Benny Velarde

The Bay Area’s Latin jazz scene is synonymous with Benny Velarde and Timbalero. Velarde was born in San Francisco, where a synthesis of modern jazz with Cuban percussion was being developed. He played an important role in the birth of this new sound. Velarde was born in Panama City and fell in love with Cuban music when he was a kid. After his family moved to San Francisco in 1945 Velarde discovered Tito Puente. He concentrated on learning bongos, congas and timbales. Alonzo Palio, a Salvadoran pianist, first recruited Benny. He quickly established himself with Cal Tjader during a lengthy stint between 1952 and 1957. Later, he worked with Joe Henderson, ErrolGarner, Stan Getz and Luis Gasca. He also collaborated with Lalo Schifrin (Lalo Schifrin), Walter Wanderley, and Mongo Santamaria. Velarde, now aged 81, is an ambassador for Latin jazz and a leader in his own bands from 1960. John Santos will also be in the group as percussionist/musical coordinator. Velarde will receive the SFJAZZ Award for lifetime achievement on this date. from

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