Throughout the 1940s, Costanzo worked with several Latin bands, including a revived version of the Lecuona Cuban Boys, Desi Arnaz, and Rene Touzet. Costanzo toured with Stan Kenton from 1947–48 and occasionally in the 1950s, and played with Nat King Cole from 1949 to 1953. He also played with the Billy May Orchestra, Peggy Lee, Danny Kaye, Perez Prado, Charlie Barnet, Pete Rugolo, Betty Grable, Harry James, Judy Garland, Patti Page, Jane Powell, Ray Anthony, Martin & Lewis, Frances Faye, Dinah Shore, Xavier Cugat, Frank Sinatra, Tony Curtis, and Eddie Fisher. Costanzo formed his own band in the 1950s which recorded and toured internationally. Many Hollywood stars studied bongos with him, including: Marlon Brando, Rita Moreno, Carolyn Jones, Hugh O'Brian, Keenan Wynn, Van Johnson, Tony Curtis, Betty Grable, Vic Damone, and Gary Cooper. Costanzo was in retirement until 1998 when he decided to make a comeback and in 2001 recorded Back From Havana under the Ubiquity Records umbrella. This album featured the likes of Black Note's Gilbert Castellanos, Steve Firerobing and the Panamanian singer Marilu.
In 2002 he released another album with the same cast called Scorching the skins this time he also added Quino from Big Mountain. Costanzo has continued to tour and perform in California and abroad. Costanzo died of complications from an aneurysm at his home in Lakeside, California on August 18, 2018, aged 98. Discography Albums Bongo Cha-Cha-Cha!, (Golden Tone) C 4061 King of the Bongos Bongo Fever, (Sunset) SUS-5134 Afro Can Can, (Liberty) LRP-3137 Learn–Play Bongos, Liberty LRP-3177 Jack Costanzo and His Afro Cuban Band, GNP Crescendo GNP-19 Vivo Tirado, GNP Crescendo GNPS 2057 Mr. Bongo Afro Cuban Band, (Palladium) PLP 126 1949: Nat King Cole & His Trio - The Forgotten 1949 Carnegie Hall Concert, Hep 2010 CD 1954: Afro Cuban Jazz North-of-the-Border 1954: Afro-Cubano 1958: Latin Fever, Liberty LRP-3093 1950's: Mr. Bongo Has Brass, (Zephyr) 12003 1950's: Mr.
Bongo Plays Hi-Fi Cha Cha, (Tops) 1564 1950's: Naked City & Other Themes, Liberty LST-7195 2001: Back from Havana 2002: Scorching the Skins 2003: Latin Percussion with Soul 2005: Versatile Mr. Bongo Plays Jazz, Afro and Latin Selected singles A: "Mambo Costanzo" B: "Mr. Bongo" 1954 A: "Barracuda" B: "I Got A Bongo" 1959 A: "Viva Tirado" B: "Guantanamera" With Stan Kenton Stan Kenton's Milestones (Capitol, 1943–47 ) Stan Kenton Classics (Capitol, 1944–47 ) Encores (Capitol, 1947) A Presentation of Progressive Jazz (Capitol, 1947) The Kenton Era (Capitol, 1940–54, ) Kenton with Voices (Capitol, 1957) With Art Pepper and Conte Candoli Mucho Calor (Andex, 1957) With Pete Rugolo Rugolomania (Columbia, 1955) New Sounds by Pete Rugolo (Harmony, 1954–55, ) Percussion at Work (EmArcy, 1957) Jack Costanzo is known and responsible for the popularity of the bongos all over the world. He introduced bongos into American music when he was with the famous Stan Kenton Band, which shot him to jazz fame overnight.
Jack recorded with Stan such favorites as The Peanut Vendor, Bongo Riff, Cuban Carnival and about fifty other recordings. He was also featured at the famous Carnegie Hall with Stan Kenton in concert, which broke all attendance records. Jack next joined the late great Nat King Cole which caused the King Cole Trio to be changed to Nat King Cole and the Trio, featuring Jack Costanzo. Jack recorded on many of King Cole's hits, including Calypso Blues, Lover Come Back To Me, Lush Life, Alakazam and Yes Sir That's My Baby. Jack stayed with Nat almost five years, appearing all over the world, including the world famous Palladium.
They also did The Ed Sullivan Show three times, Jack was featured on each show. After Nat King Cole, Jack joined Peggy Lee and was prominently showcased by Miss Lee in her act throughout the country. Jack Costanzo also worked and was featured with Betty Grable and Harry James, Judy Garland, Jane Powell, Ray Anthony, Martin & Lewis, and the never to be forgotten record breaking engagement at the Hollywood Interlude and Crescendo with the frantic Frances Faye, who featured Jack throughout her whole act, giving him ample opportunities to play wild bongos. Mr. Bongo finally started his own band from which he opened a whole new era for himself. He appeared with Dinah Shore as a featured artist at least seven times, the year Dinah Shore's Show won every award there was to win in a musical category.
Jack also appeared with Marlon Brando on the Edward R. Murrow Show three days after Marlon won his first Academy Award Oscar, for On The Water Front. Recording offers started coming in, and Jack recorded his first album for Crescendo Records called Jack Costanzo (Mr. Bongo) And His Afro Cuban Band, (which has been re-released recently on a CD) Jack then signed with Liberty Records and did seven great albums for them. Leonard Feather, the late famous jazz critic named Costanzo "Mr. Bongo".
Jack Costanzo has appeared as an actor and musician in many motion pictures. To name a few, Jerry Lewis - Visitor to a Small Planet and The Delicate Delinquent. Danny Kaye's - Man From the Diners Club. Red Skelton's - Stool Pigeon Number 1.
Pat Boone's - Bernadine. The Satin Bug. Costanzo's last movie was a picture called Harem Scarum staring Elvis Presley, featuring Jack musically and as an actor throughout the whole picture. Mr. Bongo's television appearances number so many that we can only name a few.
The Hollywood Special on Jazz, The Hollywood Special on Latin and It's Influence on Jazz, The Art Linkletter Show, during which Jack did a five minute solo coast to coast. He also was highlighted with Ann Miller on the Dinah Shore Chevy T.V. Show, which received rave notices. They later appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Jack appeared with his own show, featuring Gerrie Woo, at the famous Sands and Tropicana hotels in Las Vegas. They also did a Far East tour ending at the El San Juan Hotel in Puerto Rico. Mr. Bongo's fans, some of which studied bongos with him, reads like a Who's Who in Hollywood. They include: Marlon Brando, Rita Moreno, Carolyn Jones, Hugh O'Brien, Keenan Wynn, Van Johnson, Tony Curtis, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Betty Grable, Vic Darnone, and the most unlikely Gary Cooper, who was one of Jack's most avid pupils. Jack Costanzo is one of the world's greatest percussionists on Bongos & Conga Drums!!! Read more on Last.fm.
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