Carlos Vicente Quintero De Jesús, better known as Nene Quintero, was born on October 21, 1946 in the Caracas neighborhood of Marín (a neighborhood of percussionists par excellence), in San Agustín del Sur.
In a family that has produced several musicians, among them his brothers the former “Madera”, Ricardo and Jesús “Chu” Quintero, who died in the Orinoco tragedy; Rafael who lives in Marseille or his nephews Luisito (the “chamo Candela” of Daiquirí), Robert and Chuíto, who live in New York.
During his adolescence he was in several groups and then he played with Los Dementes, the Venezuelan group Pan suerte de Santana with César Monge (Dimensión Latina) and Alfredo Padilla (La Salsa Mayor), Porfi Jiménez, Frank Quintero and Los Balzehaguaos, Yordano and many others.
-What would be the five main moments of his career?
Nené lists them:
1- Having worked with people I went to see at a radio station and then I got to play with them. That was in the 70’s, in a place called Playboy in Altamira, with their bunnies and everything.
I worked with Lewis Vargas and Rafael “Gallo” Velásquez on trumpets; Moscatt was the saxophonist; Willy Pérez, pianist; Jorge Romero, bassist of Aldemaro Romero’s Onda Nueva; and Marcelo Planchart on drums.
2- When I heard on the radio a song I recorded with Los Dementes: “Rómpelo”, which was very popular. I saw myself as a very famous person, I was heard on the radio for the first time.
3- When Eumir Deodato came and proposed me to go with him to the United States.
I was not in conditions to go because I was working very well, I was doing a lot of jingles, I had two children who were starting to study.
I was sacrificing something that was taking shape: my family. I told him I could go, work and come back. The surprise was when a letter arrived for a tour of Mexico and the United States.
Deodato is a very kind person, he gives you freedom to work, we communicated in “Spanglish” and “portuñol” and he loved beer.
4- Seeing Celia Cruz when I was a kid in Marin, going to visit friends like Johnny Perez, from Sonora Caracas, and some time later working with her, even in her last shows, in Montreal.
Celia’s birthday was the same day as mine, and she looked older, but as soon as she started the music and said “sugar!” she was different, she was transformed.
5- Working lately with my nephews Robert and Luisito gave me a lot of emotion: The three of us on the same stage in New York with Celia Cruz.
But there are more experiences. Eros Ramazzotti, for example. “I chose to go to New York and Miami when things got tough here. I worked with Gato Barbieri and with salsa people.
I would go back and forth, two months out and back. I was recording with a saxophonist who worked with Eros and, the following year while I was in Miami he called me for a six-month tour.
I said yes, they called me the following year again and I spent three years with Ramazzotti touring all over Europe, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Central America, Mexico and Miami.
-Any anecdotes with Ramazzotti? –
Once on his birthday he rented a track where they raced cars. We were drinking, driving, talking, talking, listening to music and they brought a cream cake for Eros.
At one point when he was very close to me with the cake in his hand, I put it in his face. It was a mess with everyone throwing things and pieces of cake at each other.
But I got the impression that he was upset and I went over to apologize and explain to him that it was something that could happen on any South American birthday, especially with a cream cake. He told me not to worry, that it was fine.
Other jobs came through Ramazzotti, such as with Jovanotti and Lucio Dalla.
-And how was it with Little Louie Vega, one of the producers and DJs of the moment?
-I met him through Luisito. We have been touring Europe, the United States and Japan for the last three years, and we recorded with Pushim, a Japanese woman, a song that was in the Japanese top ten.
Meanwhile, “Nené’s” routine continues to be more international than ever between the United States, Europe and especially France, where he has been working with a group that bears his name: Nequin Group, with whom he recorded an upcoming album.
“Working abroad is like working here, but in another language”, he reflects on the matter and says that he is preparing a method for percussionists to work with their feet as well as with their hands.
-What has seemed new to you lately in Europe or in these parts?
-Those jazz works in which there is no conventional group with drums or bass, like what I did with Gerry Weil and Pablo Gil at the Corp Group Cultural Center.
THE BATICONGA AND THE “MCGIVER SET”.
The baticonga is a hybrid: drums with conga. I use bass drum, hi-hat, cimbals, toms, snare and cymbals of various thicknesses.
It has a special redoblante with a rim that does not protrude from the leather so that it does not bother when hitting it like a tumbadora.
It is an idea that I have been maturing. It was born because of Yordano’s album that made him famous, Manantial de corazón, there I recorded all the percussion and when it was time to play it live we needed a drummer and two percussionists. We got the drummer, but things were missing and I started to add electronic pedals, electronic drums, octapads and to use feet and hands.
Then we did an unplugged set and it had to be acoustic with congas, bass drum, snare drum, hi-hat, cymbals.
The McGiver set is a djembe with brushes, cymbals with rivets, a conga that is just like a lid, like a tambourine, and I mount it on top of a snare drum stand and a cowbell. A set that does it all.
SIX INFLUENTIAL PERCUSSIONISTS
Alejandro Blanco Uribe and Airto Moreira: “I saw a lot of Gerry Weil with La Banda Municipal in the 70s and Alejandro as a multi-percussionist with effects and accessories.
That led me to look at Airto’s proposal and to fall in love with percussion at a time when I was playing guitar”.
Trilok Gurtu: “For his fusion of oriental music with rock and jazz. I’ve been hearing him since Oregon, and when I heard him with John McLaughlin on the live album in London my jaw dropped.”
Jack DeJohnette: “As a drummer he has a very floaty groove, he can do with the beats what he wants and the rhythm is always there.”
Tony Williams: “Another drummer. I saw a video that aroused my interest because his technique is like the one I use with the baticonga”.
Giovanni “Mañenguito” Hidalgo: “Since he came out the thing changed, he gave another level to the congas or tumbadoras, with him there has been a ‘before and after'”. – with Roberto Quintero and Luisito Quintero.
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