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Wilson "Chembo" Corniel

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Percussionist Wilson “Chembo” Corniel, Jr. was born in Manhattan on November 22, 1953. The child of Puerto Rican parents, Corniel grew up on the streets of Red Hook, Brooklyn. He showed an early interest in percussion instruments, and was playing congas, bongo, and bata by the age of 12, and he studied with percussionists Tommy Lopez, Sr., “Little Ray” Romero, Louie Bauza, and Cachete Maldonado. Corniel later perfected his playing skills at the Harbor Conservatory for the Performing Arts in New York and at the La Escuela Nacional de Arte in Havana, Cuba, in 1997 and 1999. He developed into a hard-hitting, versatile, and highly sought-after professional percussionist, working with artists like Chucho Valdés, Larry Harlow, Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, Machito, Grady Tate, Hilton Ruiz, Dave Valentin, Willie Colón, Angela Bofill, Steve Wilson, Ray Vega, Buddy Montgomery, Bob Baldwin, Chico Freeman, and many others, as well as leading his own Latin jazz quintet, Grupo Chaworo, and running his own record company, Chemboró Records, which he started in 2004. Corniel has also done some television work, appearing on The Bill Cosby Show and providing music for Nickelodeon’s Dora the Explorer. He has recorded extensively with numerous artists, and has released several albums under his own name, including 2009’s Things I Wanted to Do. ~ Steve Leggett

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Years Active:

'90s, '00s