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Manny Oquendo

Manny Oquendo - timbales, latin percussionist

Latin Bandleader Manny Oquendo, is a veteran of the days when Latin bands crowded into a studio to polish off a recording in an all-night session. Oquendo’s musical education consisted of the old-school, “just play” approach, and he was in the right place to learn. He grew up on Kelly Street in the Bronx, New York, not far from the great Cuban tres player, Arsenio Rodriguez and famed pianist Noro Morales. And a lot of kids who’d later make their names in Latin music-such as Joe Cuba, and the Palmieri brothers, One floor down from the Oquendo apartment was the Almacenes Hernandez record shop. “There was music constantly coming out of that store, and that was my education,” Oquendo recalls. He became an expert on Cuban rhythms and began playing bongo and timbales with a sucession of New York’s top bands-with Jose Curbelo and Vicentico Valdes before moving into the orchestras of Tito Puente and Tito Rodriguez.

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