LONG JOHN OLIVA
Juan Sanchez Oliva born in Havana, Cuba, was raised in the barrio of Belen where he was surrounded by the sounds of traditional Afro-Cuban Rumba. At the age of 3, Juan was already following in the footsteps of his father and Percussion Master Pancho Quinto.
Growing up in the Pancho Quinto Academy was a perk for this young master in training. Between the ages of 3 and 15 he studied with the best Cuba had to offer, greats such as Tata Guines, Chanquito and Pancho Quinto. At 15, while attending the Conservatorio de la Habana Amadeo Roldan, where he discovered the world of Jazz, he was influenced by Jazz greats Charlie Parker, Herbie Hancock and John Coltrane. His love for Jazz was further fueled by the Cuban Jazz Ensemble, Irakere and their conga player, Jorge Alfonso “El Nino”, and band leader, Jesus “Chucho” Valdés. In 1980, Juan left Cuba for New York to pursue his dream as a percussionist, and performed with Orlando Rios Puntilla and Nueva Generacion.
A few years later ventured to Puerto Rico where he performed with Cachete Maldanado and Giovanni Hidalgo in one of the islands most progressive Jazz and dance Ensembles Batacumbele. There he also co-founded one of the first bands to develop the Timba Sound, Zaperoko.
In 1986, Juan came to California and joined the Pan American Band of the late great Latin legend Willie Bobo, who baptized him “Long John” (for his ability to play lengthy conga solos). After Willie Bobo’s passing, Long John’s career only moved forward as he performed with Dizzy Gillespie, Paquito D Rivera, Strunz and Farah, Arturo Sandoval, Jackson Browne, Chick Corea, Anthony Jackson, Dave Weckl, Kenny Loggins, Jane Burnett, and Orishas, to name a few.
From Rumba to Jazz influences in his life, “Long John” had created his own language of the drum and eclectic sound, referring to himself as the “Jazz Rumbero”. His unparalleled energy, grace and style are the result of his traditional training and his love affair with contemporary music.
On June 21st, 2004, Juan “Long John” Oliva passed away in his home, leaving his wife a wealth of music. He and his wife, Peggy Jo had worked together for the last 5 years of his life; creating and shaping the “AC Jazz Project”, his lifelong vision; blending Contemporary Jazz, with Timba and Afro Cuban rhythms and sharing his talents, as a Bandleader, Musician, Teacher and Master Percussionist.
On July 10, 2004 the “AC Jazz Project” was named “2003-2004 Latin Jazz Artists of the Year”, winning the World Famous, “Long Beach Jazz Search", accomplishing a goal that Juan could only dream about.
Today, the AC Jazz Project continues to carry out Long John’s musical legacy, dedicating
their creative talents and continuous hard work to their fellow musician; friend and Brother, Eternally…"LONG JOHN OLIVA"
Many Thanks to all the incredible musicians who have contributed their great talent and efforts to his legacy! This slideshow shows
our appreciation eternally!
“Ibaé Tonú Abure”, which means, “Rest in Peace Brother”.