Sal Giarraffa :: Jazz and Latin Drummer


Sal Giarraffa was born February 14th, 1946 in the Red Hook/Cobble Hill section of Brooklyn, NY. He discovered drums at an early age and while in P.S. 29 he played both drums and trumpet in the school band.

In 1958 Sal started to listen to Sonny Paine, the drummer for Count Basie, and that began his interest in Jazz drumming. The following year he began taking lessons from Henry Adler, Sonny Igoe, and Charlie Tappan.

Besides Jazz, Sal also had a love for Salsa, or as Tito Puente called it, ‘Mambo’. While singing doo-wop with The Arrogants in the early 60s, he formed his own Latin group and played at social clubs and dances.

After a hitch in the Army, Sal started to play with wedding bands as there was little to no work for Jazz and Latin drummers. In the 1970s he took some advanced lessons from Al Miller, then went on to start teaching drums himself.

Now living in Port Saint Lucie, on Florida’s Treasure Coast, Sal still loves playing Jazz drums and Latin timbales and congas. He also plays rock, pop, blues, variety, and occasionally works with drum students.

Influences: Buddy Rich, Louie Bellson, Sonny Paine

Favorite Contemporary Drummers: Vinnie Caliuta, Jack Dejohnette, Steve Smith

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