Keisel Jimenez

Conga, Bongo, Drums, Percussion

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Keisel Jiménez Leyva is one of the most in-demand percussionists in Cuba. Born in 1983 in Camagüey, Jiménez worked as a session musician as well as live performer and is especially known for his work with Alexander Abreu y su Havana d’Primera.

In recent days he was playing and touring with Isaac Delgado and performed in the salsa musical Salsa, Mambo, Cha Cha Cha, which was produced by Isaac Delgado and directed by Maija Garcia. Before coming to the United States he was touring with Hayla Maria Mompie through Central America.

Keisel Jiménez Leyva earned his Master’s Degree in Classical Percussion at the Institute of Superior Art (ISA) in Cuba.

During his education, he received the opportunity to tour the world and it’s Jazz Festivals as a drummer with the legendary orchestra Orlando Valle Maraca, performing in venues as Vancouver Jazz Festival, Festival Jazz a Vienne, Festival de Hand Soul Antwerpen, Alegria Festival Maroc, Festival Pori Jazz Finland, Festival Cubain Bayamo France or Festival Jazzellerault France.

Throughout his career Keisel Jiménez Leyva has studied broad range of percussion with diverse teachers in Cuba such as Antonio Liza, Carlito Fuentes, Diomer Gonzales, Roberto Consepción Rubí, Abdel Rivera, Luis Michel Cantero, Damaris, Gretchen Pineda, y Eugenio Silva.

After his graduation he worked as a teacher of percussion himself at Institute of Superior Art (ISA) as well as at the National School of Arts in Havana.

Alongside his fixed engagement with Alexander Abreu y su Havana d’Primera, which ran from 2010 to 2015, Jiménez was one of the founders of El Niño y La Verdad, was an integral part of Alain Perez’s band on his frequent performances in Cuba, regularly played the timbale in Cucurucho Valdés’ Latin Jazz combo and worked with Juan Guillermo (JG) as a musician and a musical counselor. Furthermore he performed with legendary José Alberto “El Canario” during his visit in Cuba.

During one of several world tours with Alexander Abreu y su Havana d’Primera, Jiménez was part of an event that represented homage to the Cuban Trova in New York in 2013 that included artists as Cucu Diamante, Kelvis Ochoa, Ostalgia, Carlos Varela, David Torrent, Raul Paz and Cucurucho Valdes.

In the same year he also was the percussionist on an event called Team Cuba in Lima, Peru, that included performances with important Cuban orchestras such as Klimax, Adalberto Alvarez y su Son, Maykel Blanko, Los Van Van and NG la Banda.

Amidst all his performances, Jiménez was also a well sought after, and successful, session musician. To name some of the many recordings, Jiménez performed with Alexander Abreu y su Havana d’Primera on “Me dicen Cuba” (tumbadora/bongo), “La Bailarina” (drums), “Rosa la Peligrosa” (tumbadora) and he worked with Orlando Valle Maraca on the album Lo que quiero es fiesta (drums/timbale). For the album Llegó la Verdad by El Niño y la Verdad Jiménez designed the entire percussion part and recorded the timbale and the tumbadora. Furthermore he can be heard on several songs of the album Zumilda (drum) that was produced by Joaquín Betancourt, as well as on several songs on Emilio Vega’s Cuba le Canta a Cali (bongo, campana, timbale).

Since December 2015 Jiménez has been living in New York. His goal there being to broaden his musical perspectives and implement his experience, knowledge, and perspective into his surroundings. Most recently he has performed with Adonis Fuentes directed by Oscar Hernández (Spanish Harlem Orchestra).

I believe that in music there are no levels, we all just have a different set of information and experiences. I am a student of my students. The feel and the emotion for me is the most important element of music.

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