Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez


NEWS

Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez Awarded Honorary Doctor of Music Degree from Berklee College of Music

PERUGIA, Italy -- DL Media is proud to announce that multi-Grammy Award winning drummer extraordinaire, improvisational composer, and leader of a cutting edge Cuban-born, Italian-based quartet,Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez, will be awarded with an Honorary Doctor of Music Degree from Berklee College of Music on Thursday, July 15, 2010 in recognition of his extraordinary musicianship and many career achievements. The honorary degree will be presented on the main stage of the Umbria Jazz Festival in Perugia, Italy by Berklee's vice president, Larry Monroe. Berklee, the world's largest college of music, was founded on two revolutionary ideas: that musicianship could be taught through the music of the time; and that their students needed practical, professional skills for successful, sustainable music careers. Through the years, Berklee has presented doctorate degrees to many important figures who embodied the spirit of their mission, including luminaries such as Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, William "Count" Basie, Quincy Jones, Sonny Rollins, Herbie Hancock, Tito Puente, Chick Corea, and many others. El Negro has been the power behind the most popular and influential Latin music of the past decade. Since leaving Cuba and arriving in New York, he's driven the efforts of Grammy Award-winners Listen Here (Eddie Palmieri), Live at the Blue Note (Michel Camilo),Supernatural (Carlos Santana), No Es Lo Mismo (Alejandro Sanz), and Crisol (Roy Hargrove). El Negro has also recorded with Chucho Valdes, Paquito D'Rivera, Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Robbie Ameen, among others. His performance Live at the Modern Drummer Festival 2000 (Hudson Music), with Allman Brothers' percussionist Marc Quiones and late saxophone great Michael Brecker, lives on explosive video footage.

August 2012

Bujumbura, Burundi

El Negro in Burundi

Here I am at airport in Bujumbura, Burundi, with the band of one of the most talented and tasteful musicians Ihave ever had the privilege to meet and play with; composer, piano player and singer Meddy Gerville from the gorgeous Reunion Island on the Indian Ocean, East Africa. It was one of the most inspirational and beautiful tours I have ever done. We travelled through 14 countries in Africa interacting with amazing audiences, feeding from an endless array of ancient music, drumming and mesmerizing with nature, colors and air with no pollution at all! From Left; Jean-Marie Ecey on guitar, Dominique DiPiazza on bass, Myself and Meddy... Arriving...

July 2012

Another Great and Unforgettable Night at UDC (Ultimate Drum Camp)

Ultimate Drum Camp

Every August most of the great group of friends that stared on the film "A Drummers Dream" get together in Magog, a small beautiful lake town one and a half hours east of Montreal, for a week of intense learning. Every night after one of us presents his concert we end up jamming together… How can we describe Dennis? The great Dennis Chambers, Raul Rekow, Giovanni Hidalgo and myself being pumped by Alain Caron's bass! Joy!! www.UltimateDrumCamp.com

June 2012

Thank You Pearl Drums

Pearl Drums

Pearl Drums

Pearl Drums

It's a little bit late (1:55AM) and can't stop looking at it but I want to wake up at 7:30AM to walk my daily 4 miles along the beach getting in shape for the shirtless European summer tour this year with guitar man Marc Ribot!!! But I can not go to bed without at least thanking from the bottom of my heart all the men and woman that make us musicians dream so high. This afternoon I received my new set of drums, all pastel green, custom made in exactly the same color as my eye glasses… all sizes 24, 22, 20, 18, 18, 16, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8 and snares 14x5 1/2 and 6 1/2 a 12x4 and a 10x4. It's the most desirable and unbelievable gift I could have ever had! A Pure Reference, custom design! Thank you so much Pearl Drums!!!!! It's been a great 15 year+ and I promise… you will hear about these drums! They are so amazingly beautiful!... From the Senior President of the company to the shipping department, all my heart and love to you… Love you. THANKSSS!! and now I can go to bed… Goodnight.

April 2012

Trading Guns For Cowbells

trading guns for cowbells

This picture is to support the current activities that are happening in Uganda with Kony 2012. I have been moved by this campaign because I remember my trip to Uganda in 2006 taking this picture that was entitles "trading guns for cowbells" as a way to denounce the atrocities that are affecting many children in Africa. Lets take weapons and violence out of our children's reach.

Negro's Musings

In the past 15 years or more, the end of January represents the moment to reunite with our brothers & sisters... and we are very happy to see each other once a year. Besides being able to hug and say hello to all the people responsible for creating, building and marketing our beautiful instruments, we also get the chance to see many of those who so amazingly paved the way for us! Louie Bellson, Armando Peraza, Francisco Aguabella, Walfredo Reyes Sr ... just to mention a few of our most legendary fathers. And then into the heroes of my days... Omar (Hakim), Gary Husband, Smitty (Smith), Alex Acuna, Cindy Blackman, Giovanni (Hidalgo)... right on to the next generation, Zak Danzinger, Mike Mangini, Johnny Raab, Raul Pineda... into the youngsters like Teddy Campbell, Ronald Bruner Jr. Of course all our families at Pearl & Zildjian... Glen Caruba, Marc Q, Bobby Allende, Jesus Diaz, Eric Velez, Carlos Soto, Robert Vilera, Johnny Blas, Jesse Caraballo, Jim McGathy, John King..

It's 4 days of hugs and catching up, but also for many of us it's a responsibility. I've been very lucky for being home a week before NAMM, having a chance to spend a few hours, at least, practicing my drums. What happened at the Pearl booth.., it was magical! Richie Flores and myself were scheduled to play on Friday at 4 o'clock. We started playing the opening tune of Richie's solo debut album, just on percussion and drumset. Our audience was there already with us... Friends started coming over, the booth started getting crowded... hotter! It is a moment that I will never forget and a moment that definitely left a mark on my own career and in my heart. Having your idols coming to jam with you and to play with you is just beyond everything!! 20 minutes after our set started in the fishbowl, I was dancing and playing a very small cowbell, while on my right Sheila E was grooving her butt off on my kit while Alex Acuna, on my left, was nailing the perfect groove on timbales! I feel very glad that I didn't have to play on Saturday or Sunday. Once again, my heroes made my days! I partied and I enjoyed it alot... until next January...

Saturday and Sunday were about saying hello to whoever missed that jam!

It is 6am on Monday and I am still packing all my memories... I'm flying home in a few hours, already thinking about next January.

Negro 02/07

In the month of April, I was able to participate in a few great recordings....... at the beginning of the month I went to Puerto Rico, first to record with reggaeton girl Shany Duco and then to celebrate Eddie Palmieri's 50 year career anniversary at the Tito Puente Amphitheatre. Four hours flying, shifted me to Boston, to play a concert at the Museum of Fine Arts, with the Fahir Atakoglu Trio featuring Anthony Jackson on bass. Then we played Blues Alley in D.C., where I connected for Toronto, for the recording of Hilario Duran's Big Band recording "From The Heart", with maestro Paquito D' Rivera, as a very special guest. Bozeman, Montana, San Jose, California, and Denver, Colorado, for a quick drum clinic tour, before playing a couple of nights in New York City, again with the Fahir Atakoglu Trio. The last days of April and May 1st saw me at Clinton Studios in NYC, recording Kazumi Watanabe's "Mo Bop III", once again with Richard Bona on bass, and this time around Brazilian percussion great Cyro Baptiste as an invited guest on some tracks.

On May 3rd, the airplane headed to Turkey, for a series of concerts with Fahir and Anthony. We played in Ankara, Antalya, Istanbul, and Izmir. There's nothing like seeing a country with a native as your best friend! Fahir's hospitality was excellent, and the concerts went great. Italuba was waiting for me in Rotterdam. A few months ago, in Zimbabwe, I received a gift that has changed my life. A drummer named John Miles Draze, husband of a prominent California doctor who specializes in AIDS research, and father of two, gave me a precious instrument with the most angelic sound I've ever heard. This instruments name is the mbira, and this one in particular belonged to the late Mr. Ephat Mujuru, who was one of the Zimbabwean percussionists invited to play at the only concert, that the greatest Bob Marley ever performed, in Africa. John was his student, and when he passed on, John kept the mbira. At the concert of ITALUBA in Rotterdam on May 13th, was the first time that I played the mbira live. It's a very hard instrument to mic, and it wasn't until my brothers from Shure sent me a special mic, that I'm now able to amplify the instrument better. It was great to get back with "my" guys. After Rotterdam, The Piazza dei Signori, in Vicenza, Italy, was where we performed as part of the jazz festival (LA BELLA ITALIA!), where I was down because I'd lost one of the mbira keys during the flight from Amsterdam...... from Vicenza, we flew to Napoli, where I landed almost crying for my mbira's lost key ('A BELLA NAPOLI!), only in Napoli; the concert promoter found an iron "craftsman", who took the mbira and came back to me two hours later with the new key (it was the perfect size, but the wrong note, and until I bought another mbira just to replace the key on mine, the problem was not solved, but what an ingenious will. Only 'A Napoli!). Pescara was the last concert before I went to visit my friend, pianist Ramon Valle in Amsterdam, for a few days off. On the 22nd, ITALUBA played a the New Morning in Paris, two days at the Jamboree in Barcelona, a concert in Valencia, the jazz festival in Vic, and two days at Clamores jazz club in Madrid. The night after, was the record release for Nino Josele's "Paz" record, with Marc Johnson on bass. La Palma Jazz Festival was waiting for ITALUBA in Rome, before returning to Barcelona for Nino Josele's second record release party there. I met my guys again in Tenerife, Spain, where I arrived but my suitcase didn't, (but a new shirt is always a reason to be happy!). Most missed item: my sticks! Thank God that my bag followed me to Dusseldorf, Germany at the Jazz Festival, and the day after we trained it to Nijmegen, Holland, where the last concert of our spring tour happened. My friend Ramon Valle, was a special guest of the concert, and we played a lovely duet of piano and mbira, plus a couple of trio tunes.

OK for now, hopefully you'll enjoy this read, and remember, we only covered two months! But I promise you, I will catch up soon!

All my best,

Love,
eL NEgRO 12/06

A serious lack of time has made me absent from the monthly newsletter. In other words, I have been in more than 25 countries in what is looking like the most traveled year of my entire life! In January, after recording a documentary for PBS with Marc Ribot and doing a home recording for Mike Sterlacci, I escaped from snow, flying to Barbados to play with the Cuban All-Stars featuring Giovanni Hidalgo and young, rising, alto-sax star Miguel Zenon.

Sunny L.A. was once again the host of the NAMM show, a place where we not only get in touch with the new advances of our industry, but where we also have the chance to spend some time with many of our friends and colleagues. At the Fine Arts Theatre in Puerto Rico, a celebration was held for the fiftieth anniversary of Eddie Palmieri's career, and simultaneously, I was preparing for a lifetime dream to come to light.

The young Reunion Island phenom Meddy Gerville offered me a tour, along with bass-ace Dominique DiPiazza (John McLaughlin, Bireli Lagrene, etc.) and guitarist Jean-Marie Ecay (Bill Cobham Band) along the entire east coast of Africa. It was a trip that I don't have enough pages to describe! From the warmth of the African people, to the beauty of the landscape, to the sounds of the musics of every different country, it was all breathtaking...... We started the tour from the "pearl" of east Africa, Meddy's beautiful Reunion Island, and then travelled into Madagascar, Uganda, Djibouti, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Namibia, Swaziland, and South Africa, all going through Tanzania and Kenya, where I got the news in the middle of February, that we were a Grammy winner again for Eddie Palmieri's "Listen Here" recording.

An opportunity to reunite with old friends lead me to Madrid in March, where along with piano-player Caramello, and Paco DeLucia's bass player Alain Perez, we performed at Clamores Jazz Club for four nights while recording "live". A rehearsal in Paris with Mario Canonge and Etienne M'Bappe was the bridge for returning to Africa. In Mauritius, South Africa, and Mozambique, this time around, I'm happy to say, I now have friends! As you can see my friends, these were only the first three months of the year, but right now, I have to get out of the bathtub and run to the airport to fly to Asia. I promise I'll catch up with you again soon. You're always in my thoughts.

P.S. 2006 to be continued........

Love,
eL NEgRO 9/06

Very lovely to begin this letter by wishing you all a very Happy New Year

'05 was such a wonderful year!

ITALUBA grew a little bit more from what was our last tour of 2005. We started on October 26, playing at Busto Arsizio Jazz Festival near Milano, Italy. Then we went to the beautiful town of Marostica (the town where they do a Medieval chess game in the main square using "real people" in gorgeous costumes as the chess pieces!) to play at Panic Jazz Club. It was onward then to my old "home" (Rome) to play at the unbelievable Casa del Jazz (this is an incredible new organization with an amazing facility that includes a great concert hall, library, restaurant, discoteque, and even beautiful gardens. The "Garden of Jazz" they call it... On October 29th we played at the very round Ferrara Jazz Club.

After Italy, it was on to "boot camp" in Paris. A fourth-floor room with a very narrow stairwell and of course no elevator, plus three-sets-a-night made our debut appearance in Paris at the famous Sunset Jazz Club, a very "romantic" experience indeed! From Paris we flew on to Amsterdam where I had a deja-vu. Twenty years ago (and I am not that old!) one of my first international concerts with Cuban piano player Gonzalo Rubalcaba took place in the same room where I was now about to perform for the first time with ITALUBA. I had always had amazing memories of the audience from the past, and I knew it was going to be the same this time around. AND IT WAS. Thanks Amsterdam, you guys are the best. By the way, my friend Richie Flores jammed with us on the last tune for a "high impact" ending. We continued our tour of Holland in Mastricht at the Theatre aan het Vrijthof and then I went to play a party with some of the best European DJ's in Maaseik, before returning to Porgy and Bess Jazz Club in Terneuzen (I remembered that the last time I was there was to play with The David Sanchez Quintet). Terneuzen has the best ribs ever! I took a three day "European Vacation" after that in Amsterdam with my dear friend and great piano player Ramon Valle just "thinking about the future".

Our home in Madrid (Calle 54) was just waiting to surprise me once again by continuing to host very important events in my life. This is the first time that I "felt" the "freedom" of traveling with my friends and family. Some of my best friends from Puerto Rico came to visit me in Madrid as well as my cousin who traveled over from Miami. My brother also lives there, and so it's always an important stop for me. But of course, all of this can be a bit crazy when you're so busy! In five days, I played a concert with ITALUBA, a concert with El Nino Josele for The Madrid International Jazz Festival (a great flamenco guitar player who just recorded an unbelievable work with the music of jazz legend pianist Bill Evans) and bass great Mark Johnson, who by the way, played for many years with Bill Evans himself. A jam session at Cardamomo Club with my friend Alain Perez (bass player with Paco DeLucia and Isaac Delgado), plus I was in the studio for two days with producer Javier Limon for some upcoming projects...

El Cafe Latino in Orense (Galician region of Spain) brought down the house, as well as The Circulo de las Artistes in Lugo. It was an amazing tour, the band is having more fun every day... Our hearts are with all the guys that are working to make it possible.

So dear friends, I started my letter wishing you a Happy New Year as well as finishing it by wishing you a very Happy New Year!!!!!

Love,
eL NEgRO 1/06

Hello everyone! Here I go again trying to tell you what's happened in my crazy musical life in the past three and a half months... On a very early morning the day after my daughter's twenty-third birthday I met a dear friend, percussion master Giovanni Hidalgo. We met across the street from the headquarters of the United Nations in Manhattan to head out to the airport for our trip west to begin the debut tour of the Eddie Palmieri Afro-Caribbean All Star Band. It was great to get back to the West Coast and finally get to see all my friends again. We began at the San Jose Jazz Festival, playing on the Main Stage that was set up in the middle of the street and turned into a massive Latin-jazz party! The day after, we moved a few miles north to play at the beautiful and cozy theatre at Half Moon Bay. At this time one of the best (if not the best) jazz clubs in the world, the famous Yoshi's in San Francisco, was just waiting for our arrival. A week of amazing audiences (15 sold-out shows including a matinee on Sunday for kids!) will remain in our memories as a great gift from the Bay Area. Northbound was then on the agenda, and so we flew to Seattle for four nights at the great Jazz Alley where our dear friend and trombone player Conrag Herwig showed us his skills not only as a musician, but also as a great cook!

I headed home for a couple of days to get behind the mixing board to do some more work as a producer on what will be master percussionist Richie Flores' debut solo record. Montreal came next through an invitation of my friend Danny de los Reyes to play at what was one of the most amazing parties I have ever been, organized by the creator of the Cirque du Soleil. It reunited on stage some of best Canadian DJ's and master percussionists Ron Powell (Madonna, Sting, etc.), Luisito Quintero (Latin great), Danny de los Reyes (Earth, Wind & Fire, Yanni, etc.) and myself on traps. We jammed non-stop from midnight until 7am and we only stopped because airplanes don't wait, otherwise we would probably still be playing...

A Pearl Drum event with my brother Richie Flores at Villa Music in his native Puerto Rico, took me back to La Isla del Encanto spending a few extra days with my friends on their boat relaxing and recharging the batteries to go again on a 28 hour trip to Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean (Africa), to record the album of piano ace Meddy Gerville featuring Dominique DiPiazza (John McLaughlin,Trilok Gurtu) on bass, and Jean-Marie Ecay on guitar. We also played a few concerts and visited the island of Mayotte which, in an unfortunate way, reminded me of my native Cuba... 28 hours back to the States and a few days later celebrating in Long Island, New York, was the Tenth Anniversary of the amazing Evans Drumheads. It was a very special day, not only for the celebration, but also because I had the chance to spend the full day with a musician (drummer) who has been a life-long inspiration to me... the great Mr. Peter Erskine. After lunch we jammed for a couple of songs and it was more apparent to me than ever what a joy it is for a percussion player (I was playing congas) to play with such an amazing drummer. This one day will forever remain in my heart. Thank you Peter!!

It is always great to be able to do something for your colleagues if they have a problem. That's why the Berklee Performance Center was the scenario for a benefit concert that left not only the audience, but also the performers wanting to help anytime there was the need. Put together by an organization called Right Turn, the event "Rhythm and Recovery" gathered together different styles of drum luminaries. From the funkiest John Blackwell (Prince) and Chad Smith (Red Hot Chile Peppers), to the rock legend Simon Kirke (Bad Company) it was a full night of joy. Egui Castrillo and myself were in charge of bringing the rice 'n beans to the feast ending in a mega Latin-Funk-Rock jam that left audiences on their feet.

Back to Caracas, Venezuela, for their First International Drum Festival. It was almost a year since I flew with my brother Robby Ameen and so I enjoyed not only performing at the Drum Fest, along with the phenomenal Venezuelan audiences and hospitality, but also traveling together with my friend. While in Caracas, I had the chance to seal the deal for my upcoming release ITALUBA II on Cacao Records, and so hopefully around March '06 it will see the light!

So not wanting to be too long-winded here, I'm gonna give you guys a break until next time. I still have alot to tell you about the great tour I just wrapped up with ITALUBA.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO Y'ALL AND YOUR FAMILIES..

and don't forget DRUMS ARE LIFE!!!!
And what a wonderful life...

Yours,
eL NEgRO 12/05

Good evening fella's... As I thought, my very first trip to Africa was nothing but a pure joy! I went to a place just like the Caribbean, called the Reunion Islands, where it was a very nice surprise to find musicians not only rhythmically advanced, but also harmonically. That is the case of the young piano player Meddy Gerville, who assembled an international band consisting of phenom French bass player Dominique DiPiazza, guitar great Jean-Marie Ecay, and myself on the drums, for a series of concerts including one on the neighboring island of Mauritius where we stayed at "Sands". What a resort and what hospitality! The concerts were so great that we are already planning a future recording and tour. In the meantime, I am trying as much as I can to get into the authentic rhythm's of the island that Meddy introduced me to (Maloya).

Second time in my life that I had to go from JFK onto the stage ... after quite a trip (Reunion Islands - Paris 12 hours, 4 hours of layover in Paris, and then Paris - New York 8 hours!!!!!)... and then on to play The Long Island Drum Center... fortunately with my brother of won battles, master percussionist Marc Quinones, as we were selected to introduce to New York not only Marc's signature timbale series, or my signature line of cowbells, but also the "Reference Series" which is the brand new state-of-the-art drum sets manfactured by Pearl. People, what an instrument. Not too far away from home, the next day I played at a clinic also introducing the Reference drums at Dale's Drum Shop in Harrisburg, PA, and then on to Columbus Pro Percussion to inaugurate a new kind of clinic tours...... THE PARKING LOT CLINIC! We had a great time, and it was great to hang out with Jim, who does so much for the world of drums and percussion.

A five hour flight (of course through Miami) lands me from Columbus to Caracas, Venezuela (my second trip in the past three months), this time invited to be the drum set representative at FITA (International Festival of Afro American Traditions), and it was very pleasant for me to notice that we (the drumset players), are really the youngest-son of the drums, being that the drumset is the youngest instrument in the family of percussion. It was very special for me to have been invited this year, when the festival was honoring and celebrating the lifetime achievement of Cuban conga legend Mr. Tata Guines. It was also very special to spend some time with my brother and mentor Jose Luis Quintana (Changuito), as well as all the inspiring Venezuelan percussion players.

From Caracas I made my annual crusade to Boston, MA, to once again be a part of the faculty at the Berklee School of Music Percussion Festival, as well organized by my dear friend Dean Anderson as always (10 years in a row) gathering Giovanni Hidalgo, Trichy Sankaran, Equi Castrillo, Mark Walker, Casey Schurell, Dave Samuels, Kenwood Dennard and others. From Boston to home on the Fourth of July, not only to celebrate the birth of the nation, but also to celebrate the birth of a new American Citizen - ME! - YEAH!

This year, because of the hurricanes, life was a little bit different in the Caribbean. A couple of concerts were cancelled for me during July, so I enjoyed staying at home for about a week before going back to Venezuela to be a part of the producers team for what will be Chanquito's debut CD, plus other recordings including Venezuelan trap-set player Andres Briceno, piano player Olegario Diaz, and percussion player Orlando Poleo.

On July 24, Alitalia took me to Rome, to connect south to Taranto, for the first concert of Italuba's summer tour. We are so happy. The music of this band is just getting better and better, as well as the response from the audiences. From Sardenia to Milan, we had nothing but a great tour, and by the way, while traveling all over, ITALUBA II was in the process of being mixed in LA, again by no other than the great Dave Weckl. We're hoping to release ITALUBA II by the end of this year or the beginning of 2006.

Now here I am shaving again, and packing my bags to go to the west coast and have some fun with my "blood brothers"... The Eddie Palmieri Afro Caribbean All-Stars. I'm really looking forward... see you there!

Negro 8/05

Cowbells for Sale! So after a wonderful introduction of my Signature Series Cowbells at the NAMM show, I took a well deserved 10 day vacation... just to pump gas to start again! A photo session for Turkish pianist Fahir Atakoglu, that I did with Anthony Jackson, brought me back to work. And the day after, I started producing virtuoso percussionist Richie Flores' solo debut record. After a few days in the studio I embarked on the Mario Canonge (piano) tour, (the French connection), that features everyone's bass player in Paris - Michel Alibo and Jacques Schwartz-Bart on sax. It was many countries in not so many days... but unforgettable memories. My first time in Haiti Port-au-Prince, then to Mexico for 4 concerts. One in the familiar Monterey. Two at the UNAM in Mexico City. And one in an amazingly beautiful old town named Queretaro. Then we flew north, back to the states for the west coast. A night in San Francisco... and then even further north, at the East Cultural Center in Vancouver... and then really into the winter at Winnipeg. Next, to the nation's capital - Washington DC... funkying at Snug Harbor in New Orleans... and hanging out with Delsayo Marsalis... and a day at home - but playing at the Knitting Factory, New York City... and then straight to the sun of San Juan, PR... a small jump to Guadalupe... another small jump to Margarita Island, Venezuela... and then to the mainland, for the first time in Curacas (just to find my cousin by accident in the airport!)... hanging with the guys of the Ochestra Sarao.

The final date of the tour was in Maracibo, Venezuela... where it was unknown that I was coming to perform. I happened to run into a drummer at the soundcheck - and in a matter of less than an hour, every drummer in Maracibo showed up! It was a beautiful gathering. All this happened between February and March. On April 9th, I found myself playing at the Frankfurt MESSE show (the European equivalent of the NAMM show) with Italuba (which kicked off the tour of April with Italuba). Santander in Barcelona, Spain... a wonderful drum fest in Milan, Italy, (where besides playing with Italuba, I played as a guest with La Drumeria - which is a fantastic group of five of the top drummers in Northern Italy). I had, of course, to anchor at home (Rome) and also Ravenna Jazz Festival and the Bellante in Italy. A short flight to London put me into the clinic tour mode. It was my longest clinic tour of Europe to date... fantastically organized and run by Dave Phillips for Pearl Drums UK and the webmaster extraordinaire Mike Dolbear. From Glasgow to London... 6 venues in the UK, 6 nights of Indian food... yeah! Continued on to do more clinics in Holland, Belgium and Germany, (thumbs up for DrumWorld in the Netherlands – the biggest drum store in the world). High praises to Mike and Dave, it was a great one.

In my SOS a few days ago, I was asking questions from you for a dvd that had just completed filming of Mike Mangini and myself. Thanks for all of your great questions and comments!

Now at this very moment, I am shaving... with not too much time to run to the airport and go to Mauritania on the west coast of Africa, so I will talk to you later.

Negro 6/05

We were trying to do this newsletter from the car... going to the airport, but it's too noisy. So just hold on a few hours and I will be with you from Canada!

(a few hours later....) 15 countries in 3 months! from Haiti to Germany! more soon...

(a couple days later...) SOS! Hello guys! This is an SOS. Myself and Mike Mangini are going across Canada doing a Reality DVD drum clinic tour. It's coming out wonderful! We're thinking that we need to answer a few questions on the dvd... so please send us questions (to pam@drumsontheweb.com) and we will pick a few to answer. We have 4 more days, so please ask something!

The rest of the news will be with you soon...

Negro (and Mike) 5/05

Let's start it backwards... Back from my month-long Europe tour with Italuba that included a special performance that I did with Anga Diaz and his band at the Barcelona Jazz Festival.

Did a huge clinic in Zaragoza Spain. Then 3 Sam Ash Clinics in December (Orlando, Miami & Springfield, NJ) with Marc Quinones & Bobby Allende. Right before the end of the year I was in Tokyo with Richard Bona & Kazumi Watanabe. Killin' gig! Beautiful. All love. Yes... Japan once again. A great DVD... Home. New Years. The first New Years at home in 10 years. I was at home! Yaaaay! Chill for a minute.

Flew down to Barbados to play The Barbados Jazz Festival with Charles Flores, Giovanni Hidalgo & Elio Villa Franca.

Back in New York at Avatar Studios to do the new Eddie Palmieri record, (coming out soon), that is gonna be an amazing thing! Michael Brecker, Nicolas Payton, David Sanchez, Christian McBride, Giovanni Hidalgo, Regina Carter....

Then I came out to the NAMM Show. This NAMM Show... Peter Erskine playing at the Zildjian Tribute to Louie Bellson & Roy Haynes. But then listening to Peter Erskine, for me... his amazing artistry on a drumset that it is not any more a drumset. It's really a musical instrument.

And then the Battle of the Timbale Players! To be in the company of the best timbaleros on the planet today and to feel that they invited me to play timbales too. Which is ridiculous... it was like Marc Quinonnes, Karl Perazzo, Ralph Irrizary, Jesus Diaz... and I felt like I was on American Idol of Timbales and I was the chinese guy!

And from there, we went to the house of the owner of Cuban Pete's, who hosted the timbales thing. Giovanni & Sandy... it was the best music I heard in a long time.

ok let's go back now... The Zildjian Tribute to Louie Bellson & Roy Haynes (and Earl Palmer). Louie Bellson. To see Louie Bellson saying that his inspiration is the people behind and presenting to him, that they were 30 or 40 years younger than him! Peter Erskine, Steve Gadd... Louie Bellson saying that these people were his inspiration... it was the most moving thing I have ever seen in my life.

And Dennis Chambers in his pajamas! He gave a bottle of cognac to my sister Pam to bring home to myself... Dennis is the guy!

Mike Mangini let me crash in his pad! I had to crash in Mangini's pad the first night, because I had no room. And then Virgil Donati came in. I slept in a bunk bed.

NAMM... So many people! It was so overwhelming!

And... Cowbells for Sale! Guys... the cowbells are here! Pearl introduced them at the NAMM show. I don't know if it's because I have so many good friends... but they all say that the cowbells sound great! There are 5 bells: Bella (highest), ClaBell (perfect for foot pedal), ChaBella (medium high), IsaBell (low, resonant) MaryBell (deepest). Designed by my friend John van der Meulen and manufactured by the Sukit music family in Thailand... these are the Rolls Royce of Bells! These are the bells of a heart... it's coming from the center of the earth, you know? And then all you gotta do is put a little bit of tape and make it your own. I don't know anybody who plays a bell that uses the bell the way it is. You make it your own. It was built to make it your own. So please make your own best bell, ever. And remember... the clamp is the best!

Negro 2/05

Hi Fellas!

My dear partner Pam Gore is transcribing for you this phone conversation from Osaka, Japan where I just woke up to the great news that Italuba is in the first round of the Grammy Awards, in the category of Latin Jazz! You can listen to a few sound clips of the record.

But now let me tell you what happened in the last 3 months...

After coming back from Europe in the beginning of August, I went for a couple of days to Montauk, NY... making an appearance on my father-in-law's tv and radio shows for local cable network L-TV. Two days later, I went into Tony Bennett's studio in NJ for the new record of the Japanese avant gard band called Tokyo Zawinul Bach. Three days later, I was still in a studio... but in a different one. This time in Manhattan, recording Kip Hanrahan's new project (with Steve Swallow joining the usual suspects.)

On the 19th, bags were packed, heading to Japan, where I played with El Negro & Robby Band (Kazumi Watanabe, John Beasley & Masahiko Satoh). And check this out... I flew all the way from Tokyo to Bangkok, Thailand (for a special project that I will talk to you about later in this letter). And because I had no visa, I was literally detained at the airport in Bangkok for almost 6 hours before they decided just to send me back to Tokyo (shit happens!) So from Tokyo I went back home to repack my bags for a trip that was always in my thoughts... and it was a dream come true! My dear friend Ferlando Trueba (the director of Calle 54) invited me to attend the premier of his new film "The Miracle of Candeal" in Bahia Brasil, where I was for a week (and also did some recording with Carlinhos Brown and where I had the privilege of sharing the art of percussion with many, many little kids... exactly like it was growing up in my Havana.) Viva Brasil!

So from Rio de Janero... back to Tony Bennett's studio in NJ. This time with my dear friend Anthony Jackson on bass. A few days later I head north to Montreal and Ottawa Canada to share a couple of drum clinics with my Bostonion Brother (by the way... congratulations on your World Series Title!) Mike Mangini... what a ball! And then a little tour of the spiciest countries came thru... 5 days in Monterrey Mexico sharing the stage once again with my home brother Roberto Vizcaino for the 1st International Percussion Festival.

And from there... the resolution of my journey to Thailand where I went to finish the design of my signature line of cowbells that Pearl Drums will release next January at the NAMM show. All I can say is that these are the Rolls Royce of Bells! Designed by my friend John van der Meulen, who gave me my very first percussion endorsement 20 years ago when he was the owner of Afro Percussion - which became Pearl Percussion a few years ago. These bells are definitely a state of the art, manufactured by the Sukit music family in Thailand. It was beautiful also to have the opportunity of playing for all the workers and the technicians of the factory. It was really a blessing of an interaction between the people who build our instruments and us - the players. The hospitality of the Thai people was amazing... and especially Sukit's kindness... I will never forget.

Then I moved 6 hours south into Japan where I have been now for 2 1/2 weeks and this is a very curious detail - the first week, I played on 7 days with 7 different bands! So this is my second week and we're almost finished with the Chie Ayado winter tour. So as you can see, there's no time to get bored! Thank God.

Don't ever forget to practice as much as you can and to live music as much as you can.

All my love,
Negro 11/04

Once again it was amazing to play in the west coast Hollywood Bowl Playboy Jazz Festival (Nothing to do with pornography or erotic tricks & licks. By the way, Hugh Hefner was there with his whole entourage!).

Leaving the United States, flying to Europe has always been from New York. But this time it was from California... welcome to the longest tour of my life! From bunnies, I went straight to Madrid for a week engagement and a second recording with the Seda Jazz Ensemble at Calle 54 Club in Madrid for a live recording that gathered the brotherhood between Latin music, Flamenco & Jazz. Note - during this time, I saw one of the best concerts I have ever seen! It was maestro Paco de Lucia's concert in Madrid... after at least 9 years without playing home. And on top of that, I was fortunate enough to have been invited to my first gypsy wedding! It was Paco's percussionist Pirana's brother, Sabu (also a great Flamenco percussion player).

Spain is becoming home. Gypsies, Flamenco... and then my last tour as a member of the Michel Camilo Trio started. We went for awhile all over Europe and I had to quit in the middle of the tour. First for 3 days to record in Milano, Italy with Jovannotti (the biggest man in Italy!). Then a few more dates of my tour... and then I had the blessing of my life - to attend the most beautiful party I have ever lived... and it way my daughter's 15th birthday party in Havana! So, after heaven, I went back to Europe.

Wow! What a bad memory... Before my daughter's birthday, we were invited to the Rhythm Sticks Festival (again, let me explain myself - Rhythm Sticks is a percussion event held at the Royal Festival Hall in London and is equivalent with any of the major percussion festivals around the world.) It was Italuba's British debut. And then to have Giovanni Hidalgo as our special guest was even beyond!

So then I did a few more dates around Europe and right before coming back home, Italuba performed a couple dates in Rome at the Classico, just to send me home with the same love as 10 years ago.

Note - the 2nd amazing concert I saw this summer was the Branford Marsalis Quartet at the North Sea Jazz Festival in the PWA Zaal. (Jeff "Tain" Watts on the drums... don't miss it!)

Much Love,
Negro (& the spirit and typing fingers of Pam) 9/04

Yaaaayyy! Finally the release of my 1st solo record... Italuba!

Welcome to my (I don't even know what month it is!) musings. Fun, fun from Madrid, Spain, where Michel Camilo is starting his summer tour.

This year's Blue Note Tour started at the one in New York City. It was very nice and I feel very proud to be a part of a list of not only drummers, but great musicians that have performed clinics over there for the past few months.

In the middle of May, the legendary Japanese guitar player Kazumi Watanabe did his 2nd record with the new electric trio (bassist Richard Bona and myself) at Caroline's Studio. And then I packed my bags and went to Japan for Chie Ayado's 10-date tour.

Then I changed latitude and went to sunny Puerto Rico to perform at the Heinekin Jazz Festival with the Tony Terez Quintet and also to promote Italuba which just came out on the Carribean island.

And from there to Boston once again with my brother Giovanni Hidalgo for the World Percussion Fest at Berklee School of Music (which marked our 10th anniversary in a row!).

From Boston, I flew direct to Los Angeles to perform at the Playboy Jazz Fest and then from Los Angeles... straight to Spain where I just completed a series of concerts at Calle 54. Then, also, a recording with the Seda Jazz Latin Ensemble. That was just 3 days ago, so I have no choice but to wait for Michel Camilo over here... having a little bit of Sangria and Spanish Cured Ham!

7/04

Drum roll.... rrllrrllrrllrrllrrllrrllrrllrrllrrllrrllrrllrrllrrllrrllrrllrrllrrllrrllrrllrrllrrllrrllrrllrrllrrll

Grammy Party! We found out on the stage at The Regatta Bar in Boston that we were Grammy winners! What a surprise (and what a shame that we were not at the Grammy Party...) But anyway, it was lovely, Boston.

Recording a few concerts in Japan with Chie Ayado took me almost half the month, and it was beautiful to come back home to play The Blue Note in New York with Michel (Camilo) for a week.

And now the good stuff... My precious dream is coming to life! Italuba (the band which I recorded my 1st solo record) was going on tour for the very first time - live! What great music, what a great tour! But guys, this band became an ambulatory hospital! Trumpet & piano player (Ivan Bridon) had a very high fever for almost more than a week... the bass player (Daniel Martinez) broke his head! (Really! He split it wide open while taking a shower.)

Now get ready for the best advice I can give for any drummer (or to any non-drummer... or to everybody!) Don't ever go out with your head wet during the winter. Please dry your hair before you go out! I believe this was a message from beyond. The first concert of Italuba was 3 days in a row at the club that has become the mecca of Latin Jazz in Madrid. The club is called Calle 54... the name of the movie that I had the opportunity to appear not only with Michel Camillo, but also with the legend of big band arranging, Chico O'Farrell (which sadly is no longer with us).

I wanted to say so many things to the audience of this concert at Calle 54, but I was stricken with, believe it or not, a condition called Bells Palsy (seems that bells are following me for life!), which was the most horrific thing I'd had happen to me. I had half of my face paralyzed for almost 3 weeks. It was beautiful to have a family of people around me asking me to go home and cure myself... but I couldn't leave the audiences waiting. Everybody was so excited about the tour! This newsletter can be endless if I thanked each and every one, so we all know who we are... it was great!

And today... Italuba is such a beautiful reality! Many many thanks.

We say goodbye to Italuba in Barcelona with 2 amazing nights at The Jazz Room (La Cova Del Drac) and I flew back to New York to rehearse a couple days with El Negro & Robby... and depart for a week at The Blue Note in Tokyo. It was amazing! We had Dave Valentin as a guest and the band had such a great time. Richie Flores on percussion, Bobby Franceschini on saxophone, and my brother Robby Ameen... what a week!

But the Caribbean was waiting for me... thank you, God! I went to Puerto Rico to play a concert with Michel Camilo at the Theater of The Fine Arts. What an audience! And - here's the best - a few days on the beach never hurt! So it was time for me to disconnect cellular phones (which I have never had!) and relax on Culevrita in PR and Majo in St John (which are beaches that you can only get to by boat!) What a dream!

So I was ready once again to jump in the plane... and I went to celebrate my birthday in Ireland with the BBC Big Band Orchestra with my brother Giovanni Hidalgo, also a guest of the band. Certainly my birthdays have become more and more interesting! I remember one in New Orleans with the Neville Brothers... and this year in Londonderry Island with the BBC...

And to complete my tour of the Blue Notes, I went with Michel Camilo to their newest one in Milan. It was very beautiful. Italy becomes home more and more... Beautiful!

So, fully recovered, I'm home for a couple of days, practicing to play in a clinic on Saturday...

And my Blue Note tour begins again!

Negro 5/04

Hi everybody!

At the beginning of October, I went to my annual clinic affair to the northwest. Great crowds in Mosco, Portland & Tacoma... but this time I had the pleasure to visit for the firt time Alaska! Great!

Then I rehearsed with a young, very promising Cuban pianist, Manuel Vallera, for his recording... It was as a trio that included John Patitucci on bass.

On October 21st, I flew to San Juan Puerto Rico to perform a "clinic" with Marc Quinones for Pearl at Villa Music. It turned into a double clinic / concert event! 1000 people came down which was twice as many as the room could hold! So we played for 500, while another 500 waited outside... and then we played for the next 500. The biggest satisfaction was to jam both of the sets was Dyron & his friends (at least 3 or 4 kids under 10 years old... and burning!! PR... you are the best!)

Beginning of November, I flew to Japan to play first with Kazumi Watanabe Trio... then with Masahiko Satoh Trio... next with Tetsuro Kawashimo Band... and then with Chie Ayado - who I had the pleasure to accompany for a Japanese Tour. In the middle of Chie's tour, we had a gig at Shinjuku Pit Inn with John Beasley Trio on a double bill with El Negro & Robby Band (that this time was just a quintet).

I came back home on December 3rd and then on the 8th flew to Europe (Torino, Italy) to rehearse for 2 days and go for the first 2 concerts of my dream band... Italuba. We had 2 great concerts... first in Lille, France and then at La Sosta (THE jazz club of Reggio, Calabria, Italy).

From there I went to Holland to get together for a couple of days with John Vandameulen who is one of the designers for Pearl Percussion... and an old friend from Afro Percussion days and who is now one of the principle designers for Pearl Percussion working on the design of the Clabells that are going to be my signature series of bells. Wail til you hear the sound and see the design!

While in Holland, I recorded 5 tunes for Martin Ver Donk's new record. Martin is the top Dutch percussion player. It was crazy! It took me 2 hours to set the drums... and I recorded the 5 tunes in 1 hour and 20 minutes!!

Once again, as I did 10 years ago, I spent Christmas in Rome, Italy... and from there I went to Orvieto, Italy for the winter version of Umbria Jazz Festival with El Negro & Robby. Terence Blanchard's drumer couldn't make it so I ended up playing with both bands at the festival. What a way to end the year playing!

Back home again on January 3rd... chill for a few days... played Birdland in New York City with Christian McBride Band... chilled for a few days again... and I just played IAJE with Michel Camillo (with whom I am nominated for a Grammy for Best Latin Jazz record).

I'm just packing my bags now to fly to Puerto Rico to play with Humberto Ramirez as part of his tribute to the music of Miles Davis. From Puerto Rico, I'm gonna fly to Toronto to do Ilario Duran's record. (Ilario is the incredible piano player on my Live At The Modern Drummer Fest 2000 video). From Toronto, I'm going straight to Boston to play 3 nights with Michel Camillo again at the Regatta Bar. The Grammy's are on the 8th... so the next newsletter will be the After-Grammy-Party.

See you then!
Negro 2/04

I'm used to making my newsletter from behind my drums, but now I'm in front of a mixing board. And from the mixing board today, I am mourning the passing of Ron Spagnardi... who I feel made a huge contribution to the drumming community. His support and love will be deeply missed. From the deepest of my heart, I send all the condolences to Isabel & Lori Spagnardi and the staff of Modern Drummer.

August - I flew to Japan on the 2nd to play with Kip Hanrahan's Conjure, which is a band that, besides having 4 percussion players (Richie Flores, Pedrito Martinez, Robby Ameen, and myself) also includes David Murray on tenor saxophone, Fernando Saunders along with Anthony Cox on bass, Billy Bang on violin, and also including poetry with West Coast Ishmael Reed.

So, just for the blackout, I came back home (thank God that drums don't need batteries!) and I saw myself on the 10th back on the plane returning to Japan for a few recordings. First with Chie Ayado and then with Japanese piano players Hiroshi Minami & Masahiko Sato. Coming back from Japan, I went straight from the airport to Tanglewood with Michel Camilo, which ended up being the best sounding room I have ever played! By the way... it's the home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

And then... right into the studio to start mixing a Negro & Robby live record that we recorded in Italy last summer. I interrupted my studio work on the 12th to drive up to Boston to pay tribute to my biggest idol Mr. Steve Gadd, and also to the late, great Armand Zildjian, which ended up being an amazing feast of drummers and music. It was particularly moving to see Steve being honored not only by every drummer in this world, but by other great musicians, producers and songwriters.

Then I went to Monterey, CA to play at the Jazz Festival with Michel Camilo... before playing for our own hometown. It was a beautiful night at BB King's, right on Times Square in the heart of the city. And now I'm just getting ready to fly to Alaska! (And I'm looking forward...)

I'll tell you next time,
Love, Negro 10/03

So after this wonderful dvd with my brother Giovanni Hidalgo, I took a day off in LA to buy my computer! I bought a laptop and I'm getting into all the music programs with it.

So from LA, I came back home to rehearse at the Avery Fisher Hall Flamenco Center for a show called The Cuban Jam which featured Paquito D'Rivera, Juan Pablo Torres and Cuban All-Star Orchestra. It was sort of a review about the Cuban culture and about Cuban rhythms and stuff.

From there I went to Utah for a drum clinic. And from Utah, I came back to New York to celebrate my birthday! A big big party at the Bowery Ballroom... then the day after I went to Boston to play with Michel Camilo at The Regatta Bar for the weekend (and to continue celebrating my 40th birthday with all my friends from Zildjian that came out.)

Then one day home and then off to Europe with Michel Camilo where we did a European TV show in Madrid, Spain. Then to Switzerland for a Jazz Festival... then back to Spain to play another two concerts... and then to Torino Italy to make my second solo record with my band Italuba - which came out fantastic (and I still can't wait til the first comes out!). But soon the second will be out... and in the meantime I will keep doing them just to fulfill my musical desires.

After Italuba I came home for a few days and just missed the Modern Drummer Festival 'cause I was doing Skip's Drum Expo in Sacramento but I had the chance to come back Sunday night and have a drink with Ron & Isabelle Spagnardi, and bring a few friends to the house to show them my lovely studio.

So I am preparing now to start a record tomorrow with Katsumi Watanabe, the fantastic guitar legend. So now that it is summer and is beautiful weather I will be buried inside a studio! So you guys enjoy for me...

From there, just to continue on my file of great guitarists, I'm going to Germany with Bill Frisell & Marc Ribots for a whole week. Then I'm going to finally have 4 days off! The Jazz Festival in Santo Domingo got totally canceled because the bank that was going to sponsor it went in bankruptcy.

So trying to continue the Caribbean trip I'm going to my home, Cuba in Cayo Coco, to be a part of the KOSA Festival and to enjoy this beautiful paradise where it is going to be held, so if any of you guys have a need for the sun and for some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and, of course alotta lotta drumming... join us for the KOSA trip to Cayo Coco!

I hope to see you there. Otherwise you will hear from me on the next letter...

so make sure to keep practicing,
Negro 6/03

The most important news of the last month... my brother Robby Ameen is a father again! A beautiful baby named Lucia and I encourage you all to send him your congratulations for being a father!

It has been a very exciting month mixing 2 or 3 projects at the same time - mixing my new record with Robby (of El Negro & Robby), and then mixing the video of the 25th Anniversary of the Drummers Collective.... and I don't remember what other records I was mixing too! Was too crazy!

Then we did the live album with Michel Camillo, Live At The Blue Note. We played there for a whole week. It was incredible! It was very nice to play home, like once a year we do for all our friends. Thanks to people from Boston, Chicago, & North Carolina that came to New York just to see us. The record is coming out killin'! We recorded 4 or 5 nights... both shows. Michel is very, very happy. A double cd that will be titled Michel Camillo Trio Live At The Blue Note.

I used some of the songs from the recording to do this video... we are in the process of doing a series of videos for Warner Brothers. One with Giovanni Hidalgo and the other is an instructional video - my instructional video from the book of Conversations In Clave.

I'm now exhausted after finishing these two days of recording. Yesterday we recorded the work with Giovanni in this beautiful studio, NRG, in LA. It has a little bit of a morroccan vibe... check out the photos coming very soon and you'll see why we are now calling the video "Live From Baghdad"!

See you next month,

Be happy! Play drums!
Negro 4/03

On February 6th (thru the 8th), I played a great concert with Hilario Duran (the piano player from my 2000 Modern Drummer video) in Toronto... and from Toronto, I flew to Puerto Rico to record with Humberto Ramirez, sharing the percussion duties with my brother Richie Flores. I flew home for a couple days... and then to Miami to do a recording that is definitely one of the best drum sound I ever had! The music was very inspiring... and challenging, too! I'm talking about Alejandro Sanz new record, which I had the pleasure to share with Vinnie Colaiuta.

After 5 days in Miami (no time for the beach!), I flew to Europe for the Michel Camilo European Winter Tour. Thanks to all our friends from Rome, Milan, Madrid, Valencia, Bilbao, Nuremberg, Istanbul and Copenhagen for coming out to the shows!

And at the moment I am rehearsing for the Michel Camilo Live At The Blue Note record. So come out... we'll be there for the whole week. And for the end of the month, we'll be mixing the 2nd El Negro & Robby record... it's very exciting! (Pam grabbed me by the neck to make this newsletter happen!! So it will be less than before, but still good...)

I'll see you in Rotterdam... the 1st day for El Negro & Robby in Europe!

Keep practicing...
Negro 3/03

ps... my schedule is now up.

By the way, Happy Valentine's Day everybody!

We went into the studio to record the second album of El Negro and Robby... composing, arranging and recording 10 songs in 3 days... what a rush!

Then hallelula! a few days off!! And back to the studio for 1 day to record some music with our friend Damon Grant... a record that also features Richie Flores.

Right after packing for the NAMM show, I had 1 more stop in New York with my dear friend John Pattitucci and his wife Sachi, Marc Quinonnes, Ed Simon and Mark Turner for, of all things, an audition for a Dentine Ice commercial... so if you see us on tv, don't get scared!

Then off to the NAMM show to introduce my new line of signature sticks with Zildjian... soon they will be in the stores! As always it was great to see all my friends at NAMM. It was very moving to be able to participate in a jam supporting children with disabilities, organized by our dear friend Eddie Tudori. It was amazing to see how percussion can make smiles... and how percussion can wake up senses in children with disabilities!

Came home... back into the studio with El Negro & Robby and then a recording with Mark Riebot, the guitar wizard. Later in the week, rehearsal with Joanne Brackeen to prepare for a 3 day engagement at the Jazz Standard with Joanne's band featuring Ravi Coltrane where I had a surprise visit of my friend Vinnie Colaiuta, among many other drummers.

During sound check, a funky smell started to drift my way. Behind the stage there was a storage room where I thought the smell was coming from... what a surprise it was to find out that the funky smell was coming out of my bass drum! Three little mice, trying to find warmth, had hid and then got trapped in there. So here's some advice... if you leave your drums in an outside garage with no cases, please close the holes where the tom holders go in... or you too can have 3 blind mice!

By the way... this newsletter was done from the shower! I'm running to the airport to go to Toronto...

Keep practicing...

Love,
Negro 2/03

Negro's Musings - Diving into 2003! ....

November was definitely a busy month. From the first day, I did 3 clinics in the Northwest (Washington, Idaho, and Oregon). I returned home on the 5th... and on the 6th departed to Europe with Michel Camillo for the 2nd leg of the European tour, which involved Spain and Germany. On the 22nd, I returned home and had a day to practice for the big day - the 25th Anniversary of the Drummer's Collective... which, for me, was like playing at the Oscars of drumming! It was a big honor to share the stage with many of my biggest idols... Steve Gadd, Steve Smith, Dave Weckl and others. It was very moving also to be a part of the tribute to the drummers of the Firefighters of New York (maybe we never thought about there were drummers amongst them!)

Then my supposed-to-be video with Giovanni Hidalgo got canceled... so I hope it will happen soon! Next I went into the studio to record flute player Colette Michaas' debut record. Musicians included Richard Bona, bass, Oriente Lopez, piano (who also played with me & John Pattitucci on the Drummer's Collective Anniversary).

And then, one more time, I became a house drummer... but this time it was really at home! Seven different artists came to the Havana Jazz Festival without a drummer. I couldn't let my Cuba fellas go without rhythm! It was very busy, sometimes playing in 3 different theaters on the same night! The bands were: Roy Hargrove, David Sanchez, James Bunnett, Steve Turre, Arturo O'Farrill, piano player Ronnie Matthews and singer Roberta Gamberini.

So from my homey rice and beans, I went into a sushi frenzy with El Negro and Robby for 2 big concerts at the Tokyo Forum, accompanying Chie Ayado, and one band performance at Club Cay of Tokyo. So after spending Christmas in Japan, we returned on the 28th, just in time for partying into the New Year, and start on the 2nd the second album of El Negro & Robby. We already have 11 new great songs and will probably go back into the studio the end of January... so hopefully the record will be out in June.

New El Negro and Robby at the Third World War cd is now on the www.elnegro.com site! Sound Clips and more... I hope everyone who has ordered a copy is enjoying it!

To all my drummer friends around the world... Healthy, Happy, & Prosperous New Year

Keep practicing... and keep having fun with your drums!

Negro 1/03

New El Negro and Robby at the Third World War cd is now on the www.elnegro.com site! Sound Clips and more..

Happy Holidays!
Negro 12/02

Happy Happy Halloween, People! It's been awhile, but we're back!

Very proud to finally have our own band happening. We were in Japan at the very end of July for a week & a half, playing, I think was 3 shows, as an opening band for our good friend Chie Ayado... and we played the first 2 concerts for 5000 people and the last for 17,000! So now we are sort of a rock 'n roll band (ha ha ha).

Then I went back to New York for 2 days and flew to England for my first UK Tour. I would love to thank Mike Dolbear and Louise King... I had a great time! Also playing the Rhythm Course in the beautiful town of Bath...

And from there I continued a few dates with Jack Bruce in England and Germany... then we went back to England to record with Jack. Congratulations to the British for having these countryside recording studios where bands become family!

Then Spain to do all the filming for The Virtual Drummer School that is gonna be very soon... so if you guys want to have lessons, please just click on www.virtualdrummerschool.com

From Spain, I went to Paris to play a concert at the Cita De La Musique with Joachim Kuhn (featuring Charnett Mofett on bass). Then back home where we performed with our band (me and Robby Ameen) for the first time at The Knitting Factory and it was such a great experience where we had the chance to introduce our band to our friends for the first time!

Then on September 20, I played at the Chicago World Music Festival with a very funky and friendly band named Yerba Buena. Then the morning after I took a plane back to New York to play at Battery Park with Michel Camillo as part of the New York JVC Jazz Festival.

Next we went to Japan for 3 weeks... we played in Tokyo, Fukuoka & Osaka. Then I went to Yokohama to play with the Tokyo Zawinul Bach (the Japanese electronic band I told you about before).

Back to New York... studio time! for Jack Bruce's new album. Having to interrupt the recording to go to funky New Orleans with Michel Camillo for 1 performance at Loyola University... Great crowd! Great audience!

And then back to New York to play 2 nights with Jack Bruce at BB King's. Then a plane to Santo Domingo for a celebration of the movie "Calle 54"... four days with my buddy Giovanni Hidalgo and 1 day at home... then a beautiful clinic at Portland Music.

Then to San Francisco Jazz Festival... and now I'm back to Portland for 2 more clinics in different states! 1 in Idaho (Music Machine, Kennewick, WA) and 1 in Washington (Keeney Bros Music, Moscow, ID)

For now guys... I'll be in touch. And by the way... this is probably the biggest honor I've ever had! To be able to play a concert with my idols at the 25th Anniversary of Drummer's Collective - which I consider the best and only drum school in the biggest city in the world! (So I'm sorry Pam... for you now live in LA.)

I hope to see you there!

Negro 11/02

Hi everybody!

What a crazy few months these have been! On March 22, I departed to Verona, Italy to be a part of the Sound Expo 2002 where I had a great time playing 5 shows... just bass & drums with the one and only Daryl Jones! What a great time with such a great bass player! Then from the 25th - 28th, I did my first solo record... with a quartet that I named Italuba. It came out a wonderful, wonderful record that soon is going to be in the process of mixing. From there, I went to France with virtuoso piano player Joachim Kuhn and bass player Scott Colley for 2 sold-out shows in Paris & Nines.

Then from Paris, I flew to Japan to meet Jack Bruce and play for a week at 2 Blue Note Jazz clubs in Japan. Then from Japan, I went back home... straight into the studio to finish mixing the record with Robby Ameen (which is complete!) at the 3rd World War. It is a record where we have a million guests and will be first out in Japan in July. Coming to my website soon after that...

Then after the success of Michel Camillo's new record called "Triangulo", his world tour started in Monte Carlo, Monaco... what a beautiful place!

I came back home and did a clinic at The University Center for The Arts in Philadelphia as part of their Day Of Percussion.

On April 30, I went back with Michel to play our annual engagement in New York City... the Blue Note, of course. Then the week after, I played 4 songs at a department store in New York (that brings me back together with bass player Santi DeBriano and Brazilian piano player Elio Alves, that, believe it or not, even pays better than the most permanent jazz clubs in town!

Same week, I also reunite with my friend, piano player Arturo O'Farrill for one night at Birdland... and here I am in Salt Lake City where we will play tonite with Michel Camillo. From here we go to La La land for a week at Catalina's... and unfortunately is the same week as the Modern Drummer Fest, so I will miss a lot of my friends at home and also in LA... but you won't escape from me! I will keep going around... so I will see you soon!

Negro 6/02

This month started with a visit to the candy store... the Zildjian Factory! I came back home with lots of new cymbals... mostly K's & A's. I got 18", 17", 16", 15", and 14" in K Dark Crash Thins and the same sizes in the A Custom Fast Crashes, and 3 hi-hats (13" & 14" K and 12" A)... no ride cymbals this time.

Then I took a plane with my good friend Richie Flores to Holland for the Slagwerk Festival (also called the Big Bang). Definitely I would love to congratulate all the Dutch guys... especially Erik Willemsen... for such a great opportunity and such a great organization! For this year's event they put together an amazing world music ensemble that included on percussion Richie Flores, Bruno Genaro (an Italian Djembe Specialist), myself on drums and Abel Sanabria (who plays vocal percussion). Our main duty was to accompany an amazing female vocal quartet named Zap Mama. We played 4 full-house concerts all around Holland and the program included a great drum duet called The Drumbassadors lead by Renee Cremes. By the way, the accommodations were amazing! So I had a beautiful hotel suite / apartment for 10 days in Amsterdam while making this great music!

From Amsterdam I went to Tokyo (thank God I was upgraded to 1st Class 'cause it was a 14-hour flight!) for a couple of records and a promotional appearance at Tower Records with Robby Ameen. We were surprised to see how many people showed up! ... including our best friend Tommy Campbell, who seems to be the busiest drummer in Japan. One of the recordings was with a very popular singer in Japan named Chie Ayado, and the other one was with a super electronic avant gard duo named Tokyo Zawinul Bach - which was for me a big remembrance of my favorite band Weather Report and all the drummers that played with them... Eddie Gravatt, Dom Um Romao, Chester Thompson, Alex Acuna, Peter Erskine, Omar Hakim, and a few more that I can't think of right now. I'm really looking forward to the release of this record!

Then from Tokyo, another 14 hours going back to Amsterdam to change planes for Milano Italy and a week clinic tour... that for a surprise, it became a clinic-tour / concert. For a great surprise, I found 4 great Cuban musicians living in Torino, Italy and we made a band! I always wanted to thank the Italian people for the time that I lived there and I think the band is the best way! The name of the band is Italuba... which is a mix between Italy & Cuba. We're planning to make our first record at the very last week of March, since I'm going back to Italy to play duets with bass extraordinare Daryl Jones (bass player for Rolling Stones, Sting, (the man) Miles Davis, and more).

Now I'm home for 2 weeks and I'm going into the studio with trombone and composer wizard, Papo Vasquez, and then... back to Italy.

Ciao!
El Negro 3/02

So at the beginning of December, I went to Chile... (the southest of the world I've ever been!) for the first Percussion Festival organized by Escuela SCD. The organizer, Roberto Zamora, and his crew did a great job! And who did I find in Chile (the southest of the world I've been)... my good friend Will Calhoun, who was also attending the festival.

Then I returned to New York for the beginning of 4 dates with Jack Bruce in the US. We played first at BB King's in NY and it was great to play to the "home boys". Then we went to the "Blues City", Chicago... then the Galaxy Theater in Santa Ana, Ca and the last was the House of Blues in Los Angeles. That night, Pam's baby bike got stuck on the side of the road and she missed my show... and the party! So we have no pictures!!

A week off at home... thank god! Then I headed to Japan with Robby Ameen to start promoting our record which is coming out, we hope, by March... and also to play with a Japanese singer and piano player named Chie Ayado (who is a wonderful performer!). We did a television special with both Robby and me playing drums with her... we had a blast! (In Japan, they call me "Toro" which is the name of chunks of raw tuna sashimi... and by the way I am a Taurus!)

Then off to NAMM in Los Angeles. I had so much fun I went twice! I had a gig with Los Cubanos Postizos on Friday night, so I flew home on Thursday night... played on Friday night... then flew back to LA on Saturday morning!

The great tabla player Sondip Burman (Bela Fleck and many more!) came to my house for a couple days so we could play together. It was an amazing thing to collaborate with him on tabla!

Then off to Boston and the Zildjian factory. I was so honored that John King came to dinner with us (at a wonderful Cuban restaurant!). I picked out a few beautiful cymbals and then rushed home to leave for Amsterdam to play with Zap Mama. I am now preparing to go into rehearsals with Zap Mama (from Belgium) as part of the European Percussion Festival, The Big Bang (with 4 dates in Holland).

Then I pack up and go to Tokyo... then off to a clinic tour in Italy.

Have a very happy and healthy New Year. Let's keep in our prayers the ones that are here with us... and the ones that are no longer.

El Negro 2/02

I've been home for a minute... it's been a nice break from my usual insanity (yeah, right!)

It was a big pleasure and an inspiration again to see Stewart Copeland and his band Oysterhead. I opened 2 nights for them at Roseland Ballroom with Mark Ribot y Los Cubanos Postizos... and Stewart sounded amazing!

Then I played solo drums for the first time in 6 months! I've been playing with bands for a long time and it was wonderful to be back into the "drum party"! Cascio Music in Kentucky... it was an organized and very nice evening that included Dom Famularo, Zoro, Hilary Jones, Charlie Adams, and myself. Everyone sounded great... but the winner, I think, was the wonderful audience that stayed for 6 hours inside a store listening to crazy people banging drums!

I did a couple of sessions... one with a new band called Yerbabuena that includes a mix of Afro-Cuban HipHop musicians from New York City, and another with piano player John Di Martino in which I used a Rhythm Traveler bass drum (20"x10") and snare (13"x5"... I think). And they sounded great in the studio!

I've been home starting a new project with Cuban guitar player Octavio Kotan, and now I'm getting ready to go to Chile and then we do 4 dates with Jack Bruce in the states (The dates are in my itinerary on my website... www.ElNegro.com)

I hope turkey was tasty for everyone!

Peace & Love ('cause we still need it!)
Negro 12/01

What can I tell you... I can only say that I had the gift from God to have my mother in a gorgeous theater in Madrid, Spain while I was on the stage with Michel Camillo. It is the first time she's had the chance to get out of Cuba. Once in a lifetime! (And after seeing us eat after the show, my mother no longer worries about me! Well... not as much, anyway.)

On September 11th, Robby Ameen and myself were supposed to record the Rolling Stones song "Sympathy for the Devil", and of course the recording was cancelled. But we were able to do it on the 15th. (The studio is 10 blocks from the World Trade Center.)

Then on the 26th, Richie Flores, Robby Ameen and myself started the European leg of the Jack Bruce Tour. It definitely captured the heart of every drummer in this planet! It is 2 drumset players and a percussion player having the opportunity to play and create with a guy who is an innovator and an artist! So the result is a world music hybrid that involves from Pop to Reggae... some Rock to Afro-Cuban... from Jazz to Middle Eastern... Drum Heaven!!

The Michel Camillo tour was a surprise. It was awful to hear that our regular bass player, Anthony Jackson, broke his elbow a few days before the tour started! We were very lucky to have James Genus available at the very last moment! He did an incredible job and we had a lot of fun playing together.

Last night I played with John Patitucci at Sculler's in Boston. It's been a great experience for me to switch from band to band and from style to style... sometimes playing really hard and loud... sometimes playing really hard and soft... but always trying to make music!

Peace & Love ('cause we need it!)
Negro 11/01

The first day of August, I went to the studio to record a new Michel Camillo album that will come out the beginning of next year. Then I had a busy in-town of Bill Summers and Los Hombres Calientes. They had a great show at SOB's and I sat in with them.

The middle of the month I went to Puerto Rico for 5 days to record an album with Juan Carlos de Brmudo of Rock en Espanol (which is like a very happening young style).

From there I went to Austria with Henry Threadgill... which includes a lot of odd time signatures. And then to Holland to do an album with my fellow countryman and piano player Ramon Valle.

In the beginning of September, I went again to Colombia, but this time with the trio of Hilario Duran (which is the monster piano player you have seen on my new Modern Drummer Festival video!).

And then I came back from Colombia on September 9... all of you guys know the horrible events of September 11 and thank god I was home for that time.

Then I was supposed to fly to Boston to play with Joanne Braceen, but it was canceled. Since then, I've been home... preparing to leave today to an almost 2-month in Europe. The first month I'll be with Jack Bruce and the second leg will be with Michel Camillo.

Attention German Friends! If you remember singing Happy Birthday to me at Drums & Sounds in Koblenz almost 2 years ago, you will remember me promising you to make you a part of my next record... and it's almost done! And it's sounding great! It's gonna be a 2-drummers record... myself & Robby Ameen. We already recorded all the tracks (and by the way... the morning of September 11, we were going to the studio to do the last track. It was going to be a version of Sympathy For The Devil that Ruben Blades is going to sing for us. So that morning, the devil itself stopped us from being able to record. But we did it 3 days after! So now we are in the process of adding vocals and then mix.) But it's sounding really great... I'm really into it!

Til Next Time... Let's all pray together hoping for a peaceful world.
Negro 10/01

The first days of June, I finished a record with "The Keith Jarrett of Europe". He's an amazing German piano player named Joachim Kuhn. And right after that, I went on a trip to Israel with Michel Camillo. The trip to Israel with Michel, where we played in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, was right in the middle of all this crazy conflict. It's amazing to be able to get people to forget their pain... at least for 2 hours!

Then the week after, we went to Colombia and we played Medellin and Bogota... same as Israel, they are going through hard times and it was great to have the opportunity to be there to help.

And here they come... my crazy travels around the world! From Colombia, I went to London for the special press release presentation of the new Jack Bruce record featuring Eric Clapton, Dr. John, Vernon Reid, myself & Robby Ameen on drums... 2 drummers at the same time in the whole thing!... also Changuito! And from this concert in London, I went to Istanbul Turkey for my second concert over there with Fahir Atakoglu... for 4000 people!

On June 24, we had a great concert at The Beacon Theater in New York City celebrating the success of the film, Calle 54. There was Jerry Gonzalez and his band featuring Steve Berrios on drums and Eliane Elias Trio featuring Satoshi Takeishi on drums. Then Gato Barbieri with Robby Gonzalez on drums and Frank Colon on percussion. Then Michel Camillo Trio with myself on drums. And then Paquito D'Rivera with Mark Walker on drums with Pedro Martinez & Roman on percussion.

Then I went to the Berklee World Percussion Festival at the Berklee School of Music... my 7th year at the festival! Imagine... I have been there since the creation of the festival! It was, as always, a real pleasure. And what a team Dean Anderson had! There was Walfredo Reyes Sr, Giovanni Hidalgo, Trichi Shankaran, John Santos... Giovanni and I had a clinic and a concert on Thursday that was deeply dedicated from the bottom of our hearts to our friend Steve Ettelson, who recently passed away and who will live forever in our hearts.

From Boston, I flew to Miami to film a video with 2 very dear friends of mine. Dig who... Karl Perazzo & Raul Rekow! We did a couple of videos for Warner Brothers. The first one about the music (the role of percussion) of Santana's Super Natural album. The second one is just the 3 of us having fun!

Then I played a concert in France with Deep Rumba... I call this band "The Mental Hospital"! 2 drummers, 5 percussion players, 1 bass, 1 violin, and 1 singer!

And from there we went to Holland to the North Sea Jazz Festival where I played twice... once with Deep Rumba & once with Jack Bruce.

And then I came back home and on Monday, the 23rd, I played with a quartet on the memorial for our friend Steve. That same night, I got the horrible news that my father had passed away... Dealing with the pain, tomorrow I go into the studio with Michel to start on his new record... So I will let you know.

Til Next Time... bye bye!
Negro 08/01

Michel Camilo is back! (He did a record with Spanish Flamenco guitar player Tomatito - means "Little Tomatoe" in Spanish). They were touring for a year with just piano and guitar... so I said to Michel "Enough tomatoe! We need some ketchup and mustard!!" And finally Michel is back with the trio (Anthony Jackson on bass). So we played the Blue Note (May 8-13) and it was great to finally play the music... after recording it over a year ago! It was also a celebration of the coming out of the movie "Calle 54", which is a movie about the history and main components of Latin Jazz (Tito, Chucho Valdez, Michel Camilo, Jerry Gonzales, Paquito D'Rivera and many many more.)

On the 14th, I traveled to Japan to play with Kip Hanrahan Deep Rumba, which is a percussive mental hospital that features Changito, Richie Flores, Robby Ameen & myself on drums, 3 or 4 more percussion players and whoever else wants to be in the band! (Last year's special guest was Chad Smith.)

Right after that I had the most horrible trip in my life! So I flew from Japan to New York... was home 4 hours... and then I flew from New York to Paris... I had a delay in the French airport for 5 hours!! And then flew to Luxembourg... And we played with Michel 2 hours! Nonstop!! Then we went to France, and I just flew back home yesterday.

And today I rehearsed with Joachim Kuhn (a brother from the no-longer-existing East Germany who, by the way, has been the piano player for Ornette Coleman, Billy Cobham and many more.) We are ready to go tomorrow morning to the studio!

So please wish me a good session 'cause I need it!

Until next time...
Just don’t stop practicing!

06/01

This time Mother Nature canceled twice the clinic that was supposed to be at Drummer's Collective... 2 heavy snow days in New York. So it seems that snow & drums don't go together... especially for people from the Caribbean! But it's gonna happen... Thursday, April 12. We hope it won't snow!

So then I went to San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego & Chicago for a small clinic tour with Richie Flores... The Hurricane! We had a lot of fun. Many friends came to see us, especially San Francisco... Karl Perazzo, Jesus Diaz!

Right after that, I rehearsed one day and recorded 3 days with John Patitucci. The record will feature also Marc Quinones on percussion. Since we did my last Modern Drummer video, we have become "a real percussion section"!

The day after we finished John's record, I went into the studio with Juan Carlos Formell, which is a Cuban singer / songwriter, and son of the leader of a band called Los Van Van (they are the Michael Jacksons of Cuba!).

After that, I went into a different studio... this time putting together a project of my own with one of the producers & engineers of The Wu Tang Clan... We goin' Rap, too

Two days after that, I had a very fun week playing with the legend Eddie Palmieri at The Blue Note in New York. Richie (Flores) was on congas, too... it's a blessing to play with such a maestro!

3 days off!! ... to learn the music of Fahir Atakoglu, which is a master musician & composer commissioned by the Turkish government to write the music for the celebrations of the 75th anniversary of the Turkish Revolution. It was a great experience for me because all Turkish music is based on odd times.. 5/8, 9/8, 10/8. But it was great to see how they can make beautiful music - that people who are not musicians can understand - while using all these complicated rhythms! While in Istanbul, I was very honored to do the first drum clinic EVER in Turkey! They have a drum club (a school and an organization) that is very, very happening! And they were super-nice people!

From Turkey, I flew to Italy where in 10 days I did... 1 seminar, 1 clinic, 1 record & 10 concerts! It was a beautiful tour of Italy, as always... but, as you can imagine, very busy!

Got home from Italy 2 days ago, and yesterday I went to Buffalo, NY to play at Maelstrom Percussion and The Maelstrom Percussion Festival.

Now I have 2 days at home... and a gumbo waiting for me Wednesday morning in New Orleans (to play with Bill Summers). I'll see you there!

Just don’t stop practicing!
El Negro 4/01

ps... My website is finally back up... and is being updated with all the info on my new book "Conversations In Clave", my video "Live At The Modern Drummer Festival 2000", and the new cd with Giovanni Hidalgo "Traveling Through Time "

Big thanks to Hudson Video and Regal Tip sticks! They donated my video & signature sticks as prizes for the "El Negro Trivia Contest" on the DrumsOnTheWeb.com site! I hope you had fun with the contest... here's the lucky winners:

Diane Jones, Aptos, CA; Joey "sticks" Kelich, Freehold, NJ; Michael D. Mathew, Commerce, TX; Jim Dwyer, Ontario, Canada; Gaelyn Larrick, Ashland, OR; Adam Rugo, St. Louis, MO; Jonathan Oliver, New Haven, CT; Tommy S. Campbell, Salyersville, KY; Paul Maringelli, Long Island City, NY

I'm home for a minute... getting ready for my clinic at Drummer's Collective. It's been so busy lately, I'm not sure I remember everywhere I've been! Let's see... I went to New Orleans to record with Los Hombres Caliente (which is a mix of New Orleans, Jazz & Latin music... lead by percussion legend Bill Summers).

Then to Sao Paolo... my first time in Brazil! Next I recorded with Charles Flores (a great, young bass player who just came from Cuba). Then I played with my "blues connection", Larry Baeder, in New York City.

Then off to Spain with Gabriella Anders. A great surprise... I found Jerry Gonzales and we jammed for 4 days with all the Spanish gypsies (played Flamenco music). It was my brother's birthday and I played (a little late) Santa and brought all of my brother's presents

Next... I got stuck in Cincinnati because of snow! I was trying to go to the House of Blues with Los Hombres Caliente... oooops!

Then it was 3 days in the studio with Robby Ameen, writing the music and recording our Drummer's Duo record. We already have half of the record! Look for it... it's very spontaneous music! Played 2 sold-out shows at Tonic in New York City with Los Cubanos Postizos (Marc Ribot, guitar). This was the first time I played with them... it's Afro-Cuban music and they kind of remake the music of Arsenio Rodriguez.

Home for a week!! It was great!

Then to New Orleans to finish the Los Hombres Caliente record... Back to New York for a gig with Hiram Bullock (guitar), James Hurt (keyboard) and Sergio Drandao (bass). Then played the opening ceremony and a drum clinic at IAJE (International Association of Jazz Educators) with John Pattitucci. We had to go to Boston for a gig... in between the opening ceremony & my drum clinic! IAJE was a lot of fun... got to hang out with Steve Houghton, Dave Weckl, Adam Nussbaum, Wil Calhoun, Roy Haynes, John Santos, Bobby Sanabria...

Did a gig with Los Hombres Caliente in Traverse, MI... then it was off to Japan with Los Cubanos Postizos. I was able to see my good friend Tommy Campbell and ate lots of sushi!

Back in NY, I attended a screening at ASCAP of a film by Ivan Acosta... "Como Se Forma Una Rumba" (How To Make A Rumba / The Making Of A Rumba). It's a great documentary about a concert we (a lot of Cuban musicians) performed at Town Hall in New York City.

Then played Lincoln Center with Gabriel Anders (Mark Whitfield, guitar)....

Now I have to get ready for my clinic at Drummers Collective... I am very honored to be playing in a place that some of the best drummers come out of!

Fabio says Hi! to Freddie Gruber!

Just don’t stop practicing...
El Negro 2/01

It's been so busy, it's hard to remember all the amazing things I've been doing lately! I saw Efrain Toro twice... at Berklee & Kosa. It was great to be able to be a part of his classes and see such a master! (Note from Pam.... Efrain is currently seeking a teaching position at the college level. Wherever he lands... you should definitely seek him out!)

The last concert at Berklee was with Srinivas & Global Rhythms... an ensemble of tablas, mrdangan (the indian instrument that Trichy plays) and kanjiras. Then Efrain & I sat in with Global Rhythms and it was a real world experience! I played drumset and Efrain played cajon.

Summer NAMM (I call it Summer JAMM) was a good surprise because it's alot bigger than what I thought. We had the chance to celebrate our buddy, Mike Farris' birthday with the Pearl Percussion extravaganza! Glen Caruba, Archie Pena, myself, Lalo Davila & Zoro (as guest). We were witnesses of the incredible talent of 12 year old Mike D'Angelo. After he played... nobody else wanted to play! (I wish I were 12 again!)

Kosa was as always a big drummer's hang... and for me, very special because I got my lessons! (being with Efrain... and I played a duet concert with Giovanni Hidalgo)

Been out with a million people... as a matter of fact, I'm packing my bags now to fly in a few hours to Israel! Wish me luck!

Just don’t stop practicing... and buy my new video!
El Negro 9/00