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Tito Puente Tribute

Jimmy Delgado

Jimmy Delgado's professional career began in 1974, including work with Orchestra Cimarron, Tipica Novel, Pupi Legarreta, Chino y su Conjunto Melao, Ismael Quintana, and Ray Barretto's Big Band with which he performed for 9 months in 1976. In 1983, Jimmy rejoined Barretto's band, a stint that lasted for 5 1/2 years.

In 1977, Jimmy played bongos for Willie Colon. The following year he became Willie's timbale player, while he would also sub for Nicky Marrero in the group Tipica 73.

I first saw Jimmy play in 1976, on the East Side of New York City at a club called La Maganette. He was performing with a charanga band named Tipica Novel, the same evening that the Latin NY Music Awards were held at the Beacon Theater. It was a heady time for Latin music, with numerous clubs showcasing Latin music all around New York City. It was also a time during which my recording efforts were headed into "high gear", as I was in the process of producing the album My Own Image, Luis "Perico" Ortiz' first recording (which, by the way, is soon to be released on CD by LP). This proved to be my most ambitious production, and, though Perico could have asked for any timbalero to play on this recording, he insisted on having Jimmy.

I remember being so impressed with Jimmy's playing, particularly by the fact that his performance was not once the cause of our having to stop for a retake. Though I would have thought it would rather intimidating for a young player like Jimmy to be working along side of Patato, it didn't seem to faze him.

Jimmy's early influences were Nicky Marrero, Andy and Jerry Gonzalez and Little Ray Romero. Jimmy found working with the former singer with the Eddie Palmieri band, Ismael Quintana, was especially rewarding as Ismael coached Jimmy a great deal in interpreting songs and gave him greater confidence in playing timbales.

Jimmy has traveled all over the world, having been to Japan twice with Eddie Palmieri. Yet, the one place that Jimmy says he has never been and would love to go to is Italy.

While he is best known for his timbale playing, he is well versed in all elements of Latin percussion. When performing on bongo and conga, Jimmy has an exceptionally crisp and loud slap. During Tito Puente's March 1999 engagement at New York City's Blue Note jazz club, Delgado had the opportunity to sub on bongos for Johnny Rodriguez, Jr.

In Jimmy's own words, his gig with Harry Belafonte is his best. He gets to play, for the first time, all of the percussion instruments he has mastered. Also, because he doesn't have to carry or set up his gear as there is a professional roadie to handle this work, he finds the Belafonte gig very rewarding.

Jimmy stepped out as a bandleader for the first time September 25, 1995, with a group called Master Timbaleros. Because of the group's success in performing in New York, the concept was taken to Puerto Rico in February of the following year for another successful performance. The intent was to showcase the timbale, and he assembled some of the finest players of this instrument to perform in New York City and in Puerto Rico. The group consisted of Endel Dueño, Orestes Vilato, Nicky Marrero, and, of course Jimmy. On August 7, 1999, Jimmy will perform with this group in Puerto Rico, with Mike Collazo replacing Nicky Marrero.

Jimmy uses 14" and 15" brass LP® Tito Puente timbales. He uses a mambo bell and a low and high pitched cha cha bell. In addition he uses LP's patented and indispensable red Jam Block and a 19" Zildjian cymbal.

Listen to Jimmy tell about his last experience with Luis "Perico" Ortiz and how he managed to collect his money for a recording session.

To learn more about Jimmy Delgado, CLICK HERE.