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!

Support The Last Mambo

I am Rita Hargrave, the Director and Executive Producer of The Last Mambo, a documentary which explores the Salsa/Latin Jazz community in the San Francisco Bay area from the diverse perspectives of dancers, DJs and musicians. The film traces the 60+ year evolution of the West Coast Latin sound, a potent gumbo of Afrocuban rhythms, jazz harmonies and funk infused grooves. The documentary highlights the cultural, economic and social forces that impact this artistic community and shape the future of the art form. “The Last Mambo” comes alive with interviews, archival material, photographs and concert footage that capture the pulse of this creative collective. Some of the compelling people included in this film are:

JOHN SANTOS: 5-time Grammy nominated percussionist, bandleader, composer and educator

CHATA GUITIERREZ: DJ and host of “En Clave” a weekly Salsa radio show broadcast on KPOO 89.5FM in San Francisco

REBECA MAULEON: Grammy nominated producer, musician, composer and  director of education for the San Francisco Jazz Society

LOUIS MEDINA: DJ and musical director of KPFA 98.1 FM radio and host of "Sabor" a weekly Salsa radio show

EDGARDO CAMBON: percussionist, vocalist, songwriter, bandleader

WAYNE WALLACE: 5- time Grammy nominee, trombonist, composer, bandleader

RAMON RAMOS: Dancer, teacher, choreographer

FRANCESCA RIVERA Ph.D.: Assistant. professor of ethnomusicology at University of San Francisco

HERMAN BOSSETT: dancer, producer and historian

KARL PERAZZO: Percussionist, bandleader

JOSE FRACISCO BARROSO: Cuban folklorist, dancer, choreographer

The film, shot and acquired in High Definition Video, comes alive with a score by Wayne Wallace and a host of other Bay Area musicians.  The film's four chapters draw you into the magical whirlwind of clubs, festivals, ballrooms and music schools that pump our a steady stream of danceable Afro-Caribbean music.

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 trailer for The Last Mambo won the Grand Festival Prize at the 2011 Berkeley Film and Video Festival, hosted by East Bay Media Center. The trailer was screened on October 1, 2011 at the Landmark Shattuck Cinema in Downtown Berkeley. The 60 minute version (consisting of 53:25 minutes of final programming, allowing for 6:75 minutes of enhanced underwriting for PBS and network TV) will premiere in 2015.

The Last Mambo inspired two double disc music anthologies, Salsa de la Bahia vol 1. and vol 2.

The Last Mambo is being produced by East Bay Media Center; also the Fiscal Agent for the project. All equipment, editing, lighting, production and post production is being executed by East Bay Media Center and its facilities under the direction of Paul Kealoha Blake.  Mr. Blake is providing all videographic and editing services. Wayne Wallace, our musical director, is cooking up a sizzling soundtrack that will make this musical adventure swing.

The iconic logo for The Last Mambo was designed by award winning artist Paul Goodnight.  Dazzling images by gifted photographers; Hazel Hankin, Tom Ehrlich, Hal Aigner help bring the story to life.

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.

Donate Now

Rita Hargrave
Director of The Last Mambo