Steve Thornton

Steve Thornton

Master : Percussion
Groups : Latin Percussion
Spoken Language : English
Lessons via : Face-to-face

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Steve is the second youngest of fourteen children. At the tender age of seven, Steve heard Mongo Santamaria playing Herbie Hancock’s “Watermelon Man”. He was so inspired by the legendary drummer that he taught himself to play the congas by listening to the album over and over again.

In 1968, Steve formed his first group, THE YOUNG EXPLOSIVES, a 4 piece Latinjazz ensemble. They performed on local television station Channel 5’s “Inside Bedford-Stuyvesant” , appeared in school talent shows and at the Apollo Theatre.

In 1969, Steve met Mongo Santamaria at Club Beacon on 111 Street and Lennox Avenue. When he told Mongo how much he admired him, Mongo challenged Steve to play congas with his band. When fifteen year old Steve started wailing away on three congas, Mongo got so excited he sat with him and they played out the entire set together. For Steve, it was a dream come true.

Throughout high school, Steve performed with his band and recorded salsa with other local bands, but his first professional appearance was with Jon Lucien’s 1972 national tour. Since that auspicious beginning, Steve has played non-stop with some of the best in the business. He played for the Brazilian band of pianist Dom Salvador and percussionist Dom Um Romao and than went on to become the conga player for Harry Belafonte. He worked for Harry for four years, appearing on his record, T.V. shows and tours.

Norman Connors introduced Steve to jazz. Never one to set still, Steve has since performed live and made recordings with some of the most well known jazz artist in the world, including Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Roy Ayers, Grover Washington Jr., McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Sadao Watanabe, Tania Maria and David Sanborn.

Latin, Jazz, R&B, Brazilian and African music have all felt the magic of Steve’s touch. They have also deeply influenced him. Steve is now arranging, composing and producing his own blend of music, incorporating and expanding on everything he has learned in his musical sojourn. His rich, multi-layered music has a unique sound, backed by the most contagious, uplifting beats to which you’ll ever move your feet.

RECORDINGS (1974 – present )

Asiabeat, Anita Baker, Harry Belafonte, Brecker Brothers, Cameo, Mariah Carey, Cassiopea, Tracy Chapman, Miles Davis, Gloria Estefan, Aretha Franklin, Rachelle Ferrell, Roberta Flack, Kenny Garret, Dizzy Gillespie, Onaje Allan Gumbs, Tonino Horta, Hijjaz, Michael Jackson, Jon Lucien, Tania Maria, Sergio Mendes, Dato‘ Sheila Majid, Marcus Miller, Dato’ Sri Siti Nurhaliza, Nelson Rangell, Lee Ritenour, Wallace Roney, Diana Ross, Raihan, Rabbani, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Mongo Santamaria, Paul Simon, McCoy Tyner, Grover Washington Jr., Sadao Watanabe, Dave Valentin, Zainal Abidin, Ziana Zain.


Roy Ayers, Anita Sarawak, Asiabeat, Dato Ahmad Nawab, Gato Barbieri, Harry Belafonte, Angela Bofill, Tracy Chapman, Jackie Cheung, Miles Davis, Kris Dayanti, Dwiki Dharmawan, Astrud Gilberto, George Howard, Herbie Hancock, Jack Lee, Jon Lucien, Krakatau, Harvey Malaiholo, Tania Maria, Dato‘ Sheila Majid, Harvey Malaiholo,Jon Kaizan Neptune, Phil Perry, Noel Pointer, Raihan, David Sanborn, Seal, Dato’ Sri Siti Nurhaliza, Raihan, Mongo Santamaria, Tompi, Grover Washington Jr., Sadao Watanabe, Zainal Abidin.


Bali Jazz Festival, Bangkok Jazz Festival, Bordeaux Jazz Festival, Jazz Jamboree Festival Warsaw, Java Jazz Festival Indonesia, KL Music Festival Malaysia, Live Under the Sky Tokyo Jazz Festival, Montreux Jazz Festival Canada, Monterey Jazz Festival California, Mount Fuji Jazz Festival ,New Orlean Jazz & Heritage Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival, Newport Jazz Festival, Penang Jazz Festival Malaysia, Phillip Jazz Festival Malaysia, Singapore Jazz Festival, Sunrise Jazz Festival Malaysia, , World Expo Japan.

Register Now with Steve Thornton