uruguay.  San Francisco Bay Area dancers pepper their salsa patterns with touches of hustle, lindy hop, tango, hip hop and Afro-Cuban folkloric dances.

The Last Mambo is celebration of Salsa/Latin Jazz as a dynamic source for information, creativity and community building. This is a rare opportunity for you to learn about Afro-cuban musical legends, honor their legacy and play a vital role in the making of this thought provoking, entertaining film.

Your tax-deductible gifts will pay for post-production and make this film project a reality.  We can raise the money that we need with the help of supporters like you.

Join "The Last Mambo" gang and connect with the passionate community that loves Afro-Cuban music and dance.  I know you will enjoy seeing” The Last Mambo” as much as I have enjoyed making it.