Artist Profiles: Edwin Bonilla

Edwin Bonilla

Edwin Bonilla was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico and transplanted to Elizabeth, New Jersey, at the age of four. Aside from the Puerto Rican “jibaro,” or countryside music, his parents often played at home, he listened to Motown, R&B, and rock during his preteen years. By the time he was 11 years of age, Edwin began to pay more attention to the music of New York figures such as Ray Barretto, Eddie Palmieri, Willie Colón and the rest of the emerging Salsa groups. The process of self-learning timbales started at 13 years of age. Within a year, he was already playing professionally with a trio that mostly played “jibaro” music in Elizabeth, which eventually led to work with Salsa bands.

At 15 years of age Edwin started playing with a local band called Orquesta Sonica that featured two youngsters who are well know today, Jimmy Bosch on trombone and Herman Oliveras on vocals. While playing with several groups, Edwin studied at the Drummers Collective in New York.

In 1981, he joined the Charanga Casino that was extremely popular throughout America’s Northeast and Miami during the early 1980’s. The experiences in the Charanga Casino led to further learning of Cuban music as he was exposed to Afro-Cuban rhythms early on during the frequent. By then, Edwin was into Cuban septets, traditional and “tipico” ensembles.

While performing with the Charanga Casino, he caught the eye of Hansel Martinez who invited him to join him and Raul, whereupon Edwin moved to Miami in 1987.

As a percussionist, Edwin is familiar with rhythmic patterns from all over the world. His professional experiences include performances and recordings in Jazz, Rock, Soca, Pop, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Indian and Brazilian music. He has participated in more than 1000 recordings during the last 12 years. He has done work for videos, movie scores and jingles. In 1999, “Edwin y su Son” was his first solo release. In March 2002 Edwin released “Soy la Candela.”

He has one of the most impressive resumes in the music industry. He has worked for such distinguished and popular figures as Lenny Kravitz, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Arturo Sandoval, N’Sync, Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, Madonna, Dave Grusin, Gloria Estefan, Patty Labelle, Quincy Jones, Nestor Torres, Giovanni Hidalgo, Gypsy Kings and Stevie Wonder among a host of others.

Discography:

Edwin y Su Son (SAR Productions, 1999)
Soy La Candela (SAR Records, 2002)
Pa’ La Calle (SAR Records, 2004)
Tirando Pa’ Charanga (SAR Records, 2006)
Homenaje A Los Rumberos (Sonic Projects Records, 2010)
Back To Basics (Sonic Projects Records, 2015)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.
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