Photo courtesy of Oliver Klink





On May 28th, 2017 at 9:30am the Grand Parade kicks–off at the corner of 24th and Bryant Streets. Watch a brilliant procession of contingents, most of which will feature beautifully adorned floats depicting rich multicultural themes and featuring performers who engage and entertain the crowds. Brazilian-style “escola” samba schools with up to 300 members dance through the streets in fantastic feathered headdresses or sweeping Bahia skirts, while Caribbean contingents perform the music and dance of the Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Trinidad. Other parade groups include Mexican Aztec performers, traditional African drummers, Polynesian dancers, Japanese drummers, giant puppets and folkloric groups representing Guatemala, Honduras and Bolivia.






John Santos
Seven-time Grammy nominee, 2012 San Francisco Latino Heritage Arts Award winner, SFJAZZ Resident Artistic Director (2013 & 2014), and US Artist Fontanals Fellow, John Santos, is a major bandleader, composer, producer, percussionist, and educator in Afro-Latin music with a professional career spanning over four decades. He has written, recorded and published well over 100 original compositions, mostly on his Machete Records label since 1984 and has performed and/or recorded with masters such as Tito Puente, Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, Cachao, Eddie Palmieri, Patato Valdés, Francisco Aguabella, Omar Sosa, Susana Baca, Lalo Schifrin, McCoy Tyner, Batacumbele, Giovanni Hidalgo, Armando Peraza, Jose Luis "Changuito" Quintana, Bebo Valdés, Bobby Hutcherson, Joe Henderson, and Carlos Santana. He served on the Smithsonian’s Latin Jazz Advisory Committee and is a faculty member at the California Jazz Conservatory, the College of San Mateo, and Jazz Camp West. John has also lectured extensively and conducted countless clinics in the United States, Europe and Latin America, including such prestigious institutions as Yale, Stanford, UCLA, the Manhattan School of Music, the Museum of the African Diaspora, Virginia Commonwealth University, the Berklee School of Music in Boston, and Humboldt State University in California. He was founder and director (1985-2006) of the internationally renowned, Grammy-nominated Machete Ensemble, and currently directs the Cubadisco-nominated, John Santos Sextet. He was featured prominently in the PBS American Masters documentary, Cachao: Uno Mas (2008), and is the subject of another PBS documentary currently in progress. He recently (Sep. 2016) performed at the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC. John is an advisory board member of the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance (NY) and the Oaktown Jazz Workshop (Oakland, CA), and a Trustee of SFJAZZ.


The John Santos Sextet is one of the premier Afro-Latin Jazz musical groups in the United States. They illuminate the aesthetic characteristics of Latin Jazz pertaining to instrumentation, rhythm, interpretation and improvisation through live performance and recording. Organized in 2003, their repertoire consists of original compositions and exciting original arrangements of classic rhythms, styles and songs from Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the US. Their various recordings are a musical banquet celebrating the Afro-Latino roots of jazz through imaginative writing and playing in collaboration with dozens of the greatest players in the field from various countries. Equally at home with a dance or concert repertoire, The John Santos Sextet presents a wide range Latin American Jazz for audiences of all ages.


Saul Sierra - bass, composer, arranger
Dr. John Calloway - flute, piano, percussion, composer, arranger
Melecio Magdaluyo - saxes, flute, clarinet, composer, arranger
Marco Diaz - piano, trumpet, composer, arranger
David Flores - drums
John Santos - percussion, composer



Blanche Brown
"All my life I wanted to be a dancer…”
With this thought in mind, Blanche Brown returned to college to study dance in 1970. Becoming a dancer at the age of 35 could be considered by some as an unrealistic goal, but Blanche brown has lived her entire life defying limitations.


The awakening ethnic consciousness of the late 60s propelled her into an in-depth study of African-American Culture. Through the study of physical education and dance at San Francisco State, Blanche explored all the possibilities of movement, from ballet, jazz, folk dance and tap. Simultaneously, Blanche began to dance with the Wajumbe ethnic dance troupe, including African based dance forms in her repertoire. With Wajumbe, Blanche performed all over California at colleges, universities, community centers… even prisons! Blanche graduated from San Francisco State University in 1974 with her Bachelors Degree in Physical Education with an emphasis on Dance. Since then dance has dominated her life.


African rhythm struck a deep chord in Blanche, beginning an artistic investigation that led her to West Africa in 1974. Performing with Wajumbe throughout Nigeria, Blanche absorbed the rich spiritual influences ever-present in West Africa. Her rediscovery of West African culture changed her personal outlook in the African contribution to society as a whole. She realized that African rhythm and dance was universal and applicable to all people, all color, and all ages. Her travels lead her to France in 1979, where she taught a series of ethnic dance workshops in Nice. These classes included dancers of all ages, abilities, and ethnicities.


The African experience awakened Blanche’s interest in the spiritual aspects of ethnic dance. In New York City Blanche began investigating the Haitian influences on dance, and was fascinated by the spiritual connection to the Yourba culture. New York became a cultural mecca for the politically-displaced Haitian artists and musicians; an ideal environment for Blanche’s studies of the deeper aspects of dance. In 1981, Blanche was initiated into the Yoruba religion as a priestess of Oshun and she is a respected elder of the voudon religion in Northern California.


In 1988, Blanche formed the dance troupe Group Petit La Croix. Blanche created the troupe to fully express and visually explain the Haitian culture by combining western choreography and techniques with traditional Haitian dance and drumming. Blanche has since taught ethnic dance the California University system from UCLA to Hayward, Sonoma, to Santa Cruz. Blanche has taught classes at Mills College, Santa Clara University, The Modern Dance Center, The Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts, and at Third Wave Dance House in San Francisco for many years.


Over the years Blanche has been widely recognized for her contribution to the dance community. In 1977 she was the first dancer to be appointed to the San Francisco Arts Commission. In 2003 she was President of the Board of World Arts West. And in 2008 Blanche received the Malonga Casquelourd Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Ethnic Dance and Music. Today, Blanche still teaches and challenges people from all walks of life, including occasionally her own niece and granddaughters, at ODC in San Francisco. Blanche continues to teach, dance, and preform with inspirational grace and enthusiasm. At 81 years old, Blanche continues to defy limitations and expand the parameters of dance.






Patricia Thumas
Patricia Thumas is a native San Franciscan who emerged as the Bay Area's first female Salsa Pianist with the highly acclaimed band "Ritmo 74", opening shows for the international stars of NewYork based Fania Records label, in many of San Francisco's finest venues. She has an extensive career as a Salsa Pianist, including work with John Santos's late seveties Cuban Charanga band "Tipica Cienfuegos", and was also a member of the legendary Afro-Cuban Master Drummer, Francisco Aguabella's band. She has toured the nation several times, and recorded 2 CDs with the internationally acclaimed "Blazing Redheads", on Reference Records label. In the late 70's/early 80's she co-lead two Latin Jazz bands "Chevere"&"Bahia", which featured Patricia's original compositions as well. In 1987, she relocated and became a member of the Les Moncada Latin Jazz band, and during her five years in Sacramento, became a co-founding member of two other bands, The Latin Express and Conquista Musical. Upon returning to SF in 1991, she became a member of Tito Garcia y Orquesta Internaciónal, and in 1994, joined Julio Bravo y Orquesta Salsabor, with whom she performed locally and nationally for eight years. She has also been a 25 year veteran of " El Grupo Sinigual, which has recently launched a new recording and scheduled for upcoming summer performances. She also plays currently with Adelante and Adelante Mujer, as a featured guest pianist. This summer, she will be starting up her own musical project, "Key Elements", a Latin/Brazilian Jazz Ensemble. She has been featured in a book about the development I te Latin Music Scene in SF entitled: "Voices of Latin Rock". This year Patricia will be featured in a Mission Mural Project at Casa Bandido, located at 25 & York Streets. She, along with other community artists, past and present, with be honored, to be unveiled this Summer 2017; with a book feature to follow. Patricia was also honored to be a part of the very first SFCarnaval 1980, in which she was a member of Bateria section of the Carnaval winning contingent " Escola de Samba Batucaje, led by Jose Lorenzo!



Laura Yanow
Laura Yanow is a SF native who has studied Afro Brazilian and Afro Cuban music since 1978. She began participating in Carnaval in 1980 when she paraded with Jose Lorenzo's seminal escola de samba Batucajé. She played with Batucajé at the Monterey Jazz festival in 1981, opening for Flora Purim and Airto. At Carnaval 1982 Laura became the first female surdo player to march down Mission St, opening the path for hundreds of women. In 1983 she joined Escola Nova de Samba under the direction of Chalo Eduardo and Josephine Morada Ortiz and went on to play and sing with them at Carnaval for a decade, performing at many venues including the Carnaval Ball, the Ethnic Dance Festival, and the Greek Theatre. Laura has traveled to Cuba, Brazil and Spain to study the music and culture of those countries.


Although music has shaped her life, Laura is most proud of her 27-year career as a teacher in SFUSD public schools. At James Lick and Horace Mann Middle Schools she taught Language Arts and Social Studies to many brilliant young people who now participate in Carnaval and other music and activist groups throughout the City. Laura believes in the healing and unifying power of music and dance for everyone and is very happy and honored to serve the Carnaval community as a judge today.





Thank You to Our Presenting Sponsor:


kaiser permanente






Please join us on July 15th for the 2017 Grand Parade Award Ceremony. Save the date, more details to follow.






For information about how you can get involved with dance organizations that participate in the parade, click here.