Tag Archives: United States of America

Artist Profiles: Rebirth Brass Band

Rebirth Brass Band

New Orleans ensemble Rebirth Brass Band was formed in 1983. The group carries musical tradition through the decades with a revolving cast of musicians.

Brothers Philip and Keith Frazier and their friend Kermit Ruffins first started the band with members of the Joseph S. Clark Senior High School marching band. Rebirth has recorded many albums won a Grammy and toured Europe and the U.S.

Rebirth Brass Band has seen its share of hardships. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated their home city including the neighborhood of Treme which is now widely known due to the HBO TV series of the same name which followed neighborhood citizens as they rebuilt their homes and lives. Through the years Rebirth Brass Band which was featured in the series has used music to create hope unity and a sense of place even while marching around the world.


Here to Stay! (Arhoolie Records, 1984)
Feel Like Funkin’ It Up (Rounder Records, 1989)
Do Whatcha Wanna (Mardi Gras Records, 1991)
Rebirth Kickin’ It Live (Rounder Records, 1991)
Take It To The Street (Rounder Records, 1992)
Rollin’ (Rounder Records, 1994)
We Come To Party (Shanachie, 1997)
Main Event: Live At The Maple Leaf (Mardi Gras Records, 1999)
Hot Venom (Mardi Gras Records, 2001)
Rebirth for Life (2004)
Ultimate Rebirth Brass Band (Mardi Gras Records, 2004)
Throwback (Basin Street Records, 2005)
25! 25th Anniversary Album (2008)
Rebirth of New Orleans (Basin Street Records, 2011)
Move Your Body (Basin Street Records, 2014)


Never A Dull Moment (2007)


Artist Profiles: Rebeca Mauleon

Rebeca Mauleon

Rebeca Mauleon is a prolific pianist composer arranger as well as author and educator. She has performed with acclaimed luminaries Latin, rock, pop and world music artists, including Carlos Santana, Mickey Hart, Tito Puente, Steve Winwood, Israel “Cachao” López, Giovanni Hidalgo, Carlos Patato Valdez, Joe Henderson and others.

Her performing and arranging credits include Tito Puente (Goza Mi Timbal), Steve Winwood (Junction Seven), and Carlos Patato Valdez (Ritmo y Candela). In the 1990s she recorded and toured with Mickey Hart’s Planet Drum as its Musical Director; highlights include Woodstock ’99 the Conan O’Brien show and the Regis and Kathy Lee Show.

As a producer, Mauleon’s first solo release Round Trip garnered international critical acclaim. As the leader of her own ensemble, Rebeca has appeared at numerous renowned music festivals including the Kennedy Center’s “Women in Jazz” festival in 1999, the Monterey Jazz Festival and San Francisco and San Jose Jazz Festivals. In 2001 she was the recipient of the prestigious Meet The Composer New Residencies Award for a three-year residency at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

Rebeca is also much in-demand as a teacher and clinician throughout the U.S. and Europe specializing in Latin music performance and history, combining hands-on master classes with high-energy performances by her ensemble. She is the author of several texts on Latin music technique (all published through Sher Music). She has also published articles for top industry magazines including Keyboard, Modern Drummer, Mix en Español and Bass Player.

Rebeca is a tenured professor of Latin American Music at City College of San Francisco, a guest lecturer at U.C. Berkeley, and sits on the Board of Directors of the San Francisco Jazz Festival.


Round Trip (Bembe Records, 1999)
Latin Fire (Rumbeca Music, 2004)
Descarga en California (Universal, 2006)


Artist Profiles: Ralph Irizarry

Ralph Irizarry

New York City based master timbalero Ralph Irizarry and his 8 piece ensemble Son Cafe was created to celebrate the dance music of Cuban origin made popular by Celia Cruz Pacheco Barretto and others. Ralph Irrizary’s pedigree in this genre is without question. A virtuoso on the timbal drums he came to international prominence in the 1970s playing recording and touring with Ray Barretto’s Salsa Orchestra and followed by a 13-year stint with Ruben Blades and Seis Del Solar.

Ralph Irizarry was born in New York’s Spanish Harlem. His family later moved to Puerto Rico in 1970. He spent there three years working with famous Puerto Rican combos such as La Terrifica, El Gran Combo and Sonora Ponceña. In 1974 he returned to New York

These days while not playing in his own well-know Latin Jazz ensemble Timbalaye, Irizarry has created Son Cafe as an engaging and highly danceable band whose repertoire is mainly based on salsa pura and son cubano. Their exciting novel sound a blend of diverse influences brings to life echoes of such respected aggregations as the legendary Sonora Matancera from Cuba and Puerto Rico’s Sonora Ponceña all combined with the best of the typical New York swing. The group`s powerful delivery is a unique experience for the listener as well as the dancer.

Ralph’s international stature was cemented as a founding member of Ruben Blades’ Seis del Solar. After several world tours and albums with Ruben Blades Ralph was asked to tour and record with the legendary bassist composer and creator of the Mambo: Israel Cachao Lopez. Ralph was immortalized in the films “Cachao: Como Su Ritmo No Hay Dos” (produced by Andy Garcia) and the film “Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love”.

Fronted by Ralph’s electrifying timbales, the Son Cafe has featured the dual lead vocals of Jorge Maldonado and Dominican sensation Elsa Ozuna.


Timbalaye (1998)
Best Kept Secret, with Timbala (2000)
It’s Time, with Timbala (2004)
Tributo (2006)
Bailando Con Azucar, with SonCafe (2007)
Tributo, with SonCafe (2007)
Viejos Pero Sabrosos, with Los Viejos De La Salsa (2012)
20th Anniversary, with Timbala (2015)


Artist Profiles: Railroad Earth

Railroad Earth

In 2001 Railroad Earth formed out of live sessions at the Pocono Bluegrass Society open mics. A few weeks later they recorded their first demos and were invited to play Telluride, Grey Fox and High Sierra music festivals before they ever played a formal gig.

As the frontman for popular Jersey roots act From Good Homes, Todd Sheaffer covered a lot of ground in the years before Railroad Earth. It was a time when Sheaffer, mandolinist John Skehan and bluegrass musicians Carbone and Goessling were in between projects that the band members first came together. While they knew of each other from New Jersey’s roots music scene, they hadn’t played together before the fall of 2000. It was during a series of open-mic events sponsored by the Pocono Bluegrass Society that the initial four first began playing together.

Bandmates Tim Carbone (violin, accordion, guitar) and Andy Goessling (banjo, dobro, guitar etc.) literally traveled more than a million miles going from gig to gig in their previous band Blue Sparks From Hell.

Sheaffer had written some new songs and played them for Carbone, Goessling and Skehan who helped to adapt them into neo-bluegrass numbers. Within a couple of months the Railroad Earth line-up was rounded out by the addition of (drummer) Carey Harmon (a former member of The Hour and the Bobby Syvarth Band) and finally acoustic bassist Johnny Grubb.

The band is an amalgam of influences and experiences. Carbone and Goessling have bluegrass backgrounds while Sheaffer is a singer-songwriter schooled on such icons as Dylan, the Grateful Dead, the Rolling Stones and Neil Young. With roots in the piano, Skehan plays the mandolin. The group also brings together players of different ages and perspectives. ‘It’s sort of a multi-generational band so there are influences that come from different moments in time‘ says Sheaffer. ‘It’s those different energies coming together that have created our sound.’

The band’s debut The Black Bear Sessions arrived in 2001 (BOS Music) following strong internet exposure. That was a year that found Railroad Earth becoming a popular act with many roots music fans as its improvisational style and bluegrass influence recalled the Grateful Dead and New Grass Revival. It was their blazing instrumental work and instantly classic songs that really connected with fans.

Their Sugar Hill Records debut, Bird in a House followed in 2002, thrilling critics and fans alike. While initially the band had begun to build a reputation with soulful sets at the country’s biggest bluegrass festivals and small venues Bird in a House accurately reflected the band’s potential and varied influences going from bluegrass to folk to Celtic to rock. At the same time it found Railroad Earth emerging as a songwriting force.

When it came time to record The Good Life, the members of Railroad Earth felt it was time for something new. Since forming in 2001, the band had released two lauded albums that were largely documents of the Railroad Earth live experience. Both rootsy sets were full of songs that initially came to life onstage and were then crafted for the studio.The Good Life however is the product of a very different studio experience.

This was the first record where we had even less of an idea of what might happen before we went into the studio ‘ said Todd Sheaffer. ‘We weren’t drawing from any material that we’d ever played live. This record was all fresh material written arranged and recorded in the studio.’

The disc is still very much a Railroad Earth experience, lush with rich mandolins, acoustic guitars, violin, banjo, upright bass and many other musical surprises. Yet there are clearly some more poppy moments throughout.


The Black Bear Sessions (BOS Music 2001)

Bird in a House (Sugar Hill Records 2002)

The Good Life (Sugar Hill Records 2004)

Elko (SCI Fidelity 2006)

Amen Corner (SCI Fidelity 2008)

Railroad Earth (One Haven Music 2010)

Last of the Outlaws (Black Bear 2014)

Captain Nowhere [EP] (Black Bear, 2017)


Artist Profiles: R.L. Burnside

R.L. Burnside

R.L. Burnside was born in Harmontown (Lafayette County) near Oxford Mississippi in November 21, 1926. He moved around the Holly Springs and Independence area making a living doing farm work. By the 1950s he was singing blues and playing guitar which he learned from older local musicians such as “Mississippi” Fred McDowell and Ranie Burnette. Burnside played solo at juke joints and house parties performing versions of blues hits by Muddy Waters, Jimmy Rogers Elmore James and Howlin’ Wolf, themselves all Mississippi bluesmen. Then, during the 1950s, a restless Burnside spent several years outside of music seeking a better life in Chicago and Memphis.

Around 1959 he returned to Mississippi to again work the farms and raise a family with his wife Alice. He also got back to playing music at night and on weekends.

R.L. Burnside made his first recordings in 1967 with George Mitchell and several of these songs appeared on a compilation on Arhoolie. They were powerful country blues and earned Burnside enough of a reputation to play some festivals and short tours. Burnside’s electric guitar was broken at the time so he recorded on an acoustic. This caused him to be seen as an old-fashioned country blues artist when actually he had been updating and expanding the blues from the time he first began playing.

By the early 1970s, his wife Alice would sing with him on stage and most of their children also began singing or playing instruments. Soon R.L.’s sons, Joseph and Daniel along with brother-in-law Calvin Jackson formed the Sound Machine which became R.L.’s regular backing band. Burnside and his band would hold crowds of young dancers with their grooves including a growing number of local white kids.

Throughout the 1980s R.L. was a major figure in the Mississippi juke joint scene but he was barely known outside of the state. Things started to change for him in 1990, when respected journalist Robert Palmer along with Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics journeyed to Holly Springs to film ‘Deep Blues,’ the movie that brought attention to the vibrant but still largely undocumented contemporary blues scene in Mississippi. R.L. was a highlight of the film and his appearance led to his Robert Palmer produced debut on the then fledgling Fat Possum records, Too Bad Jim. Along with Junior Kimbrough’s All Night Long, Too Bad Jim was one of the most important and influential albums of the 1990s. He was playing electric raw north-Mississippi hill country-blues at its finest. No one had recorded music like this before and it quickly met with great acclaim.

The critical success of Too Bad Jim brought R.L. to the attention of post-punk icon Jon Spencer who started taking R.L. out on tour and turning him on to a whole new audience. By this time his band consisted of his grandson Cedric on drums and his “adopted son” Kenny Brown on guitar. They had no bass player but their sound was full and R.L.’s charisma won over young crowds that had never heard blues before. All of this led to the recording of A Ass Pocket of Whiskey, where he was backed by Jon Spencer and his band The Blues Explosion. That album sold well and made R.L. the unlikely hero of the indie-rock world.

A Ass Pocket of Whiskey was followed by Mr. Wizard which featured his touring band and then in 1998 he released Come On In which pitted his rawness against modern electronica courtesy of producer Tom Rothrock (Beck Elliot Smith). The album was a complete success both critically and commercially. One of its tracks (‘It’s Bad You Know’) was even a respectable radio hit and was featured in the gangster TV show and soundtrack for ‘The Sopranos.

Wish I Was in Heaven Sitting Down (2000) contains some of Burnside’s best singing ever. At 73 years old his voice had maturity and depth while his phrasing was detailed and emotional.

Despite his advancing age and health problems Burnside toured regularly with a trio that included his grandson Cedric on drums and Kenny Brown on guitar.

He died September 1st 2005 in his hospital room at the St. Francis Hospital in Memphis Tennessee. He was 78.


Sound Machine Groove (Vogue, 1981)
Plays and Sings the Mississippi Delta Blues (Swingmaster, 1981)
Mississippi Blues (Arion, 1984)
Hill Country Blues (Swingmaster, 1987)
Skinny Woman (Lollipop, 1989)
Bad Luck City (Fat Possum, 1994)
Too Bad Jim (Fat Possum, 1994)
A Ass Pocket of Whiskey (Fat Possum, 1996)
Mr. Wizard (Fat Possum, 1997)
Come On In (Fat Possum, 1998)
My Black Name a-Ringin’ (Genes, 1999)
Wish I Was in Heaven Sitting Down (Fat Possum, 2000)
Burnside on Burnside (Fat Possum, 2001)
A Bothered Mind (Fat Possum, 2004)


Artist Profiles: Poncho Sanchez

Poncho Sanchez

Poncho Sanchez was born in Laredo, Texas. He was the youngest of 11 children. Poncho grew up in Norwalk, California and remembers hearing Afro-Cuban music while growing up. “As a kid in third or fourth grade I would hear my sisters dancing while listening to Machito, Tito Puente, Cal Tjader and various bands from Cuba while my brothers listened to doo-wop music and early rhythm and blues.”

While in sixth grade, Sanchez bought a fifty- cent guitar in hopes of joining an r&b band that rehearsed across the street from his home. Although he practiced quite a bit when he showed up for an audition he knew immediately that he did not stand a chance. “But it turned out that they needed a singer and although I had never sung I gave it a try and became the lead vocalist in that band for five years. Then when I was in high school the first chance I had to get behind a set of conga drums I hit them and it felt quite natural.” Soon Sanchez had saved up money from his singing jobs and was practicing congas as much as possible in his garage playing to Machito, Tito Puente and Cal Tjader records.

Sanchez’s big break occurred in 1975 when after a period of struggle he had an opportunity to play with his idol vibraphonist Cal Tjader. “I found out later that Cal’s conga player was planning on leaving soon and he was letting a lot of people sit in with him. I played one number with Cal, he asked if I could play the rest of the set with him and a week later he asked if I could join him for a week, starting New Year’s Eve at the Coconut Grove opposite Carmen McRae!.” Sanchez would be a major part of Tjader’s band for the next seven years an association that lasted until the vibraphonist’s death.

Poncho Sanchez first formed his own group in 1980, leading his ensemble during Tjader’s vacation periods and recording two albums for Discovery. Shortly before his death, Tjader recommended to Concord founder Carl Jefferson that he sign Sanchez to his Concord Picante label (a subsidiary originally started to document Tjader’s music). Poncho recorded numerous albums for Concord and won a Grammy Award for 1999’s Latin Soul.

My band and I really do love Latin jazz. We played this music before it was popular and I think we’ve played a part in helping it to become popular again. Our main goal is always to keep Latin jazz alive growing and moving while being authentic to the music that we love. I’m proud to say that we have stuck to the basic fundamentals and the roots which are very important to us. And as I always say in clinics this music is not just for Latino people. It was born in the United States and it is American music. It is for everybody!


Salsa Picante (1980)
Straight Ahead (1980)
Machaca (1981)
Sonando (1982)
Baila Mi Gente (Concord Records, CCD-471-2 1982)
Bien Sabroso (1983)
El Conguero (1985)
Papa Gato (1986)
Gaviota (1986)
Fuerte (1987)
La Familia (1988)
Chile Con Soul (1989)
A Night At Kimball’s East (199)
Bailar (1990)
Cambios (1990)
El Mejor (1992)
Para Todos (Concord Records CCD-4600-2 1993)
Soul Sauce (Concord Records CCD-4662-2 1995)
Conga Blue (Concord Records CCD-4726-2 1995)
Freedom Sound (Concord Records CCD-4778-2 1997)
Afro-Cuban Fantasy (Concord Records CCD-4847-2 1998)
Latin Soul (Concord Records, CCD-4863-2 1999)
Poncho Sanchez – The Concord Jazz Heritage Series (2000)
Soul Of The Conga (Concord Records, CCD-4894, 2000)
Latin Spirits (2001)
Ultimate Latin Dance Party (2002)
Instant Party: Poncho Sanchez (2004)
Poncho at Montreux (2004)
Out of Sight! (2004)
Do It! (2005)
Raise Your Hand (2007)
Psychedelic Blues (Concord Picante 2009)
Chano y Dizzy! (Concord Picante, 2011)
Live in Hollywood (Concord Picante 2012)


Artist Profiles: Pinetop Perkins

Pinetop Perkins

Grammy Lifetime Achievement Recipient (2005) Pinetop Perkins was one of the last great Mississippi bluesmen still performing in the 21st century. He made a living playing blues since 1926 and was widely regarded as one of the best blues pianists. He created a style of playing that influenced three generations of piano players and will continue to be the yardstick by which great blues pianists are measured.

His signature sound, the right hand playing horn lines while the left kicked out bass notes and lots of bottom, provided the basic format and ideas from which countless winning bands derived their sound, whole horn sections playing out what Pinetop’s right hand was playing.

Although Pinetop never played swing it was his brand of boogie-woogie that came to structure swing and eventually rock and roll. Pinetop was best known for holding down the piano chair in the great Muddy Waters Band for twelve years during the highest point of Muddy’s career.

Pinetop Perkins celebrated his 95th birthday with his release Pinetop Perkins and Friends (Telarc June 2008). There were very few direct ties left to the golden age of post-World War II American blues, that seminal period in the 1940s and ‘50s, when the acoustic sounds of the Mississippi delta migrated northward and gave way to the more electric groove of northern locales like Chicago and St. Louis.

In 2008 Perkins received a Grammy for Best Traditional Blues Album for Last of the Great Mississippi Delta Bluesmen: Live In Dallas. Perkins continued to win the Blues Music Award for best blues-piano every year until 2003 when he was retired from that award which now bears his name: the Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year.

March 21, 2011, Perkins died at his home in Austin, Texas.


Boogie Woogie King, recorded 1976, released 1992 (1976)
Hard Again, Muddy Waters (1977)
After Hours (1988)
Pinetop Perkins with the Blue Ice Band (1992)
On Top (1992)
Portrait of a Delta Bluesman (1993)
Live Top, with the Blue Flames (1995)
Eye to Eye, with Ronnie Earl, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith and Calvin “Fuzz” Jones (1996)
Born in the Delta (1997)
Sweet Black Angel (1998)
Legends, with Hubert Sumlin (1998)
Down in Mississippi (1998)
Live at 85!, with George Kilby Jr (1999)
Back on Top (2000)
Heritage of the Blues (2003)
All Star Blues Jam, with Bob Margolin and others (2003)
8 Hands on 88 Keys (2003)
Ladies Man (2004)
10 Days Out (2007)
Pinetop Perkins & Friends (Telarc, 2008)
Joined at the Hip, with Willie “Big Eyes” Smith (Telarc, 2010)
Genuine Blues Legends, Pinetop Perkins and Jimmy Rogers with Little Mike and the Tornadoes (2015)


Artist Profiles: Phil Wiggins

Phil Wiggins

Phil Wiggins was born in Washington D.C. in 1954. He began his musical career with some of Washington’s leading blues artists, including Archie Edwards and John Jackson, and attributed his style to his years spent accompanying locally noted slide guitarist and gospel singer Flora Molton.

His harmonica sound developed from listening to piano and horn players, as well as the music of Sonny Terry, Sonny Boy Williamson, Little Walter Big Walter and Junior Wells. Phil also apprenticed with Mother Scott (a contemporary of Bessie Smith).

Phil first met John Cephas in 1976 at the Smithsonian National Folklife Festival in Washington D.C. Along with pianist Wilber “Big Chief” Ellis and bassist James Bellamy, John and Phil formed the Barrelhouse Rockers.

A year after Ellis’ death”, the duo of Cephas and Wiggins was born. Besides being a renowned harmonica player, Wiggins is also a gifted songwriter and singer whose material helped define the duo’s sound.

According to Wiggins, “People automatically think of sadness and depression when they think of blues. But the blues of course is uplifting music music to rejuvenate you to nourish the spirit. When you get down the blues will pick you up again.”

The duo ended after John Cephas died in 2009.


Living Country Blues USA Vol. 1 (L+R, 1981)
Sweet Bitter Blues (L+R, 1984 reissued by Evidence Records in 1994)
Let It Roll: Bowling Green (Marimac, 1985 )
Dog Days of August (Flying Fish, 1986)
Guitar Man (Flying Fish, 1987)
Walking Blues (Marimac, 1988)
Flip, Flop & Fly (Flying Fish, 1992)
Bluesmen (Chesky, 1993)
Cool Down (Alligator, 1996)
Homemade (Alligator, 1999)
Somebody Told the Truth (Alligator, 2002 )
Shoulder to Shoulder (Alligator, 2006)
Richmond Blues (Smithsonian Folkways, 2008)


Artist Profiles: Pete Escovedo

Pete Escovedo

Percussionist Pete Escovedo was born July 13, 1935 in Pittsburg California. As a young boy he would sit on the steps of nightclubs and watch musicians play. Music became his conduit. When he was 15 years old he began to sketch and paint on wood or cardboard. Anything he could get his hands on he would start to draw.

His first musical instrument in school was the saxophone. It didn’t take long to discover that this was definitely not the right instrument for him. He decided to try another instrument, bongos. The first bongos set was made out of coffee cans and tape and he painted it himself. He was determined to play.

His brothers Coke and Phil joined Pete and formed The Escovedo Brothers Latin Jazz Sextet. They played all over town carrying their own instruments on the bus to get to their next gig and earn their $5. The sextet played in famous places like the Matador Jazz Workshop The Tropics and Basin St. West. The three brothers stayed together. After their late night gigs they would get something to eat and talk about music traveling and being famous one day. Music was everything to them it was their life.

Pete and Coke went on tour with guitarist Carlos Santana. Pete toured with Santana for three years performing internationally and playing on the albums Moonflower Oneness and Inner Secrets. To have the amazing opportunity to play percussion with Santana was like a dream he would never forget but something in his soul was still struggling. Pete’s vision grew bigger and he needed to make a name for himself and for the music that kept playing in his mind. He finally decided that it was time to leave.

Pete Escovedo

In the 1970s Pete and Coke Escovedo founded the band Azteca and recorded two albums for Columbia the self-titled album Azteca and Pyramid Of The Moon. They made a name for themselves and accomplished their dream.

From the 1970s until now Pete has performed and toured with many admired artists such as Herbie Hancock Mongo Santamaria Bobby McFerrin Cal Tjader Woody Herman Stephen Stills Billy Cobham Anita Baker George Duke Boz Scaggs Andy Narell Al Jarreau Ray Obiedo Dionne Warwick Marlena Shaw Barry White Angela Bofill Arturo Sandoval Poncho Sanchez Chick Corea Dave Valentine Najee Gerald Albright Prince and Tito Puente.

Pete Escovedo and his Latin Jazz Orchestra play a mix of smooth jazz, Salsa, Latin jazz and contemporary music. He has recorded several acclaimed solo albums, two recordings with his daughter Sheila E. and the Latina Familia live album with Sheila and Puente.

Pete has continued to pain since the age of 15. Over the years he has created an impressive body of art work. All of his paintings and drawings consist of oils acrylics latex enamels pencil and crayons.

His album Live from Stern Grove Festival includes daughter Sheila E., Dave Koz, Ray Obiedo and Arturo Sandoval.


Azteca, with Azteca (Columbia, 1972)
Pyramid of The Moon, with Azteca (Columbia, 1973)
Solo Two (Fantasy Records, 1977)
Happy Together (Fantasy Records, 1978)
Island (EsGo/Fantasy, 1982)
Yesterday’s Memories: Tomorrow’s Dreams (Concord Crossover, 1985)
Mister E (Concord Crossover, 1987)
Flying South (Concord Picante, 1995)
E Street (Concord Jazz, 1997)
E Music (Concord Jazz, 2000)
Whatcha Gonna Do (Concord Jazz, 2001)
Live (Concord Jazz, 2003)
From the Ruins with Azteca (Inakustic Gmbh, 2008)
Live from Stern Grove Festival (Concord Picante/Stiletto Flats Inc, 2013)


Artist Profiles: Pequeño Johnny Rivero

Little Johnny Rivero was born in New York City to Puerto Rican parents. As a young boy he was drawn to the sounds and rhythms of the conga players from Jefferson Park and Randall’s Island Park. Little Johnny began practicing percussion at age ten and played in the school band. Soon after he took dance lessons and performed on stage with the best bands of the era at such famous venues as the Manhattan Center the Colgate Garden and the Copacabana.

At age fourteen Little Johnny joined Orchestra Colon the youngest Latin band inNew York City and recorded two albums with them. In 1973 he moved to Puerto Rico with his parents and joined La Sonora Ponceña in 1974. After playing bongos with them for a year and a half he switched to congas which rekindled the love affair he had begun with the instrument as a small child. Little Johnny attributes the rhythms and professional conduct he learned from Quique Lucca and his son Papo Lucca at this time as the qualities that have made him what he is today.

During the sixteen years Little Johnny played with the La Sonora Ponceña he traveled the world and made eighteen highly respected Latin albums with them. Little Johnny’s other credits include work with Bobby Valentin, Celia Cruz, Eddie Palmieri, Dave Valentin, Tito Puente, Lucecita Benitez and numerous other artists. He also performed with the RMM All-Stars Band directed by Sergio George, Bebo Valdes and David Murray.

He is currently the co-leader of Alfredo de la Fe Orquesta. He has recorded with such producers as Cuto Soto Ramon Sanchez Cuco Peña and many others. In May 1997 Little Johnny shared the stage with his inspiration and idol Jose Mangual. Little Johnny has traveled the world with the winner of eight Grammy awards Eddie Palmieri. In addition Johnny continues to perform with many of the biggest and most respected acts in Latin music.

Johnny’s first solo effort Pasos Gigantes was very well-received by critics and music fans alike. Johnny also wrote and produced every song on his CD showcasing his arranging and playing abilities.


Pasos Gigantes ‎(Rumba Jams RJ1021, 2006)