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