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Dance was formerly a mainstay of the public ritual of jazz performance, and remains an essential part of the variety of Latin American music. The Afro-Cuban legacy in jazz brings dance to the forefront, as declarative horns and clave-based rhythms kiss the American impulse to swing. Come ready to do your own thing . . . on the dance floor at the Dwyer Cultural Center in Harlem!
David Oquendo was born in Havana, Cuba in 1958. Self taught, Oquendo absorbed the essence of the Afro Cuban rhythmical vernacular in the poorest neighborhoods of his native city. At 12 years of age, David started playing guitar and singing in several “Rock” bands around Cuba. Even though he was not conservatory trained, his passion for music, his discipline and self-criticism, took him to the point where eventually he was considered one of the best guitar accompanist in Cuba. This was evident in his appearances at “El Rincon del Feeling”, “Cabaret Tropicana”, “Cabaret Internacional de Varadero”, “ Salon Rojo” at the Hotel Capri and many more venues.
As accompanist, David has worked with artist of the caliber of: Moraima Secada, Elena Burke, Lucho Gatica, Meme Solis, Maggie Carles, Lenny Andrade, and many others. As guitarist, singer, composer, arranger and bassist, David has performed in concerts and recordings in Cuba, Panama, Dominican Republic, Austria, Canada, Greece, Spain, Brasil, Bermuda and the US with names such: Paquito D’Rivera, Compay Segundo, Marc Anthony, Johnny Ventura, Ray Barreto, Arturo Sandoval, Giovanni Hidalgo “Manenguito”, Mauricio Smith, Andy Gonzalez, Manny Oquendo, Johnny Pacheco, Gilberto Santarrosa, El Gran Combo, Jose Luis Quintana “Changuito”, Willie Chirino, Regina Carter, Candido Camero, Patato Valdez, Gato Barbieri, Carlos Ponce, Sergio Vargas, Rudy Calzado, Basilio, Yomo Toro, Anthony Rios, Jose Fajardo, Israel Lopez “Cachao”, Graciela and Chico O’Farril to mention a few.
David has a Grammy Award for the album “Tropicana’s Nights” with Paquito D’Rivera, a Grammy Nomination for “Bebop Timba” with Raphael Cruz and three Latin Grammy Nominations for “Raices Habaneras”, “50 Years of Mambo” and “Paquito D’Rivera Presenta Las Hermanas Marquez”.
Founder and director of the Afro Cuban folklore group “Raices Habaneras”, which has been performing, without interruption, every Sunday since 1996 what has become known as “Domingos de la Rumba” (Rumba Sundays), David’s mission is to expose the public to a genuine representation of the “Rumba” genre. David, was musical director and producer for “The Cuban Rumba All Stars”, a first time, historical collaboration by members of Cuba’s Rumba groups: Los Munequitos de Matanzas, Yoruba Andabo, Clave y Guaguanco, Obba ILU, Coro Folklorico Cubano, Raices Profundas y Grupo Tata Guines.
As a member of Faculty of Harbor Conservatory for The Performing Arts, since 2002, he is teaching guitar, Cuban tres, bass, voice and the Afro-Cuban folklore workshop, the Latin Band workshop, the Guitar ensemble and the Vocal training Group Class.
David has appeared in: “El Show de Cristina” in Univision, the series “OZ” in HBO, “Harmony in the Kitchen” in the Food Network, “State of the Arts” and “The Cuban Americans” in PBS, The Ivan Acosta’s films “How to Create a Rumba” and “ Candido Hands of Fire”, The Heddy Honigmann’s film “Dame la Mano”, “Al Rojo Vivo” in Telemundo and “Orgullo Hispano” in Channel 47 Telemundo NYC, “Sabado al Mediodia” and “Al Despertar” in Channel 41 Univision NYC. As well as WBGO Jazz 88.3 FM, WBAI 99.5 FM and WADO 12.80 AM radio in NYC. He has also performed in prestigious stages such as: Madison Square Garden, Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Town Hall, Beacon Theatre, NJPAC Newark, Symphony Space, Cami Hall, Seattle International Children Festival, Jackie Gleason Theater, Olympia Theater at Gusman Center and Tropigala at The Fontainebleu in Miami Beach as a part of The 4th Annual Latin Grammy’s performance, The WOMAD Festival in Spain, Tenerife’s Carnival, Sao Pablo and Rio de Janeiro Jazz Festival in Brasil, The JVC Jazz Festival, Ravinia Jazz Festival, San Francisco Jazz Festival and The Montreal Jazz Festival.
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