Our special guest this week is Henry Valladares, a brilliant, versatile, and disciplined percussionist, born on October 22nd in Barquisimeto, Lara State, to a mother from Caracas and a father from Yaracuyo.
Welcome Henry to Salsa Escrita, we would like to know how were your musical beginnings? Thank you Professor Carlos for your invitation to your well-read column. My interest in music began when I was 6 years old since I was very young I listened to salsa records by artists such as Héctor Lavoe, Willy Colón, Rubén Blades, Gran Combo, Sonora Ponceña, and all those acetate records of the time that arrived from Caracas, thanks to my mother who bought them, and in particular the record by José Mangual Jr. (Tribute to Chano Pozo) where at the end of the record there were some tracks where they taught the basic rhythms of salsa percussion (conga Milton Cardona, timbal Jimmy Sabater and the bongo José Mangual Jr.)
That would be my first influence in percussion. I remember that in those years there was a church very close to my house and I listened to the drums and bagpipe drums and I wanted to play and I built my own drum, I made it with a paint dipper and I put a piece of plastic with wick string (that was my first instrument hahaha).
Very good maestro Valladares and at what age did you begin to acquire musical knowledge in a formal way?
At the age of 8, I started my first percussion classes formally dictated at the CEPAS cultural center in San Jacinto, with professor Francisco Escalona in congas and for bongo with professor Wálter Yaguas, later I received training at the BIGOTT foundation (Afro-Venezuelan percussion) in the city of Caracas with professor Jesús Paiva and music and rhythmic reading classes with professor Jesús Blanco (Totoño), as well as different workshops and courses.
I remember one in particular dictated by the percussionist Wílmer Albornoz from Caracas and the percussionist, Pausides Jiménez, from Barquisimeto, there I learned a lot and in the Conservatory of Music Vicente Emilio Sojo of Barquisimeto with professor Tonny González, without forgetting the videos made for the years 1996, 1997 and 1998 by the teachers Giovanni Hidalgo and José Luis Quintana (Changuito), who raised my level of knowledge in the conga, timbal, and bongo.
Much of the training of a percussionist is by his own research and the training is never lost, you continue learning every day.
In what year did you start playing at the orchestral level?
Professor Carlos, in 1994 I started playing in nightclubs with regional groups, playing in groups such as Orquesta la Playa, Nino y su Orquesta, Orquesta Líder, and with most of the dance groups in the city.
Have you accompanied national artists?
Yes, friend Colmenárez, I have accompanied artists such as Billo Caracas Boys, Wladimir Lozano, Néstor Rivero (former teenagers), Betsy Núñez (bolerista), Eli Méndez, Rafa Galindo, Verónica Rey, Memo Morales, Édgar Rodríguez (El Abuelo), Wílmer Lozano, Rodrigo Mendoza, Benjamín Rausseo (Conde del Guacharo), Fabián Santa María, among others.
Have you recorded? I have recorded in different musical productions and artists of different genres.
Since 2003 to date I am a percussionist and assistant musical director of the Latinocaribeña orchestra, belonging to the Maestro Antonio Carrillo Concert Band, the heritage of the state of Lara (135 years old) making presentations in theaters and different places inside and outside the city.
I continue to study Afro-Caribbean instruments and teach in-person and online classes, also giving workshops.
In 2019 I celebrated my 25 years of a musical career, which I celebrated with a very special workshop held at the Conservatory of Music in Barquisimeto.
Henry, what are your next goals? To finish putting together my Latin jazz group.
Well Henry Valladares, for us it was an immense pleasure to have you in our salsa column praising your dedication and discipline in the Afro-Caribbean genre in the percussive part.
And on behalf of International Salsa Magazine www.salsagoogle.com, we congratulate you for your performance representing Barquisimeto.
Thank you very much Professor Carlos for the invitation, long live percussion, and keep on supporting musicians from Barquisimeto and Venezuela.
See you next time and let’s keep salseando!
Article of Interest: Cheo Valenzuela, “El Sonero de la Dulzura”