After many years as one of the world's leading players, Sammy has in recent years firmly established himself as a bandleader and artist. It is rare for a successful professional musician such as Sammy to make the transition from sideman to leader in what some might term "the middle years". Even more unlikely would be for both of this artist's first two albums to each be honored with Grammy Nominations. But since Sammy Figueroa became a leader in his own right the role has fit him comfortably, as if that was always his destiny. Sammy Figueroa is currently considered to be the most likely candidate to inherit the mantles of Mongo Santamaria and Ray Barretto as one of the world's great congueros. When Sammy plays percussion he tells a story, taking the listener on a journey.
Sammy Figueroa was born in the Bronx, New York, the son of the well-known romantic singer Charlie Figueroa and a member of Puerto Rico's foremost musical family. His first professional experience came at the age of 18, while attending the University of Puerto Rico, with the band of bassist Bobby Valentin. During this time he cofounded the innovative fusion Brazilian/Latin group Raices, which broke ground for many of today's fusion bands. Raices was signed to a contract with Atlantic Records and Sammy returned to New York.
Since then Sammy has played with a multitude of distinguished jazz and Latin jazz artists including Sonny Rollins, Dave Sanborn, Quincy Jones, Dave Grusin, George Benson, Chet Baker, Stanley Clarke, Grover Washington, Jr., Al Jarreau, Lena Horne, Joe Williams, Mark Murphy, Mike Mainieri, Nestor Torres, Chico O'Farrill, Mike Stern, Dave Valentin, Arturo Sandoval, Paquito D'Rivera, Ruben Blades, Eddie Palmieri, Tania Maria, Jorge Ben Jor, Daniella Mercury, Tom Jones, James Taylor, Dr. John, Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Celine Dion, Natalie Merchant, Luther Vandross, Ashford & Simpson, Anita Baker, Roberta Flack, David Lee Roth, Hall & Oates, Joe Cocker, Rickie Lee Jones, Annie Lennox and many, many more.