Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez, the most recorded drummer of Cuba, has been the driving force behind the premier Latin and Latin-fused music of the past two decades. Since leaving Cuba in 1990 his drumming has propelled the efforts of Grammy Award winners Michel Camilo, Roy Hargrove, Chucho Valdes, Gary Burton, Alejandro Sanz and Carlos Santana, as well as Paquito D’Rivera and Gonzalo Rubalcaba. Hernandez is identified by his unique “Latin Fusion” style, melding the folkloric clave with the fierce punch, crisp snap. and deep grooves of today’s Jazz, Pop, and Rock.
Hernandez first gained international recognition as drummer for the legendary pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba and his band, Proyecto. Once in the U.S., Hernandez—known internationally simply as “El Negro”—began contributing to a host of the era's truly extraordinary performances, both live and in studio releases. Carlos Santana’s Supernatural (1999), a nine Grammy Award winner; Alejandro Sanz’ No Es Lo Mismo (2003), winner of four Grammy awards; Eddie Palmieri’s Listen Here! (2005); and Gary Burton’s For Hamp, Red, Bags, and Cal (2001) all bear the stamp of Horacio's percussion artistry. His own awards include a shared Grammy with Crisol, Roy Hargrove‘s band on Habana (1997), as well as a Grammy for the 2003 Live at the Blue Note, with Michel Camilo on piano and Charles Flores on bass.
Horacio's impact extends beyond stage and studio. In 2013 the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, celebrating its 12th Annual Jazz Appreciation Month, recognized Horacio's signature innovative approach to percussion, and included his unique drum kit in the museum's jazz collection, joining such artifacts as Herbie Hancock's cordless keyboard and Benny Goodman's clarinet. A highly esteemed educator, Horacio also serves as a member of the faculties of Berklee and the New School and Drummer’s Collective in New York. He holds an honorary Doctorate of Music degree from Boston's prestigious Berklee College of Music, joining the ranks of Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, William “Count” Basie, and Quincy Jones. Then, his critically-acclaimed book and CD, Conversations in Clave: The Ultimate Technical Study of Four-Way Independence in Afro-Cuban Rhythms (2000), has become an industry standard.
Since 2004, in addition to his many other projects, Horacio records and tours with Italuba—also the title of the group’s debut CD release, and Italuba’s second release Italuba II in 2007—his collaborative quartet. “We are at a point where we are letting the music play us, instead of us playing the music,” he says of the ease with which the players relate and blend in a sophisticated compositional and improvisational musical dialogue. In 2011 Horacio headlined at the Modern Drummer Festival for Modern Drummer Magazine with his new project band of World Music all-stars, The New World Order. The concert was subsequently released on the Modern Drummer Festival 2011 DVD. Horacio embarked on a new journey in 2012, contributing his percussion expertise during the making of renowned Italian recording artist Zucchero's newest project entitled "La Sesion Cubana". Horacio is currently performing on the Zucchero World Tour, playing too sold out venues worldwide in support of "La Sesion Cubana". What will emerge next from the innovative El Negro is certain to astonish, as it will continue to reveal his dedication to the Cuban music that first fueled his brilliant and unique contribution to the world of contemporary music.