is an American percussionist
, vocalist, and composer, specializing in frame drums
from around the world. He is largely responsible for the increasing popularity of frame drums in the United States and around the world.
Of Mexican American
ancestry, Velez grew up in Texas
but relocated to New York City
in 1967 or 1968. He began by playing jazz on the drum set
but soon gravitated to hand drums from around the world (frame drums in particular), seeking out teachers from many different musical traditions. Among the many instruments Velez favors in his work are the Irish bodhrán
, the Brazilian pandeiro
, the Arabic riq
, the North African bendir
, and the Azerbaijani ghaval
. Although these instruments are similar in construction they all have their own characteristic playing techniques. Velez has studied each instrument traditionally, but has also developed his own cross-cultural musical vocabulary, mixing and adapting techniques from various cultures and developing new ones (such as playing the bodhrán with brushes). Velez has been influential in the growing international interest in frame drums and many younger players now use his techniques.
He also plays other percussion instruments such as the Venezuelan maracas
and steel drum
, and is skilled at overtone singing
Velez's compositions are frequently composed for cross-cultural ensembles in which he himself also performs; he is particularly fond of polyrhythm
--superimposing different meters simultaneously.
Velez is a... Read More