This is a long time coming and well worth the effort. Here I aim to share with you my experiences providing Afro-Caribbean, Latin Jazz, and Salsa music to the San Diego and Southern California communities for many years. There is so much to tell. And to hear ...
Aya viene el temporal,
Que sera de Puerto Rico
cuando llegue el temporal?"
A native son of Santurce, a town in San Juan, Puerto Rico also known as "Cangrejo" or "crab," Gene is an Afro-Latin Percussionist Extraordinaire. During his upbringing Gene was surrounded by African rhythms fused with the rhythms of the Caribbean and Latin cultures. Arriving in the mainland with his father they lived first in Philadelphia then moved to San Diego, California in 1968. His father, a pianist, provided support and encouragement for his musical interests.
Bomba y Plena are traditional Afro-Caribbean music forms from Puerto Rico that influenced Gene greatly in his youth. His passion for the music and traditions of his homeland shine through when he talks about them.
PLENA is "el periodico del pueblo" or the "newspaper of the town" as he breaks it into the song of a pending hurricane, the plena verse (on the left)
Settling in the San Diego area Gene began building on his musical vision and was successful at bringing together Afro-Caribbean and Latin musicians. In 1969 he established a dynamic Sunday jam session at the Pepper Grove Park by the Centro Cultural de la Raza in San Diego's Balboa Park that thrived until 1974. From this group Gene produced the band "Drums on Fire," a premier Afro-Caribbean percussion band in San Diego.
Mentors and master congueros, Mongo Santamaria, Ray Barretto, and Patato Valdez, were all solid influences. Perry studied with Mongo Santamaria, a prolific teacher, in 1970. Playing at gatherings, injecting Afro rhythms into the community, Perry's performances have drawn record crowds in the Los Angeles and San Diego areas. Gene also interjected his developing passion for style. He takes great pride and attention to detail with his performance and personal wardrobe as he does with his music.
Teaching keeps the music alive. In his teachings he shares the history and traditions of the music, instruments and culture of Afro-Caribbean percussion. It is his self-proclaimed responsibility to teach these traditions to others so that they will continue the Afro-rhythmic experience and strengthen the link between traditional and contemporary music. Gene Perry was introduced professionally by Johnny Osund and "the Royal Breed" as "Cangrejo" nicknamed after his home town.
An accomplished percussionist he has joined the stage with such legends as Tito Puente "El Rey del Timbal", Poncho Sanchez, pianist Eddie Cano, as well as an extensive list of renowned performers from southern California and internationally known artists. In 1983 Gene formed the popular Latin jazz and salsa band "Afro Rumba." They performed at Croce's, a San Diego jazz venue, from 1989 until 1994.