GRAMMY AWARD NOMINATED Percussionist Wilson “Chembo” Corniel was

born in Manhattan on November 22, 1953 of proud Puerto Rican parents; Chembo

was raised in the humble streets of Red Hook, Brooklyn. It was during these years,

as a quick-witted youngster, that he had the privilege and honor to study with such

percussion luminaries as, Tommy Lopez Sr., “Little Ray” Romero, Louie Bauzo,

and Cachete Maldonado.

Chembo honed his skills at The Harbor Conservatory for the Performing Arts in

New York, and also at the prestigious La Escuela Nacional de Arte in Havana,

Cuba under the direction of the great Chucho Valdés. In Cuba Chembo studied with

Roberto Vizcaino Guillot, Jose Luis Quintana “Changuito”, Papo Angarica,

Alejandro Cavajal Guerra, Lazaro Poderoso, Julito Fantoma, Sandy Perez

(Grupo Afro Cuba De Mantanzas).

His intense studies with such legends noted above channeled his energy onto a path

where Wilson “Chembo” Corniel has now created a reputation for himself among

musicians and the public. Today, he is considered as one of the best hard-hitting,

versatile percussionists around.

Chembo taught percussion to students at the SUNY Purchase Conservatory of

Music and at The Drummers Collective he also leads numerous clinics throughout

the United States and around the world where he brings awareness to others of the

rich Afro-Caribbean traditions.

Among his credits, Chembo was chosen to create his own instructional DVD called,

“An Introduction to Hand Percussion: Volume I—Congas”. It was released in

December of 2000 and with distribution by Warner Brothers it has been a success.

He has been a vital endorser of Latin Percussion instruments since 1982 as he is

currently for Remo drumheads, Vic Firth sticks and Sabian cymbals.

His touring credits are as long as his performing credits. Chembo has toured with

many major artists throughout Europe, Asia, North & South America, and the

Caribbean. Television credits include an appearance on the “Bill Cosby Show” and

Nickelodeon’s children show, “Dora the Explorer”.

Chembo continues to perform and/or record with many artists of different genres. He

is currently concentrating on leading his own Latin Jazz quintet, “Chembo Corniel

Quintet”. Chembo received a GRAMMY NOMINATION by NARAS IN 2009 for

“BEST LATIN JAZZ ALBUM” for his 2009 cd “Things I Wanted To Do”. This is a well-

balanced Latin Jazz group that incorporates many rich traditions, such as writer

Aurora Flores states:

“A sprinkling of be-bop, a touch of swing with a dollop of bomba, rumba,

tango and danzón topped with ‘un chin’ de charanga.”

Wilson “Chembo” Corniel, Jr. Discography


Luis Blasini y Iroko La Banda – Un Beso Y Una Flor (2023)

Chembo Corniel Quintet – Artistas, Músicos Y Poetas (2023)

Arkadiy Figlin 6tet – Inter/Ruptions (2023)

James Zollar – The Ways In (2022)

Mario García – Hagon Mamanitu (2022, single)

Chembo Corniel feat Víctor García – Xiomara (2021, single)

Victor Rendon’s Bronx Conexion – Mambo Boulevard (2021)

Sue Maskaleris – Love Is The Key (2021)

Rie Akagi – La Flauta Mágica (2020)

Andrea Brachfeld – Brazilian Whispers (2020)

Dave Chamberlain’s Band Of Bones – Picadillo? Yes, Madly (2018)

Erin McDougald – Outside The Soirée (2017)

Chembo Corniel Quintet – Land Of The Descendants (2016)

Victor Rendon’s Bronx Conexion – True Flight (2016)

Andrea Brachfeld – Lotus Blossom (2015)

Steve Turre – Spiritman (2015)

Ray Martínez – Legacy (2015)

Dave Chamberlain’s Band Of Bones – Stomp! (2015)

Dave Chamberlain’s Band Of Bones – Caravan (2014)

The Paul Carlon Trío – Tresillo (2013)

Paul Carlon – La Rumba Is A Lovesome Thing (2013)

Andrea Brachfeld – Lady Of The Island (2012)

Mena Keyz & Marlon D – Sparks (2012)

Wilson “Chembo” Corniel – Afro Blue Monk (ASM) (2012)

Lou Pallo of Les Paul’s Trío – Thank You Les (2012)

Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra – Live In Shanghai (2011)

Joe Magnarelli + Strings – My Old Flame (2010)

Simone & Her Hawaiian Jazz Band – Alomas Of Hawaii (2010)

Dave Chamberlain – Band Of Bones (2010)

Wilson “Chembo” Corniel – “Things I Wanted To Do” (2009) (Grammy


Akiko Tusuruga – Oriental Express (2009)

3D Ritmo De Vida – Que Siga La Rumba (2008)

Pulpo – Pulpo’s Hot Bread (2008)

Wilson “Chembo” Corniel – “For The Rest Of Your Life” (2007)

Carlos Jiménez – El Flautista (2007)

Mark Sherman – Family (2007)

Akiko Tusuruga – Sweet And Funky (2006)

Chris Washburne & The SYOTOS Band – Land Of Nod (2006)

Harvie S. – Funky Cha (2006)

Chembo Corniel & Andrea Brachfeld – Beyond Standards (2006)

Gregg August – Late August (2005)

Willie Martinez La Familia Sextet – Family (2005)

Hilton Ruiz – Steppin’ With T.P. (2005)

Wilson “Chembo” Corniel – Portrait In Rhythms (2004)

Tessa Souter – Listen Love (2004)

Ray Vega – Squeeze Squeeze (2004)

Chris Washburne & The SYOTOS Band – Paradise In Trouble (2003)

Ximo Tébar – Embrujado (2003)

Steve Wilson - Soulful Songs - 2003

Larry Harlow’s Latin Jazz Encounter - Live At Birdland (2002)

Chico Freeman y Guataca – Oh, By The Way … (2002)

Ray Vega Latin Jazz Sextet – Pa’lante (2002)

David Clayton-Thomas – Christmas Album (2002)

David González with Larry Harlow and The Latin Legends Band – Sofrito! (2001)

Chris Washburne & The SYOTOS Band – The Other Side (2001)

Puerto Rico Heineken Jazzfest 2001 – En Honor A Jesús “Chucho” Valdés (2001)

Bobby Sanabria – … Live & In Clave (2000) Grammy Nominated

Chris Washburne & SYOTOS – Nuyorican Nights (1999)

Ray Vega – Boperation (1999)

Larry Harlow’s Latin Legends Band – In Loving Memory Of Jerry Masucci (1998)

The Bronx Horns – Silver in the Bronx (1998)

Buddy Montgomery Trio – Here Again (1998)

The Greg Abate Quintet – Happy Samba (1998)

Ray Vega - Ray Vega (1997)

Henri Guédon – Rétrospective (1996)

Toby Rivera y La Orquesta Rayo Power – Here And Now (1992)

Oscar Figueroa & Su Orquesta – … Estoy Enamorado (1992)

Willie Colón – Honra y Cultura (1991)

Louie Ramírez – El Genio (1989)

Louie Ramírez – Noches En Copa Con Louie Ramírez (1989)

Louie Ramírez – Sexy Salsa (1989)

Louie Ramírez – Louie Ramírez y Super Banda – 1987

Henri Guédon – Afro Temple (1984)

José Bello – José Bello y Su Orchestra (1981)

Reynaldo Jorge And His Orchestra – No Sufro (1981)

Bobby Rodríguez Y La Compañía – The Force Of The 80’s (1981)

Bobby Rodríguez Y La Compañía – Hay Que Cambiar La Rutina (1980)

Nosotros – Nosotros (1979)


 Chucho Valdés

 Hilton Ruiz

 Buddy Montgomery

 Angela Bofill

 Tito Puente

 Grady Tate


 Willie Colón

 Toshiko Akiyoshi

 Jane Bunnett & Spirits of Havana

 Bobby Sanabria Big Band

 Charlie Sepulveda

 Andrea Brachfeld

 Ray Vega

 Bob Baldwin

 Jose Alberto “El Canario”

 Pete “El Conde” Rodriguez

 Larry Harlow

 Tito Nieves

 Louie Ramirez

 Chico Freeman

 Chris Washburne & the Syotos Band

 Chico O’Farrill Big Band

 Bobby Rodriguez y Compañia

 Lainie Kazan

 Celia Cruz

 Juan De Marcos Gonzalez & The

Afro Cuban All Stars

 Pete Escovedo

The Artist

If ever there was a musician that has paid his dues and quite possibly cried the blues it would be Conga master and all around percussionist Wilson “Chembo” Corniel. From his humble beginning in Red Hook, Brooklyn in the 1970’s and on he was blessed to be mentored by some of the legends of percussion such as; Tommy Lopez, Little Ray Romero, and Cachete Maldonado among others. Along the way he studied at the Harbor Conservatory for the Performing Arts in New York and in Cuba at Escuela Nacional de Arte. The director of the “Escuela” at the time was none other than the great pianist, Chucho Valdez of “Irakere” fame and and for Chembo a major influence. Chembo is first and foremost a product of the New York Latin “Cuchifrito circuit”, the equivalent of the Jazz and Soul music “Chitlin circuit”. Either circuit was grueling often doing a “Double” or a “Triple” gig in one day! Honing his craft along side the creme-de la-creme in Jazz, Latin and Latin Jazz. Chembo has played and or collaborated with such luminaries as; Tito Puente, Machito, Louie Ramirez, Chucho Valdes, Grady Tate, Chico Freeman, and Larry Harlow’s Latin Legends band. The latter Chembo currently still tours with, this my friends is just a snippet of Chembo Corniel’s resume. I recall a performance in the late seventies or the early eighties at the now defunct “Corso” nightclub on 86th st and Lexington and there was Chembo holding that solid “Tumbao” and driving the Bobby Rodriguez y la Compania band forward. Now back to the future, now have Chembo Corniel and his “Grupo Chaworo”.

Grammy Award Nominee, Percussionist Wilson “Chembo” Corniel studied music at The Harbor Conservatory for the Performing Arts in New York City, Pastore Music in New Jersey, and also attended La Escuela National de Arte (ENA) in Havana, Cuba in 1997 and 1999 under the direction of Chucho Valdez. Chembo is a member of the faculty at Purchase College and teaches percussion privately. Chembo had the pleasure of working/touring and or recording with many artists such as Chucho Valdez, Larry Harlow, Tito Puente, Machito, Celia Cruz, Grady Tate, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Hilton Ruiz, Dave Valentin, Willie Colon, Angela Bofill, Steve Wilson, Ray Vega, Buddy Montogmery, Bob Baldwin, Chico Freeman and many more. Chembo now leads his own Latin Jazz quintet “Grupo Chaworo” since October 2001 and also started his record company “Chemboro Records, Inc.“ in 2004. Chembo Corniel has landed a nomination from the 52nd NARAS GRAMMY AWARDS for his latest CD entitled “Things I Wanted To Do” for “BEST LATIN JAZZ ALBUM“ 2009.

“Chembo Corniel is the consummate contemporary percussionist…whose technique is like adding hot spices to a cold salad and the blend of this group of musicians can make me sing forever.” – Grady Tate, Jazz Vocalist

The Educator

Wilson “Chembo” Corniel & “Grupo Chaworo”
Children’s Latin Jazz workshop / performance

1. Explain what type of music we are performing for them today.
2. Describe each instrument and its origin, ex: piano, bass, drums, saxophone, congas & assorted percussion instruments, etc.
3. Play each instrument separately to identify the different sounds that they produce.
4. The band plays 3-5 different styles of rhythms (mambo, cha cha cha, bomba, plena, bolero, merengue, etc.) We then explain where each rhythm came from.
5. I’ll have an assortment of different percussive instruments to show how each is played.
6. Interaction with the children (children will get a chance to play these instruments with the band).
7. We will close out by playing one or two songs.
8. Q & A


Chembo plays Latin Percussion instruments, Remo drum heads, Vic Firth sticks and Sabian cymbals.