Artists of Los Pleneros de la 21
|Juango Gutiérrez|Edgardo Miranda|Juan Manuel Usera|Tito Cepeda|Nellie Tanco|Sammy Tanco|Donald Knicks|Ricardo Pons|Jose Lantigua
Nellie Tanco: Vocalist, Pandereta Seguidor
|Nellie was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico
and was raised in a family where the tradition of bomba and plena
was always present. Noticing her natural inclination toward music
since she was very young, her father, Mr. Domingo Tanco, taught
her to play the pandereta, the traditional plena drum. She also
learned from her older brothers and from the great plenero Emilio
Escobar, a close friend of her father. Possessed with a crystal-clear
and beautiful voice, she was always encouraged to play and sing
at the community gatherings where the music was played. In 1970,
Nellie moved to New York City with her family, where she along
with her brother Sammy, helped organize the bomba and plena group,
Conjunto Loiza. From 1978 to 1981, Nellie toured as a singer
and actress with the Joseph Papp's production, 'Olu Clemente,
Here We Come, and Piñones", by the renown Puerto
Rican poet and playwright, Tato Laviera. She was also featured
as a plena singer with the great Puerto Rican musicians, Rafael
Cortijo and Victor Montañez. Nellie has played a leading
role in Los Pleneros de la 21 since she joined the group in 1987.
She is an outstanding performer and her powerful alto voice easily
cuts through the often incendiary and complex drumming of Los
Edgardo Miranda: Master Cuatro Player & Arranger
|Born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, in 1952,
Edgardo is a self-taught Cuatro player. He learned to play the
instrument by listening and watching members of his family play
the cuatro at family gatherings. When he reached 12, he had already
embraced the guitar and spent countless hours listening to records
of guitar great West Montgomery. Edgardo grew up to be one of
the best young guitar players the music scene in Puerto Rico.
While pursuing a degree in performance and composition at the
University and The Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico, Edgardo
collaborated with two of the most important musical personalities
of Puerto Rico, Rafael Cortijo and Juan Torres, in addition to
playing in dance and show bands. In 1977, Edgardo moved to New
York City and immediately started working with Puerto Rican musicians
Pepe Castillo and Jerry Gonzalez, with whom he arranged and recorded.
In 1982, Edgardo joined the Tito Puente Jazz Ensemble, where
he was featured as composer, arranger, and Cuatro and Guitar
soloist in the group's Grammy Award winning recording, "On
Broadway", and in tours in the United States and Europe.
In 1983, he associated with Juan Gutiérrez to form Los
Pleneros de la 21, where he has been one of the major contributors
to the group's musical development and success over its eight
years of existence. Edgardo has also recorded and performed with
Paul Simon's Caribbeña Project, The Children's Television
Workshop, Bob Telson's off Broadway and touring plays, 'The Warrior
Ant', and 'Images', Puerto Rican Traveling Theater. He has also
served as production consultant and conducted music workshops
and seminars. He was a 1981 'Meet the Composer' grant recipient,
and has written compositions for Cuatro and Small Symphonic Orchestra,
as well as compositions for Piano and Jazz Ensemble.
Alberto "Tito" Cepeda: Bomba Primo/Subidor,
|Born in East Harlem, New York in 1956.
Tito's family exposed him to the traditional music of Santeria.
Later, in the Lexington Avenue Express Music Workshop, he learned
bomba and plena from the master plenero Marcial Reyes. He played
and recorded with Pepe Castillo y su Estampa Criolla and is a
founding member of Los Pleneros de la 21. His distinctive drum
and his ability to motivate the dancers, makes Tito the commanding
force in the bomba drum ensemble of Los Pleneros de la 21. Tito
has featured with Eddie Palmieri, Tito Puente, Victor Montañez,
La Familia Cepeda, Grupo Afro Cuba de Matanzas, Orlando Ríos
"Puntilla", Carlos "Patato" Valdez y Totico.
Gutierrez: Founder & Director
A 1996 recipient of National
Endowment for the Arts' National Heritage Fellowship Award, Juan
studied at the University of Puerto Rico and the Conservatory
of Music in San Juan before moving to New York City in 1976.
He continued his music education at the Manhattan School of Music
where he received a diploma in percussion with a minor in piano
and later, a Masters in Music Education from Lehman College.
Juan vast musical experience include radio, and television shows,
recordings, and performances with artists and musical institutions
like Louis Garcia, Bobby Valentín, Angel 'Cuco' Peña,
Ricardo Ray, David Sánchez, Eddie Palmieri, Paul Simon,
Jennifer Holiday, Patty Labelle, Danny Rivera, Lucesita Benítez,
Antonio Cabán Vale, 'El Topo'; Cheo Feliciano, Ismael
Miranda, Vitín Aviles, Santitos Colón, Miguel Barcasnegras,
'Meñique', Los Hispanos, Carmencita Jiménez, Myrta
Silva, Ruth Fernández, William Cepeda, Pepe Castillo,
Angel Luis Torruellas, Víctor Montañez, Orquesta
Sinfónica de Puerto Rico, Orquesta Filarmónica
de Puerto Rico, and Opera de Puerto Rico, among many others.
After establishing himself as a successful Broadway percussionist
and percussion arranger, he began studying with renowned plenero
(plena practitioner) Marcial Reyes Arvelo. This elder master
sparked Mr. Gutiérrez' interest in the Afro/Puerto Rican
tradition of bomba and plena. Together, they gathered the best
traditional pleneros in New York City at the time, and in 1983
formed the group "Los Pleneros de la 21," with Mr.
Gutiérrez as leader.
As leader and composer for "Los
Pleneros" (named for the Santurce, P.R. neighborhood famous
for its pleneros), Juan has performed his compositions at major
music festivals and music events throughout the country including:
The Smithsonian Institution's Martin Luther King's Birthday Celebration,
the Festival of American Folklife, the Hudson River Revival Festival,
the National Festival, the Masters Series at Carnegie Hall, the
Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, as well as the First International
Folk Festival in Moscow.
Juan has also performed his original compositions at major museums,
colleges, and theater centers throughout the nation including:
the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Boston Fine Arts Museum,
the American Museum of Natural History, Columbia University,
Princeton University, New York University, the Guadalupe Center
in San Antonio, Texas and the Kimo Theater in Albuquerque, New
Original plena compositions include: "Don Pedro," about
Pedro Albizu Campos, famous Puerto Rican nationalist; "No
Más Guerra" (No More War), about the Persian Gulf
War; "El Festival," about the groups experiences in
Moscow at the First International Festival; "Los Pleneros
de la 21," at one time the group's theme; "Para Gayito,"
in honor of the late Pablo Ortiz; and "Paco," in honor
of the late Francisco Rivera, and Somos Boricuas, a plena of
Puerto Rican reaffirmation.
Juan has also been a music teacher for a number of years and
has been Artist-in-Residence at I.S. 70 in District 2, and P.S.
46 in District 26. He has been a public schools music teacher
as well as a special programs teacher and performer with programs
such as: Lincoln Center's Meet the Artist; Carnegie Hall's Discovery
Series; Young Audience's Musical Arts Experience; The Little
Orchestra Society's Workshops; and Arts Connection's Arts Exposure
Jose Lantigua: Pianist, Arranger & Composer
|Born in the Dominican Republic. Has studied
music since age fifteen. Mr. Lantigua has worked as pianist of
internationally know figures such as Jose Luis Rodriguez, Basilio,
Lolita de España, among others and with renonow orquestras
like, Roberto Rohena and his Apollo Sound, Willie Rosario, Santiago
Ceron, among others. As an arranger, Mr. Lantigua has contributed
with diverse works for different orquestras in the salsa, and
merengue scene. As a pianist Jose Lantigua has the ability of
performing with a very wide spectrum of Latin styles, from merengue
to salsa, including folklore such as Bomba & Plena and Latin
Jazz emsembles. Presently enrolled in Nyack College where is
pursuing Theological Studies and a Psychology mayor. Mr. Lantigua,
a born-again christian has a very deep commitment ot his faith
and the preservation and respect of Christian values...
Manuel Usera: Bomba Dancer
|Raised in Villa Palmeras, Puerto Rico,
Usera has been dancing and playing bomba and plena since he was
a kid. During his early childhood he studied music and dance
at the Cepeda Family School in Puerto Rico. Later he formed part
of the Puerto Rico based group Paracumbé, the Cepeda Family
and the Folkloric Ballet of Caguas under the direction of dancer
and choreographer Awilda Sterling. Usera has a Bachelors Degree
in History and Theater from the University of Puerto Rico. He
was trained in modern and experimental dance by dancer Viveca
Vázquez and Petra Bravo. Among his performance and theater
professors are Rosa Luisa Márquez, Augusto Boal and Richard
Schechner. In 1997 he finished his Masters Degree in Performance
Studies in New York University. While attending Graduate School
he was part of the Latin American Ensemble of NYU. In New York
he has performed with several companies including Dos Alas with
Afrocuba de Matanzas and los Hermanos Cepeda, William Cepeda's
Afrorican Jazz, Boys Harbor ensemble in tribute to Tito Puente
and of course Los Pleneros de la 21. He is currently studying
music and applying his experience as both a scholar and a dancer
to the development of a video documentary Sabor a Rumba while
he continues to teach at the Children's Workshop organized by
Los Pleneros de la 21.
Sammy Tanco: Singer, Guiro, Maraca & Pandereta
|Born and raised in Santurce, Puerto Rico.
Mr. Tanco's first musical influence came from his father Domingo
Tanco, who was a "plenero" (plena player). In 1967
Mr. Tanco organized his first bomba & plena group in New
York City. Mr. Tanco participated in many festivals and concerts
such as the Expressiones Festival, John Jay College First Folk
Festival and "Fiestas de Loiza". He also has had the
privilege of performing with the immortals Rafael Cortijo, Ismael
Rivera and Mon Rivera. Mr. Tanco was also one of the founding
members, developers of the "Taller de Artesanias" in
El Museo del Barrio and El Taller Boricua in New York City. He
has also been a member of los Pleneros de la 21 since 1983.
Pons: Pregones' Musical Director
|This young Puerto Rican composer is an
experienced Flutist, Saxophonist, Clarinetist and Percussionist.
In 1993 he was awarded an Edward & Sally Van Lier Fellowship.
Ricardo graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Fine Arts from the
City College of new York and a masters degree in Jazz Performance
and Composition from the Aaron Copland School of Music in Queens
College. He studied under saxophonist and composer Jimmy Heath
and under pianist and composer Sir Roland Hanna. In 1989 Ricardo
joins pregones and has since participated in all company productions
as a musician and composer. Currently he also works as a professional
musician with several orchestras in New York, including: Los
Pleneros de la 21, José José, Brenda K. Star, Sarabanda,
Hector Lavoe orchestra, Ray Santos Caribbean Experience. More
recently, Ricardo has been collaborating with master dumber Rafi
Irizarry and Timbalaye. Together with several young musicians
in New York, Mr. Pons is currently creating the music ensemble
Latin Jazz Fusion. With this ensemble, Ricardo continues to experiment
with folklore rhythms like bomba and plena, mixing with jazz
harmonies and salsa elements. One of the goals both with Pregones
and with Latin Jazz Fusion is to join Jazz and Classical music
knowledge with folklore to create music and drama works for mixed
ensembles involving the traditional, folklore and electronic
Donald Knicks: Bassist
Born and raised in New
York city, has performed and recorded in many musical styles,
from jazz, blues, and funk to Bomba and plena from Puerto Rico.
He studied with jazz bassist Lyle Atkinson and Buster Williams.
While majoring in music at Queens College (CUNY) he also studied
jazz theory and harnony at the Jazzmobile Workshop in Harlem
and latin music at the East Harlem Music School.
He has recorded and touerd
with such luminaries as Charles Earland Roy Ayers, Los pleneros
de la 21, Noel Pointer, Bobby Humphry Ray hantilla, Bobby Sanabria,
Lonnie Liston Smith, and Johnny Colon.
|Juango Gutiérrez|Edgardo Miranda|Juan Manuel Usera|Tito Cepeda|Nellie Tanco|Sammy Tanco|Donald Knicks|Ricardo Pons|Jose Lantigua|