“Percussionists Cycle at ISM”
Tell me your name in leather, Little Johnny, Little Johnny
Conguero, percussionist, producer, songwriter and bandleader Little Johnny Rivero has performed all over the U.S., Canada, Europe, Africa, Asia, Caribbean and the South Pacific.
Born in New York City to Puerto Rican parents, Rivero, as young boy, was drawn to Latin jazz and the sounds and rhythms of the rumbero players in the NYC area. At age 10, Johnny began practicing percussion and joined his school band.
Soon after, he took dance lessons, which eventually led to performances on stage with the bands of the era at such famous venues as the Manhattan Center, the Colgate Garden, the Copacabana, and the Palladium.
At age 14, Rivero joined Orquesta Colon, the youngest Latin band in New York City, and recorded two albums with them.
In 1973, Rivero moved to Puerto Rico with his parents, and joined La Sonora Ponceña in 1974.
After playing bongos with them for a year and a half, he switched to congas, which rekindled the love he had with the instrument as a small child.
Rivero attributes the rhythms and professional conduct he learned from Quique Lucca and his son, Papo Lucca, as qualities that have made him what he is today.
During the 16 years Rivero played with La Sonora Ponceña, he traveled worldwide and made 18 highly respected albums with them.
Rivero has recorded with such producers as Eddie Palmieri, Brian Lynch, and Dr. Lonnie Smith. In May 1997, Rivero shared the stage with his inspiration and idol, Jose Mangual. Rivero’s credits also include work with Charlie Palmieri, Dave Valentin, Ruben Blades, Cheo Feliciano, Andy Montanez, Ismael Miranda, Celia Cruz, Giovanni Hidalgo, Ray Barretto, Patato Valdez, Changito, Tata Guines, John Santos, Sergio George, Bebo Valdes, Paquito D’Rivera, Tito Puente, and numerous other artists.
Rivero’s first solo effort, “Pasos Gigantes,” was well received by critics and music fans alike.
He wrote and produced every song on that CD, showcasing his arranging and playing abilities.
He is currently working on his next CD, “Music in Me,” his first Latin Jazz album, which will include musicians, Brian Lynch on trumpet, Zaccai Curtis on piano and keyboards, Luques Curtis on bass, Louis Founche on saxophone, Andrei Matorin on violin, Ludwig Alfonso on drums, and Anthony Carrillo on bongo and bata drums.
Currently, Rivero is traveling internationally with Grammy Award winner Eddie Palmieri.
He also continues to record in studio sessions and perform with many of the most respected acts in Latin music, including his own band.