Few percussionists have done as much to further the marriage of jazz, rock and Cuban music as Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez. Through his work with jazz luminaries like Dizzy Gillespie, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Michel Camilo and Latin rock icon Carlos Santana, Hernandez has become Afro-Cuban music’s most visible drummer.
Growing up in a house filled with music in Cuba, Hernandez was exposed to the traditional music his Grandfather loved, the progressive jazz sounds of his father, and the American rock music his brother tuned in from nearby Miami radio stations.
“El Negro” worked his way up in the Cuban recording and performance community, playing with artists like Rubalcaba, and recording more than 300 records during his time in Havana.
Having built an international reputation via his work with Rubalcaba, Hernandez defected to Italy in hopes of transitioning from there to New York. He spent three years there, teaching at a conservatory and performing regularly in Rome’s busy club scene.
When the opportunity arose to relocate to NY, he was offered a gig with Latin jazz piano master Michel Camilo. Through his work with Camilo, Dave Valentin and the TropiJazz All-Stars, Hernandez played on the most influential Latin jazz recordings of the ‘90s.
He was introduced to mainstream audiences in 1997 having performed on Carlos Santana’s multi-grammy award winning hit album “Supernatural”. Hernandez earned his first Grammy with Roy Hargrove’s Crisol recording “Havana”, and the second with Michel Camilo’s “Live at the Blue Note”, which took Best Latin Jazz Album in 2003. The Grammy winners Alejandro Sanz’s “No es lo mismo” and Eddie Palmieri’s “Listen Here!” both featured Horacio “El Negro” in their line up.
El Negro’s debut as a bandleader came in 2003 with the release of “El Negro & Robby at the Third World War” with the drummer Robby Ameen, follow by the self-titled CD “Italuba” which features El Negro’s own quartet. In 2005 he recorded “Italuba II”, resulting in countless gigs and nine European tours over the last three years.