Horacio 'El Negro' Hernandez

Article Bio Works Projects
genre(subgenre):
Music (Latin jazz, Latin-rock, salsa)
region:
America, Caribbean, America, North
country/territory:
Cuba, United States of America
created on:
May 16, 2003
last changed on:
Please note: This page has not been updated since January 25, 2012. We decided to keep it online because we think the information is still valuable.
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Article

From Havana via Rome to New York - and then round

Born in Havana, Cuba, in 1963, ´El Negro´ Hernandez was said to be the most talented and innovative percussionist in the world, even before being awarded a Grammy in 1997. Whether performing with jazz-legends like McCoy Tyner or Michel Camilo, rock-stars like Carlos Santana and Stevie Winwood or in notable Latin American ensembles like the Tropi-Jazz All Stars of the late Tito Puente, ´El Negro´ has also shown himself to be one of the most forceful and versatile musicians in the international music scene today.
Horacio Hernandez was born in 1963 in Havana, Cuba, in a very musical family: His grandfather played the trumpet in, for instance, the famous Septeto National, and brought the traditional Cuban influence into the family. His father compered jazz programs on Cuban radio, and his elder brother was fond of rock-music from the Beatles to Led Zeppelin. Horacio got his nickname ´El Negro´, The Black, even before birth as an affectionate reference to his brother´s best friend, who lived in the neighbourhood.

Already in his earliest youth Haracio showed a talent and preference for percussion. He began with the percussion instruments in the family, practised later on a lent drum-set and finally took lessons. These were at first with Fausto Garcia Rivera, who had been trained in America, then with Enrique Pla, the percussionist of the legendary Cuban group ´Irakere´, to which Arturo Sandoval and Paquito D’Rivera likewise belonged. Horacio Hernandez began studying at the National School of Arts in Havana, but even during his years of study he began to play with the saxophonist Nicolas Reynoso, to whose band belonged also the pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba.

A big chance of letting off musical steam and showing his versatility came, as Horacio Hernandez worked as resident percussionist for EGREM-Studios, one of the biggest groups of studios on Cuba. Here he drummed for many rehearsals, sometimes for as many as 20 hours a day, travelling between studios and snatching intervals of sleep on an old mattress rolled up in an adjacent room. At last he became the full-time drummer in the Rubalcabas group ´Proyecto´, with which he appeared for the first time abroad and made an international reputation for himself in music circles. For seven years he toured the world with this group and recorded seven albums, astonishing his hearers both with his unusual way of playing as also with his unusual set of drums. Horacio Hernandez is truly ambidextrous, being able to play the leading pattern with either hand or to play the basic rhythmic figure of Afro-Cuban music, the clave-beat, with his left foot on the high-hat or the cowbell with the foot-pedal, while his right foot supports the base line, and his hands quite independently play highly complex rhythms on the bongos and timbales, which he often includes, instead of the classical toms, in his drum-set.

In 1990 Horacio Hernandez felt it high time to let his talent be recognised beyond the borders of Cuba, so during a tour in Italy he applied for political asylum in the USA, whose officials, however, felt that they had enough musicians already and refused entry. His wranglel with the authorities lasted three years, during which time he taught percussion in Rome in the Timba Centro di Percussion. In 1993 he was then allowed to move to New York but not to move on from there, so he had to turn many offers of tours down. This had, though, the positive effect of intensifying his studio work and his presence on the New York podiums with musicians like Dave Valentin, Paquo Vazquez, Daniel Ponce, Ed Simon and Dizzy Gillespie’s United Nations Orchestra under the baton of Paquito D’Rivera.

After the restrictions on travel were lifted, Horacio ´El Negro´ Hernandez soon became one of the most wanted and well known young percussionists in the country. Especially worth mentioning is his work with Michel Camilo, as also on Kip Hanrahan´s Deep Rumba project. His big breakthrough outside the jazz-scene came as a percussionist in 1997 for the album Supernatural from Carlos Santana, which brought him his first Grammy Award. Besides giving concerts and performing in the studio, Horacio Hernandez finds time to issue teaching-books and videos about his special drum technique.

(Translation: Phil Stanway)
Author: Richard Berkowski 

Bio

Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez was born in 1963 in Havana, Cuba, and began with percussion very early. He played for the EGREM Studio and in the group Proyecto led by the pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba. After international tours with this group he decided in 1990 to emigrate and came, after three years as a teacher of percussion and a member of various groups in Rome, in 1993 to New York, where he has since been living He is one of the most wanted and innovative percussionists of our time and is remarkably versatile. In 1997 he was awarded his first Grammy as a percussionist on the Santana album Supernatural.

Works

Larry Baeder Group, Maximo Strut

Published Audio,
2003
2000 (drums, snare)

Michel Camil, Thru My Eyes

Published Audio,
2003
1996 (drums)

Paquito D´Rivera, 40 Years of Cuban Jam Session

Published Audio,
2003
1993 (drums, claves)

Santi Debriano, Circle Chant

Published Audio,
2003
1999 (drums)

Hilario Duran, Habana Nocturna

Published Audio,
2003
1999 (drums, bata)

Larry Baeder Group, Maximo Strut

Published Audio,
2003
2000 (drums, snare)

Joanne Brackeen, Pink Elephant Magic

Published Audio,
2003
1999 (drums)

Roy Hargrove, Habana

Published Audio,
2003
1997 (drums)

Victor Mendoza, This Is Why

Published Audio,
2003
1994 (drums)

Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Giraldilla

Published Audio,
2003
1990 (cymbals, drums)

Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Concatenacion

Published Audio,
2003
1995 (drums, bateria)

Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Gonzalo Rubalcaba

Published Audio,
2003
\Egrem, bateria

Steve Turre, In the Spur of the Moment

Published Audio,
2003
2000 (bongos, conga, drums, timbales, campana)

It´s About Love

Published Audio,
2001
Various Artists, 2001 (drums)

Arkadia Jazz, The Stars of Jazz...

Published Audio,
2001
Various Artists,2001 (drums)

New Young Lions of Jazz

Published Audio,
2001
Various Artists, 2001 (drums

BET on Jazz Presents, Jazz Now

Published Audio,
2001
Various Artists, 2001 (drums)

William Cepeda, Branching Out

Published Audio,
2001
2001 (drums)

William Cepeda, Branching Out

Published Audio,
2001
2001 (drums)

Los Hombres Calientes/Bill, New Congo Square

Published Audio,
2001
Vol. 3, 2001 (percussion, drums, vocals, background)

Uli Lenz, Rainmaker´s Dance

Published Audio,
2001
2001 (drums)

John Patitucci, Communion

Published Audio,
2001
2001 (drums)

Alfredo Triff, 21 Broken Melodies at Once

Published Audio,
2001
2001 (drums)

Original Soundtrack

Published Audio,
2001
Calle 54, 2001 (drums)

Jam Miami, A Celebration of Latin...

Published Audio,
2000
Various Artists, 2000 (percussion, drums)

Ruben Gonzalez, Sentimiento

Published Audio,
2000
2000 (liner notes)

John Patitucci, Imprint

Published Audio,
2000
2000 (percussion, drums, snare)

Ana Torroja, Pasajes De Un Sueno

Published Audio,
2000
2000 (guitar, percussion, conga)

Papo Vazquez, At The Point

Published Audio,
2000
Vol. 2, 2000 (drums)

Arkadia Jazz All-Stars, Thank You, Duke! Our Tribute To...

Published Audio,
1999
1999 (drums)

Joanne Brackeen, Pink Elephant Magic

Published Audio,
1999
1999 (drums)

Juan-Carlos Formell, Songs From a Little Blue House

Published Audio,
1999
1999 (drums)

Arkadia Jazz All-Stars, Thank You, Duke! Our Tribute To...

Published Audio,
1999
1999 (drums)

Santi Debriano, Circle Chant

Published Audio,
1999
1999 (drums)

Hilario Duran, Habana Nocturna

Published Audio,
1999
1999 (drums, bata)

Juan-Carlos Formell, Songs from a Little Blue House

Published Audio,
1999
1999 (drums)

Rebeca Mauleon, Round Trip

Published Audio,
1999
1999 (drums)

Arturo O´Farrill, Blood Lines

Published Audio,
1999
1999 (drums)

Chico O´Farrill, Heart of a Legend

Published Audio,
1999
1999 (drums)

Santana, Supernatural

Published Audio,
1999
1999 (drums)

Papo Vazquez: At the Point

Published Audio,
1999
Vol. 1, 1999 (drums)

Sir George Collection

Published Audio,
1998
Various Artists, 1998 (drums)

Afro-Cuban Grooves, Vol. 3

Published Audio,
1998
Various Artists, 1998 (drums)

Deep Rumba, This Night Becomes a Rumba

Published Audio,
1998
1998 (timbales, trap kit)

Deep Rumba, This Night Becomes a Rumba

Published Audio,
1998
1998 (timbales, trap kit)

Kip Hanrahan, Shadow Nights, Vol. 2

Published Audio,
1998
1998

Latin Jazz Highlights: Messidor´s..

Published Audio,
1997
Various Artists, 1997 (drums)

Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Messidor´s Finest

Published Audio,
1997
1997 (drums)

TropiJazz All-Stars, TropiJazz All-Stars, Vol. 2

Published Audio,
1997
1997 (drums)

United Nations of Messidor

Published Audio,
1996
Various Artists, 1996 (drums)

Jammin´ in the Bronx: A Live...

Published Audio,
1996
Various Artists, 1996 (drums)

Cuba Jazz

Published Audio,
1996
Various Artists, 1996 (drums)

Michel Camilo, Thru My Eyes

Published Audio,
1996
1996 (drums)

David Sanchez, Street Scenes

Published Audio,
1996
1996 (drums)

TropiJazz All-Stars, TropiJazz All-Stars

Published Audio,
1996
Vol. 1, 1996 (drums)

Various Artists, Latin Jazz

Published Audio,
1995
\Nascente, 1995 (drums)

Tito Puente, Jazzin´

Published Audio,
1995
1995 (drums)

Paquito D´Rivera and the..., Night in Englewood

Published Audio,
1993
1993 (conga, drums)

Paquito D´Rivera, 40 Years of Cuban Jam Session

Published Audio,
1993
1993 (drums, claves)

Paquito D´Rivera and the..., Night in Englewood

Published Audio,
1993
1993 (conga, drums)

Edward Simon, Beauty Within

Published Audio,
1993
1993 (drums)

Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Live in Havana

Published Audio,
1989
1989 (drums)

Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Mi Gran Pasion

Published Audio,
1987
1987 (drums)

Projects

This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.

The Back Room

(01 January 98 - 14 June 05)