Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez - percussion
'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 into 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 listened to 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 neighborhood.
Already in his earliest youth Horacio showed a talent and preference for percussion. He began with the percussion instruments in the family, practiced 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.