David Oquendo | Afro-Cuban Chorus

Artist’s Bio:

David 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, musical director, arranger and bassist, David has performed in concerts and recordings in Cuba, Panama, Dominican Republic, Austria, Canada, Greece, Spain, Brasil, Bermuda, Mexico, Bahamas, Israel, Ethiopia, Holland and the US with names such: Paquito D’Rivera, Compay Segundo (Buena Vista Social Club Vocalist), Marc Anthony, Johnny Ventura, Ray Barreto, Arturo Sandoval, Giovanni Hidalgo “Mañenguito”, Mauricio Smith, Janis Siegel (Manhattan Transfer Vocalist), Lauren Kinhan (New York Voices Vocalist), Andy Gonzalez, Manny Oquendo and Conjunto Libre, Raul Esparza (Broadway’s Star), Johnny Pacheco, Gilberto Santarrosa, El Gran Combo, Jose Luis Quintana “Changuito”, Willie Chirino, Regina Carter, Cyre, Candido Camero, Patato Valdez, Gato Barbieri, Carlos Ponce, Sergio Vargas, Rudy Calzado, Basilio, Yomo Toro, Roswell Rudd, Anthony Rios, Jose Fajardo, Israel Lopez “Cachao”, Graciela (Machito’s Orchestra Vocalist), Maestro Chico O’Farrill, The Conga Kings Conducted by Maestro Ray Santos, Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra ALJO Conducted by Maestro Arturo O’Farrill to mention a few. 

David has a Grammy Award for the album “Tropicana’s Nights” with Paquito D’Rivera, three Grammy Nominations for “Heart of a Legend” with Chico O’Farrill, “Bebop Timba” with Raphael Cruz and “Entre Colegas” with Andy Gonzalez, also three Latin Grammy Nominations for his own production “Raices Habaneras”, “50 Years of Mambo” of Latin Jazz USA and “Paquito D’Rivera Presenta Las Hermanas Marquez” with Paquito D’ Rivera. 

Founder and director of the Afro Cuban folklore group “Raices Habaneras”, which was been performing, without interruption, every Sunday since 1996 for nine years what had 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 Muñequitos de Matanzas, Yoruba Andabo, Clave y Guaguanco, Obba ILU, Coro Folklorico Cubano, Raices Profundas y Grupo Tata Guines. 

Mr Oquendo has a vast experience as music teacher. He began teaching privately in 1975 in Cuba. In 1982 he taught at Casa de la Cultura del Cerro (Havana) and at Escuela Vocacional de Arte “Paulita Concepcion”, from were he also served as Sub-Director (1985-89). As a member of Faculty of Harbor Conservatory for The Performing Arts in New York City, from 2002 to 2011, he was 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: the series “OZ” and “Boardwalk Empire” 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”, The Leon Ichazo’s film “El Cantante” with Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez, “El Show de Cristina” in Univision, “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 WDNA 88.9 FM Miami, 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, Allen Room and Jazz at Lincoln Center, Town Hall, Apollo Theater in Harlem, Beacon Theatre, New York City Center Theater, NJPAC Newark, Symphony Space, Cami Hall, Mahalia Jackson Theater in New Orleans, Seattle International Children Festival, Jackie Gleason Theater, Olympia Theater at Gusman Center and Tropigala at The Fontainebleau 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 Brazil, The Mexico Jazz Festival, The JVC Jazz Festival, Ravinia Jazz Festival in Chicago, San Francisco Jazz Festival, The Montreal Jazz Festival, The Ottawa Jazz Festival in Canada, The African Festival in Chicago, Alice Tully Hall at the Lincoln Center with The Manhattan Symphony Orchestra Conducted by Maestro Gregory Singer as part of NAMEI International Festival and perform for The Queen Maxima of the Netherlands at Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ in Amsterdam, Holland. 

David Oquendo at City Lore:

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What students and teachers say about David: