A driven and multi-faceted artist, John first came to national attention as a Jazz musician & arranger in his 20s. Then known by the stage name, John Santos, he was a founding member/arranger/player in the '70s glam band, Kush and performed with other name bands of that decade, like Jo Jo Zep & the Falcons as well as big bands and orchestras- eg. Barry Veith, Channel 9, Channel 7, ABC-TV, Musicals, Jazz, Rock & Latin Combos etc. He and his former  Kush Jo Jo Zep colleagues (Jeff Duff/Wilbur Wilde) continue to work together sporadically, when they appear as guests with his bands. 

Playing Trumpet, Flugel and Keyboards, John founded Grand WaZoo-Kings of Soul in 1981 and and has led the band continuously since, writing over 300 unique 10 x part arrangements for the outfit. These works have their genesis within the Afro-American Soul & iconic RnB repertoire, but Montesante’s orchestrations give them a new vitality, requiring top ‘reading’ musicians to perform them. John works, old-style, hand writing every note. And Grand WaZoo also composes and performs original material too.

Australia's pioneering  Ambassador of Soul, John has performed, backed, supported, acted as musical director, or arranged for various eminent international and Australian artists including The Temptations, Delilah, Lovelace Watkins, Al Martino, Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett Band, Nancy Wilson,Venetta Fields, Tina Arena, Reg Livermore, Jeff Duff, Peter Cupples, Marcia Hines, Kate Ceberano, Bob Valentine, Hollywood Brown, Hot Chocolate, Nichaud Fitzgibbon, Lisa Edwards, Renee Geyer, Joe Camilleri, Normie Rowe, Jackie Love, Max Merritt and countless others...

John has toured internationally, and performed with Grand WaZoo in media-including regular appearances on Hey Hey Its SaturdayThe Don Lane Show, GMA, Midday Show, Denise, Footy Show, and performed live on ABC radio & numerous AM & FM radio outlets. As well as leading Grand WaZoo - Kings of Soul, John performs regularly with his Jazz Quintet (JMQ) & Dectet, making him a uniquely dedicated figure within the Australian music scene. His band records on its own indie label, WaZoo Records.




trumpet &

band leader

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