Christian M. Vélez |

Christian M. Vélez

Christian M. Vélez

Christian M. Vélez was born in Brooklyn, New York and moved to Puerto Rico while still a child. At an early age he seemed to show interest in his music, but it wasn't until he moved to Cincinnati, Ohio at the age of 17, when his career as a musician really took off.
He began by playing with local Latin band "Latin X-posure" in 1998, shortly after arriving in Ohio. Under the direction of pianist Pat Kelly, they were pioneers in the Cincinnati Salsa era with their 12-piece band. There, he recorded with the band their CD "Dónde Estás", which was later released in 2000.
Following his very first experience, he was asked to join "Fiesta Del Soul" Latin jazz group in 1999. The difference with this group made him an even more well rounded percussionist. With them, he was able to record "Live At Havana Martini". This 7-piece jazz group under the direction of pianist Pat Kelly, was just another taste for him on the different aspects of Latin music altogether.
In 2001 he became a part of Cincinnati's top Latin band "Tropicoso" under the direction of pianist Larry Feldner. In this 9-piece modern salsa band he shone not only as an incredibly skilled bongocero, but also as an entertainer alongside his wife, Carmen. He also recorded with Tropicoso in 2004 the CD "Un Cuento", which was released in 2005. He left the band in 2013, when it was time to find their new home.
Later in 2001, he also joined "Son Del Caribe", another top band in Cincinnati, under the direction of trombonist Jaime Morales. This time, he began as bongocero, moving on later to the role of timbalero. With this 12-piece classic salsa band, he was able to take his playing to a new level by becoming more familiar with his timbales.
By 2004 he had joined yet another Latin band "Zumba Salsa", Cincinnati's smallest Latin ensemble. This was under the direction of Nicholas Radina. In this 6-piece Cuban influenced band he performed as a bongocero for several years and a few others as timbalero. During jamming sessions live, he'd play all 3 percussion roles - congas, bongos, timbales - allowing him the opportunity of becoming more versatile with all his instruments.
Later down the road in 2009 came "Monk River Latin Jazz" group. Under the direction of pianist Pablo Benavides, he also performed as bongocero for several years in this 9-piece jazz band. They then recorded "Monk River Latin Jazz Volume I", in which he also took part of, as timbalero instead.
With musical influences spanning from his immediate family to Latin legends Tito Puente, Ray Barreto, Mongo Santamaría, Orestes Vilató and Johnny "Dandy" Rodríguez, Chris developed a sincere respect for the music he was playing. That respect for the music and knowledge of his role as a percussionist has led him to practice his craft with any band wise enough to let him sit in. He has performed with Salsa favorite Andy Montañez, Lalo Rodriguez, Puerto Rican Power, Chamaco Rivera & Casablanca, Mauro Mosquera, Yan Collazo, Raulín Rosendo, David Pabón, Paquito Guzmán, Héctor Tricoche, Roberto Blades, Larry Harlow featuring Yomo Toro (RIP) from the Fania All-Stars. He has also shared the stage with legendaries Poncho Sánchez, Victor Manuelle, Arturo Sandoval, and El Gran Combo De Puerto Rico.
Appearing on a number of Cincinnati, Ohio produced CDs by Tropicoso ("Un Cuento"), Latin X-posure ("Donde Estás"), Fiesta Del Soul ("Live At Havana Martini"), J. Curve Cincinnati Jazz Collection (Volumes II & III), Monk River Latin Jazz (Volume I), Salsa On The Square (Volumes I, II, III, IV, V, VI), and Eclipse, Chris always finds ways to adapt to different styles within the Latin music genre.
He currently performs in the North Carolina area with the Latin band "Orquesta La Clave", which he joined in September of 2013, right after relocating from Ohio. He also stays busy by doing workshops at a local school, teaching children a little more about Latin percussion, the instruments, and their origins. Chris states - "I will always be the student of my instrument"- a credo that will certainly assure his continued growth as a fine musician.

Current endorsements:
•Tycoon Percussion
•Soultone Cymbals

My Soultone Set: 

17" Custom Brilliant Crash