Israel “Toto” Berriel, at Los Van Van – Nov 27

Toto Barriel will participate in one of the opening acts before the Los Van Van performance on Nov. 27 at Sound Academy in Toronto, 11 Polson St.  There will be local participants including Melissa Noventa ; Orlando  from Montreal  ; Iya Ire  Rumba extraordinaire  group  from Toronto so far announced.  His percussion workshops are acclaimed everywhere he does them, and we hope to organize some in Toronto while he is here.

Toto is a percussionist & singer in the AfroCuban tradition. A native of the city of Matanzas, Cuba he began his professional music career at 16 in “Los Yaruminos” a group formed by children and close family members of recognized AfroCuban and traditional musicians like “Los Muñequitos de Matanzas” and “AfroCuba de Matanzas“.

In 1985 he was invited to form part of the Group AfroCuba de Matanzas. Six years later he left this group to become a part of the world famous “Los Muñequitos de Matanzas” , unexpectedly following in his father’s footsteps. As a youngster, Toto dreamed of becoming a percussionist and pursued his studies with drums in mind. A naturally gifted vocalist with a distinctive sound, the singer in Toto was rapidly discovered and put to use in the world’s best-known Rumba group.

He toured worldwide singing, playing and teaching classes. Some of the countries he visited include: Canada, USA, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Brazil, Spain, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, France and Korea.

His easy charm, curious mind and characteristic Cuban warmth place Toto affectionately in the minds and hearts of his students, creating a comfortable and productive working environment.

In the past decade, Toto has shared the stage with many greats including Herbie Hancock, Los Van Van and Irakere.

Although Toto is deeply steeped in the AfroCuban traditions, he also plays joyfully with the influences of Cuban popular music, American jazz, soul and funk.   In Canada he has performed at numerous events with the group “Bomba” with whom he toured Canada last year through the Jazz Festival Circuit as well as in numerous folk festivals. He has also performed at the 2010 Olympic Torch Relay (Banff); 2010 Olympic Alberta Pavillion (Vancouver) and recorded for CBC Radio and Television and CKUA

Some career highlights:

  • 2001 Latin Grammy Award Winning recording “La Rumba Soy Yo” with the Cuban Rumba All-Stars
  • Performing and recording in Cuba and diverse Countries for Radio and Television
  • Teaching at numerous Universities, Community Colleges and Music Schools (University of Calgary, University of Alberta, Grant MacEwan University, University of British  Columbia, Vancouver Community College, In USA Duke, Stanford, Harbord, Michigan, Jacob’s Pillow)
  • Performed at Apollo Theatre, and New York Symphony Space / World Music Institute.

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