Chembo Corniel And Grupo Chawaro Performing Buena Gente

by chipboaz on December 6, 2016

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Latin Jazz has certainly been built on the backs of percussionists. There have been plenty of different musicians involved in Latin Jazz – trumpet players, piano players, saxophone players, bass players, trombone players, and more. All musicians have played a part in the music, but there’s no doubt that percussionists have been a driving force. Band leaders like Tito Puente, Ray Barretto, and Mongo Santamaria have been icons that people associate strongly with Latin Jazz. They’ve awed audiences with their rhythmic mastery, they’ve introduced the world to strong players as sidemen, and they’ve caught people’s eyes as some of the world’s best showmen. They’ve solidified the style, giving the world both sights and sounds that they could remember; these memories cemented Latin Jazz into the consciousness of people around the world. When most of the world thinks about Latin Jazz, they think of percussionists.

In the modern world, percussionists are still the backbone of Latin Jazz and one of the strong links in the music today is Chembo Corniel. As a child in New York, Corniel studied with heavy percussionists such as Tommy Lopez Sr. and Cachete Maldonado. This inspired him to further schooling at The Harbor Conservatory for the Performing Arts and La Escuela Nacional de Arte, where he worked with Chucho Valdés. Since that time, Corniel has garnered a reputation as one of the most knowledgeable and versatile percussionists, adding a good does of musicianship to everything that he does. He has played as a sideman with Latin Jazz leaders Hilton Ruiz, Chris Washburne, Larry Harlow, and Bobby Sanabria, always making his voice known. Corniel currently leads his own group, recording and performing with a group that includes Latin Jazz luminaries Elio Villafranca, Ivan Renta, and Vince Cherico. His 2009 album Things I Wanted to Do earned a Grammy Nomination for Best Latin Jazz Album, followed by Afro Blue Monk and Land Of The Descendants. With strong percussion chops, flawless musicianship, and a strong identity as a leader, Corniel continues the tradition of strong percussionists at the center of Latin Jazz.

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