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Daniel Ponce
rumbero, percusionista

A star percussionist and one of the finest to come from Cuba since the heyday of Chano Pozo, Candido Camero, and Armando Peraza, Daniel Ponce displayed rhythmic mastery of both traditional Cuban sounds and contemporary African-American rhythms. Ponce's grandfather was a famous bata drum player and gave his grandson his earliest training. Ponce played cowbell with Los Brillantes in Havana at 11. He switched to congas as a teen, and played with Comparso Federacion Estudiantil Universitario. He came to America in 1980, and soon moved to New York. Andy and Jerry González invited Ponce to sit in at the Village Gate, where he met saxophonist Paquito d'Rivera. He later played on a pair of d'Rivera albums, and did sessions for Eddie Palmieri. But producer/bassist Bill Laswell really aided Ponce. He landed him a session with Herbie Hancock that led to the critically and commercially successful release Future Shock in the mid-'80s. Ponce did several sessions for OAO and Celluloid, and issued his first session as a leader, New York Now!, in 1983. His next outing, Arawe, arrived in 1987, followed by Chango Te Llama in 1991. Ponce also led a pair of New York groups, New York Now and Jazzbata, in addition to considerable session work on dates led by others. ~ Ron Wynn & Michael G. Nastos, Rovi  --

DANIEL PONCE- HOMENAJE PARA UN RUMBERO - New York, Monday, June 17, 2013

Homenaje para Daniel Ponce  St. Peter's Church - 619 Park Avenue at 54th Street - 7 pm, doors 6:30pm

This musical tribute will feature Arturo O'Farrill and the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, David Oquendo y Raices Habaneras, Olu Femi, and Michele Rosewoman. Enrique Fernández will be the Keynote Speaker. Produced by Verna Gillis, Soundscape.

DANIEL PONCE (1952-2013). Born in Havana, Cuba, and died in Miami, Florida, where he lived for the past 20 years. In Havana, Daniel played annually during Carnaval, and he was a rumbero, an active participant in the local music scene. He landed in Miami, in September 1980 as part of the Mariel Boatlift. From Miami he made his way to New York City, where he was discovered among the rumberos who play in Central Park and brought to the attention of legendary bassist and Latin music connoisseur Andy Gonzalez.

Andy and his group, Manny Oquendo's CONJUNTO LIBRE, were in regular Tuesday night residence at SOUNDSCAPE, an alternative music space on 52nd Street, and they invited Daniel to play with them. SOUNDSCAPE was in its heyday, providing a venue for all kinds of music and an opportunity to hear artists and be heard by a wide range of audience. Verna Gillis, director of SOUNDSCAPE, became Daniel's producer/manager.

"Daniel was an elegant, charismatic player, who made the five congas he played sing. He was a natural and had an innate understanding of music and could insert himself into any form and make it sound better,"Gillis recalls.

NEW YORK NOW, Daniel's first recording, released on the Celluloid label is still considered a percussion classic. Featured on this recording is Paquito d'Rivera, who also made his way to SOUNDSCAPE and met Daniel there. Daniel was a player in Paquito's first Quartet which performed at SOUNDSCAPE.

Producer/musician Bill Laswell heard Daniel at SOUNDSCAPE and hired him as a side-man on recordings with Laurie Anderson, Herbie Hancock and Bootsy Collins.

With a grant from the NYSCA, SOUNDSCAPE produced his second album, ARAWE, which became an instant Latin Jazz classic for its unique integration of Cuban religious music, with singer Orlando "Puntilla"Rios, a frequent collaborator of Daniel's.

In June, 1982, Daniel performed solo in Carnegie Hall in a concert of LIONS OF JAZZ produced by Bruce Lundvall. He also performed solo at the Berlin Jazz Festival. Daniel was a master conguero - a virtuoso of the big Cuban hand-drums known as "congas" - and the clave, the complex polyrhythmic beat that is the backbone of so much Afro-Cuban roots genres like the rumba, was the rhythm around which his musical world revolved.

In 1995 Daniel worked with the outstanding Cuban tres player/rumbero David Oquendo, and his excellent group RAICES HABANERAS . "For all of us it was an unique pleasure and a privilege to share the stage with that kind of energy, musicality and soul, showing what a real musician can bring to people when he plays. That was Daniel." says Oquendo.

Daniel moved to Miami where he became a regular in the rich musical scene there, performing with Alfredo Triff's Trio from 2005 - 2010 and they put out an album entitled dadaSON (2009) and "...the album is a great testimony to Daniel's virtuosity," said Triff.

Daniel Ponce died in Miami from a heart attack on March 10, 2013. He is survived by his 3 children, Michel Ponce, who lives in Havana, and Daniel Miguel Ponce and his daughter Tanary Ponce who live in New York City.


Daniel Ponce remember 4/2/2013 La Hora Faniatica: "Como homenaje a su memoria retomamos un especial del programa Tanga [de Radio Gladys Palmera] con una entrevista a Ponce y donde se habló del Mariel, Paquito, salsa, rock, jazz y rumba afrocubana."

Otra triste noticia: falleció el tumbador Daniel Ponce 3/20/2013 El Salsero: "Cumplidos apenas los once ya tocaba la campana en el grupo Los Brillantes. Ponce llegó a los Estados Unidos en 1980 y pronto se ganó un lugar en el mundo del jazz, lo americano y lo latino."

DANIEL PONCE: The Tragic Passing Of A Cuban Master Drummer 3/19/2013 Ancient to Future: "In recent times Daniel had shunned the limelight of the US Latin music scene and, as a result, information surrounding his untimely passing at the age of 59 remains scarce. Sue, along with others who had worked with Daniel and respected him – like the legendary Verna Gillis – are working to open up lines of communication within the Latin music community and beyond to ensure his passing does not go unnoticed. Daniel Ponce deserves recognition for his startling and innovative contribution to a genre of music that millions of people love and draw both strength and pride from."

Yoruba Andabo presenta nuevo álbum rumbero 3/19/2013 Juventud Rebelde: "La rumba no ha muerto, vive y tiende a evolucionar. Tal concepto es manejado en demasía por Yoruba Andabo en su último fonograma, donde la compañía folclórica capitalina capta El espíritu de la rumba (Bis Music 2012). El disco reúne una decena de composiciones que ofrecen un viaje por diferentes tendencias del estilo, como el guaguancó, la columbia y el bambú; a la vez que bordean otras vertientes melódicas como la conga, la cual fusionan con ese matiz salido de los tambores del grupo."

Daniel Ponce viaja al fetecún de los dioses 3/16/2013 TumiamiBlog: "Entre su discografia se encuentra: New York Now!, Arawe, Chango Te Llama, Rumba Pa’Gozar (éste último, una recopilación de New York Now! y Arawe). Pero participó también en innumerables conciertos y proyectos discográficos con prestigiosos músicos, entre ellos Paquito D’Rivera, McCoy Tayner, Eddie Palmieri, Herbie Hancock, Mick Jagger, Ginger Baker, Celia Cruz, Mario Bauzá, Dizzie Guillespie, Tito Puente y Alfredo Triff."


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Rumba for Daniel Ponce 3/17/2013 YouTube: uploaded by Lisa Maya Knauer



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