Gene Perry Orchestra
Noche De Salsa – Salsa Dance Party
A native son of Santurce, a town in San Juan, Puerto Rico also known as “Cangrejo” or “crab,” Gene is an Afro-Latin Percussionist Extraordinaire. During his upbringing Gene was surrounded by African rhythms fused with the rhythms of the Caribbean and Latin cultures. Arriving in the mainland with his father they lived first in Philadelphia then moved to San Diego, California in 1968. His father, a pianist, provided support and encouragement for his musical interests.
His mastered musical style, bomba y plena are traditional Afro-Caribbean music forms from Puerto Rico that influenced Gene greatly in his youth. Settling in the San Diego area Gene began building on his musical vision and was successful at bringing together Afro-Caribbean and Latin musicians. In 1969 he established a dynamic Sunday jam session at the Pepper Grove Park by the Centro Cultural de la Raza in San Diego’s Balboa Park that thrived until 1974. From this group Gene produced the band “Drums on Fire,” a premier Afro-Caribbean percussion band in San Diego.
Mentors and master congueros, Mongo Santamaria, Ray Barretto, and Patato Valdez, were all solid influences. Perry studied with Mongo Santamaria, a prolific teacher, in 1970. Playing at gatherings, injecting Afro rhythms into the community, Perry’s performances have drawn record crowds in the Los Angeles and San Diego areas. He also interjected his developing passion for style. He takes great pride and attention to detail with his performance and personal wardrobe as he does with his music.
Perry has joined the stage with such legends as Tito Puente “El Rey del Timbal”, Poncho Sanchez, pianist Eddie Cano, as well as an extensive list of renowned performers from southern California and internationally known artists. In 1983 Gene formed the popular Latin jazz and salsa band “Afro Rumba.”
Performing and recording a range of rhythms from calypso, reggae, salsa, samba, Afro-Cuban, and African Diaspora music speaks to Perry’s extraordinary abilities and wealth of experience. His diverse musical and social experience have lead to his participation in tours and recording sessions with the traditional Klezmer and Yiddish performer, Yale Strom and his group, Klazzj.
He has made musical contributions to the theatrical performances, Moon on the Rainbow Shawl, and The Colored Museum both directed by Floyd Gaffney of the University of California San Diego Department of Theatre. Also, Gene performed in García Lorca’s classic tragic poem, Yerma, translated and directed by University of San Diego Theatre Arts faculty member, Evelyn Díaz Cruz, and reset in the Caribbean. In 2007, Gene performed in Glasscord, the award winning play by Professor Diaz Cruz and directed by Claudio Raygoza.
In his support of the UCSD academic community, Gene participates in the African and African-American Studies Research Project (AAASRP) Regents Lecture Series.