Viento de Agua is an original Latin dance/performance band with a groundbreaking new sound. The term itself refers to a Puerto Rican phrase used to describe the damp and humid air that precedes a heavy rainstorm.
The traditional Afro-Puerto Rican rhythms bomba y plena, are combined with various Afro-Caribbean rhythms and jazz to create a fresh contemporary style. The result of this fusion is an explosive sound that both seduces the most skilled dancer and stimulates the most sophisticated listener. Hector 'Tito' Matos, the director of Viento de Agua, explains the concept: “Our purpose is to disseminate our original and creative way of performing these ancestral rhythms not only to our Latino audience but to the rest of the world as well.”
This ensemble was conceived and created in New York City in the fall of 1997. Percussionist and singer Héctor 'Tito' Matos, a native of Santurce, Puerto Rico came up with the idea that master musicians Ricardo Pons and Alberto Toro helped materialize. They recruited some of the best musicians in New York to play the aggressive arrangements: drummer Bobby Sanabria, pianist Desmar Guevarra, bassist Waldo Chávez, and trombone player Joe Fiedler were part of the original band.
During the fall of 1998, Viento de Agua presented their first production under the Qbadisc Label, “De Puerto Rico al Mundo,” produced by Ned Sublette, a recording that received enthusiastic reviews by The New York Times, Latin Beat Magazine and other publications. The record made them winners of the Prestigious 2000 SUNSHINE Award for Best Caribbean Tropical Album, in New York City.
In 2001, Viento de Agua had their first solo concert at a sold-out Hostos Center for the Performing Arts. This led to them performing in numerous important venues, including: WolfTraps Jazz Festival, MassMoca Jazz Fest, Lincoln Center’s Outdoors, Lincoln Center’s MidSummer Nights, Celebrate Brooklyn, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, and Smithsonian’s Folkways Festival.
After returning to his native Puerto Rico in 2004, band leader Tito Matos restructured the band, incorporating some of the island’s up-and-coming musicians to the project. In the same year the band released “Viento de Agua Unplugged: Materia Prima,” for Smithsonian Folkways Recordings to much acclaim. On this recording they went for an exclusive all percussion setting using only the hand held plena drums (panderetas) and other traditional percussive instruments as the sole accompaniments for the vocalizations. The record included extensive liner notes outlining the origins of the bomba y plena rhythms.