Primary Instrument: Percussion
Bronx born Bobby Matos began playing music beating on pots and pans in Grandma’s apartment and went on to backstage informal lessons with conga drum masters Patato Valdez and Mongo Santamaria; and then on to composition and arranging studies at Manhattan School of Music. His first gigs were in the early ‘60’s bohemian Greenwich Village Cafes, but he soon found himself playing in every type of venue; from Bronx dance halls to Carnegie Hall, to elegant supper clubs, Central Park Concerts, Off Broadway theaters, and after hours clubs in El Barrio
After touring and recording with artists like Ben Vereen, Bette Midler, Fred Neil, Jim Croce, Ray Rivera, Joe Loco, Miriam Makeeba, and many others, Bobby relocated to Los Angeles where he began experimenting with an Afro Cuban Jazz band where he could blend (and bend) musical elements from Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Wayne Shorter, Eddie Palmieri, and the rich legacy of Afro Cuban music.
In the ‘80’s and ‘90’s, Matos recorded several albums, most notably 5 well received CDs for Ubiquity Records’ spin off Cubop label, and began touring internationally. During this time, he received 2 performance grants from the City of Los Angeles, and also received The California Arts Council multi Cultural Entry level grant for 9 years. He also began touring schools under the banners of Music Center on Tour, Performing Tree, Great Leap, and Grammys in the Schools, where he conducted educational performances, master classes, and workshops. In 1999 he won an award from the L.A. Weekly Music Awards and in 2004 an award from Latin Beat magazine. During these years he also composed and performed music for dancer/choreographers Donna Sternbeg, Denise Cook, and Noboko Myamoto. He also produced recordings for Ray Armando, Dave Pike, Pucho and the Latin Soul Brothers, Jack Costanzo, Jerry Gonzalez, and John Santos. he has also received an Artist in Residence Grant to run a series of classes and workshops, and conduct a Latin jazz Youth Band in L.A
Also in 2004, Matos released the critically acclaimed Made By Hand, a live recording on the well known artists’ collective label Life Forcejazz Records. “Acknowledgment” Bobby’s next release on Life Forcejazz Records contained nine original compositions and three Afro Latin arrangements of John Coltrane compositions, along with an updated band that features power players like Theo Saunders - piano; John B. Williams or Edwin Livingston on bass; Robertito Melendez - congas; Frank Fontaine - flute and tenor sax; Dan Weinstein - trombone and violin; and Bobby's son Jud on percussion
In the summer of 2008 Ubiquity records released a Best Of Bobby Matos,” a showcase of his years with the label. The newest Matos CD release (2009) for LifeForcejazz, “Unity,” focuses mostly on originals that have come from the members of the band. They continue to tour the international festival and cabaret circuit.