Primary Instrument: Band/ensemble/orchestra
Viento de Agua is an original Latin dance/performance band with a groundbreaking new sound. The term itself refers to a Puerto Rican phrase used to describe the damp and humid air that precedes a heavy rainstorm.
The traditional Afro-Puerto Rican rhythms bomba y plena, are combined with various Afro-Caribbean rhythms and jazz to create a fresh contemporary style. The result of this fusion is an explosive sound that both seduces the most skilled dancer and stimulates the most sophisticated listener. Hector 'Tito' Matos, the director of Viento de Agua, explains the concept: “Our purpose is to disseminate our original and creative way of performing these ancestral rhythms not only to our Latino audience but to the rest of the world as well.”
This ensemble was conceived and created in New York City in the fall of 1997. Percussionist and singer Héctor 'Tito' Matos, a native of Santurce, Puerto Rico came up with the idea that master musicians Ricardo Pons and Alberto Toro helped materialize. They recruited some of the best musicians in New York to play the aggressive arrangements: drummer Bobby Sanabria, pianist Desmar Guevarra, bassist Waldo Chávez, and trombone player Joe Fiedler were part of the original band.
During the fall of 1998, Viento de Agua presented their first production under the Qbadisc Label, “De Puerto Rico al Mundo,” produced by Ned Sublette, a recording that received enthusiastic reviews by The New York Times, Latin Beat Magazine and other publications. The record made them winners of the Prestigious 2000 SUNSHINE Award for Best Caribbean Tropical Album, in New York City.
In 2001, Viento de Agua had their first solo concert at a sold-out Hostos Center for the Performing Arts. This led to them performing in numerous important venues, including: WolfTraps Jazz Festival, MassMoca Jazz Fest, Lincoln Center’s Outdoors, Lincoln Center’s MidSummer Nights, Celebrate Brooklyn, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, and Smithsonian’s Folkways Festival.
After returning to his native Puerto Rico in 2004, band leader Tito Matos restructured the band, incorporating some of the island’s up-and-coming musicians to the project. In the same year the band released “Viento de Agua Unplugged: Materia Prima,” for Smithsonian Folkways Recordings to much acclaim. On this recording they went for an exclusive all percussion setting using only the hand held plena drums (panderetas) and other traditional percussive instruments as the sole accompaniments for the vocalizations. The record included extensive liner notes outlining the origins of the bomba y plena rhythms.
Hector “Tito” Matos, the first plenero to be endorsed by Latin Percussion Instruments, has on his own accumulated quite an impressive resume recording with the likes of Los Pleneros de la 21, Eddie Palmieri,(El Rumbero del Piano) David Sánchez, (Obsesión, Melaza) Miguel Zenón, (Esta Plena, Ceremonial) and William Cepeda.( Afroboricua, AfroRican Jazz)
Matos played conga on Ricky Martin’s first television special for CBS and later recorded the hit song, “Pégate” for the Grammy winning production of “Ricky Martin MTV Unplugged.” He was also the invited percussionist at Gloria Estefan and Celine Dion’s Concert at Radio City Music Hall.
2009 proved to be a banner year for Viento de Agua as they were invited to reappear at the Smithsonian Folkways Festival in New York. They also self produced the record “Fruta Madura,” which reunites Matos with musical director Ricardo Pons his original flute and sax man.
Matos and Pons have augmented the band with the addition of Eliud Cintrón, trombone; Luis Aquino, trumpet; Roberto Calderón, baritone sax; Javier Curet, bass, guitar, violin, percussion; Sammy Tanco, vocals; Efrain Martinez, drums; Luis Amed Irizarry, piano; also Erik Noel Rosado, Juan “Llonsi” Martinez, Joksan Ramos, and Guillermo Cubero, are all on percussion.
The record offers twelve original songs with each one expanding the impression of what plena music should be. The record has taken hold in Puerto Rico and New York, and has added to the bands ever growing audience base.
Combining dynamic live performances with the release of “Fruta Madura,” Viento de Agua in 2010 is on an assured course to grand success.
Source: James Nadal