Jack Costanzo was born on 24 September 1919 in Chicago, Illinois. He is a famous percussionist and plays bongo and congas. Many fans know Costanzo under a pseudonym, Mr. Bongo. Jack traveled a lot and visited Cuba several times. There he discovered Afro-Cuban music style. In the early 1940’s, he polished his bongo and congas-playing skills.
Initially, Costanzo was a dancer. He and his wife performed in local venues before the start of the Second World War. During the war, he served in the navy. After the war ended, Jack got a job as a dance teacher at the Beverly Hills Hotel. There he was noticed by one of the members of a local Latin band Bobby Ramos. Ramos accidently heard how Jack played the bongo and invited him to join the group. From that moment, Costanzo became a famous musician. He was often invited to perform with different groups, including Lecuona Cuban Boys, Desi Arnaz, and Rene Touzet.
The real fame came to Costanzo in 1947 when he joined Stan Kenton Orchestra. The leading arranger of the group created a special arrangement so Costanzo could demonstrate his bongo-playing talent. “Bongo Riff” became very successful. In the late 1940’s, Costanzo recorded several songs for the band, including "Fugue for Rhythm Section," "Journey to Brazil," and "Chorale for Brass, Piano, and Bongo."
In 1949, Costanzo left the band to work with American jazz musician Nat King Cole. At that time, he started recording solo albums. With Cole, Costanzo created such famous songs as "After Midnight" and "Mucho Calor." In the 1950’s playing bongo became very popular. Mr. Bongo was often invited to work with different bands and labels. It was still possible to book Jack Costanzo for a private event but it was becoming harder and harder.