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Frankie Vazquez

I got to know Frankie Vazquez on a bright sunny day driving up Third Avenue to get coquito for my son, Matthew, and to check out the babes on 116th Street. We had an opportunity to talk about his life as a "minor" percussion player". Of course some people might say it's not so minor," he suggested.

Frankie began playing music on the congas and timbales in Puerto Rico. It was there that he joined a group as a conga player. When the band needed a new singer, Frankie tried out and since then, has been singing and playing percussion, and believe me Frankie's percussion playing is not minor. He gave me a concerto on LP®'s Super guiro that was really exquisite. He got more sounds out of this instrument than I knew existed.

Frankie also plays clavé, maracas, and bells. He plays the bell when he plays charanga, working with Jimmy Delgado so as to complement Jimmy's timbale playing. "It's charanga but we give it that salsa sound." He does the same when he plays with Joe Cuba.

When he first came to New York, Frankie started playing with Fuego 77, then New Swing Sextet, Moncho Leña, Sonero del Barrio. He used to work at the Cheveré Social Club, Manguel's (may he rest in peace) Social Club on 116th Street in El Barrio in New York City. He has been with Manny Oquendo's Libre for about 9 years. In addition, he sang with the Lebron brothers for about 3 years and also sang on their new release. He has worked with La Sonora Matencera for about 9 years as well, and sang and recorded with Javier Vasquez as well as with Angelo Valient. He played a big band style with Ralphie Rosario, Eddie Montalvo, and Jorge Gonzalez. Though the band hadn't had much success, Frankie believes G-d will give him success when it's the right time.

Frankie Vazquez has a rich resume of greatness and I'm sure he lives in the moment of joy making music.

Listen to Frankie. Heard only on MPR: Martin's Percussion Radio.