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In 1956, a young mechanical engineer and avid photographer from the Bronx named Martin Cohen happened upon New York’s famous Birdland jazz club. He walked in and was immediately captivated by the sounds of Latin jazz. Cohen became a student of the 1950’s Latin scene, and soon wanted his own set of bongos.Unfortunately, due to trade embargoes, high quality, Cuban-made bongos were not available in the United States, so Cohen's passion compelled him to put his engineering skits to use and create his own set of bongos. After several months, he had successfully built some of the finest bongos the world had ever seen.

For nearly five decades, LP has created and patented hundreds of musical instruments that have been featured in thousands of the world‘s most famous, chart-topping recordings - from classic salsa to classic rock. In fact, Latin Percussion is so essential to so many musical genres, it’s nearly impossible to turn on a radio and not hear an LP instrument being played.

Since 1954, LP has let those who play their instruments do most of the talking. Today, Latin Percussion instruments are used by professional and amateur musician throughout the world. Year after year, Cohen’s legacy continues, as LP's talented research and development team continues working with the woods greatest percussionists to invent and develop generations of new and exciting instruments.

 

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About Latin Percussion:

On the way to becoming Latin Percussion’s (or “LP”) creator and visionary, Martin Cohen walked into New York's famous Birdland jazz club, where he was immediately captivated by the sounds of Cal Tjader's hot Latin jazz. Cohen became a regular at the Monday night jam sessions, headed by flutist Herbie Mann and featuring percussionists like Candido and Jose Mangual, Sr.

Around this time, the government-imposed trade embargo against Cuba made finding high-quality Latin percussion instruments in the United States difficult. Cohen, an engineer and photographer, decided to make his own, using photos of Johnny Pacheco's bongos. While the first set wasn’t exactly perfect, Cohen brought the bongos, and other instruments he would later create, to the club for feedback from the musicians themselves. To this day, LP follows that tradition, answering to the needs of the musicians.

Innovation has always been a part of the LP story. In building his first patented instruments, Cohen used durable modern materials to replace rare and fragile instruments without sacrificing sound quality. Cohen was also one of the first manufacturers to build fiberglass congas, which gained favor with Latin dance bands because of their great volume.

Cohen’s early innovations included an instrument that would replicate the sound of the traditional horse jawbone with rattling teeth. Cohen’s Vibra-Slap, became the company's first patent. His second patent was a sturdier cabasa designed to replace the traditional coconut shells covered with fragile wire lattice. This became the LP Afuche/Cabasa, the company's most successful patent.

Cohen officially started the LP company in August of 1964. The company's first workshop was in Cohen’s garage, and their first endorser was Afro-Cuban and jazz drummer Willie Bobo. Today, LP has over 500 endorsers worldwide, including Karl Perazzo, Raul Rekow, Giovanni Hidalgo, Armando Peraza, Travis Barker, Chris Pennie, Steve Gadd, Peter Erskine and many more. Latin Percussion now has a staff of research, design and product developers, and a cutting-edge manufacturing facility in Thailand that employs over 250 people. What started as a small family operation has grown to become Latin Percussion, the world's largest producer of hand percussion instruments.

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