One of the outstanding musicians featured by the Waxahachie Symphony Association will share his knowledge in percussion to area high school students later this month.
Henry Brun is a professional conga player in the band, "Henry Brun & the Latin Playerz," who will perform at the Southwestern Assemblies of God University Hagee Center on Saturday, Feb. 23. Before the show gets rockin’, Brun will share his creative techniques.
“The main idea is to have fun and kind of gearing everyone up for the performance in the evening,” Brun said.
Topics to be covered will include Latin jazz as an art form, technical style aspects of Latin jazz, integration of percussion in different ensembles, rhythm analysis with hands-on demonstrations.
“It’s education awareness of how cool percussion can be under any kind of music setting,” he elaborated. “We will demonstrate theses instruments and the other part of the workshop will be hands on. If you are there, believe me, you will play.”
The workshop will take place on Feb. 23 from 1:30—2:45 p.m. at the SAGU Hagee Center, located at 499 E. University Ave. If interested, individuals can reserve a spot by emailing, firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE MAN BEHIND THE CONGA
The conga dynamo has been dubbed, “Mr. Ritmo” (Mr. Rhythm) by his fans, and is hailed as one of the most talented and hardest working professional musicians and band leaders in the Southwestern United States.
His motto, appropriately, is “Work hard, play hard, and always find joy in what you are doing.”
“Henry Brun and the Latin Playerz are renown for their talent through the United States,” said Melissa Chapman, president of the Waxahachie Symphony Association. “Their show is reminiscent of the old time band leaders like Ricky Ricardo and will be sure to have everyone swaying to their Latin beat.”
Brun currently lives in the culture of San Antonio but was born in the South Bronx, New York, in 1960 to Puerto Rican parents.
“I come from a nonmusical family,” Brun disclosed.
“It was actually the musical mecca for Latin music in New York — some of the greatest legends on Earth when it comes to Latin music they all lived in that neighborhood,” he explained.
Brun first played congas at age seven, and the following year, his family moved to Puerto Rico where Henry began studies at the Juan Morel Campos Escuela Libre De Música in Ponce. Brun said he was playing professionally by age 11.
In 1974, he performed his first professional engagement with the popular Latin pop group, Danny Cruz. Brun continued studies under pianist-composer Eduardo Flores Mattei. Henry’s expertise includes congas, bongos, timbales and the ethnic percussion instruments of Africa, Brazil and the Middle East. He worked with legends such as Maynard Ferguson, Bob Hope and Lucille Ball.
He was also influenced by Latin music pioneers such as Tito Puente, Patao, Buyu, Mongo and Candido. Through these artists, Brun established his own unique style and techniques on bongos and timbales.
Brun has now performed on more than 800 recordings, including numerous Grammy-winning and gold and platinum-award winning albums. He played in the BET Network’s Jazz Central, Televisa’s Raza de Campeones and in the BBC documentary Texas Saturday Night.
Brun has even been a guest artist in 30 Grammy nominated productions from 2002-12.
In 1989, Henry Brun formed “The Latin Playerz,” a popular group noted for its blend of Latin, rhythm and blues, swing and straight-ahead jazz. “The Latin Playerz” easily adapts to a variety of performing venues without compromising its high artistic and musical standards.
The group regularly performs throughout the U.S. and abroad, including Cuba’s Festival International Del Caribe, the Heineken Jazz Festival in Puerto Rico, Festival International De Jazz in Mexico, the Houston International Jazz Festival, Jazz a Vienne in France, Montreaux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, Taichung International Jazz Festival and Kaohsiung Zuoying Wannian Folklore Festival of Taiwan.
The Latin Playerz are three-time winners of Univision’s annual “Latin Jazz Band of the Year” Premios a La Música Latina. The Playerz’ album “Rhythms and Reeds — A Tribute to the Master Duke Ellington” was named one of the top Latin Jazz releases of 2009. New York’s The Latin Jazz Corner nominated Henry Brun as one of the best Latin jazz percussionists of 2010 and named his arrangement of “Upper Manhattan Medical Group” one of the best Latin Jazz arrangements of 2010.
In 2018, a proclamation was presented to Henry by the Office of the Governor, State of Texas, Texas Music Office for his lifetime achievements in Music, also declaring April 18 as Henry Brun Day.
Brun’s professional discipline and dedication to musical excellence have earned him the opportunity to tour and record with such artists as Arturo Sandoval, Justo Almario, Charo, Los Lobos, Texas Tornados, Little Joe y La Familia and Los Super Seven. Brun is a committed and active educator and clinician.
When Brun is not on the road performing, he can be found presenting educational workshops or touring with international acts.
All Waxahachie Symphony Association concerts take place at 7 p.m. at the Hagee Center on the campus of Southwestern Assemblies of God University. Shows last an hour and 30 minutes with a 10-minute intermission.
For more information on the WSA, log onto waxahahicesymphonyassociation.org or follow the organization on Facebook. Season tickets vary per age and bundle prices are available. Individual tickets cost $20 per adult, college student tickets cost $8 while children 18 and under are free.