(Jose Rivera on caja, Angel Rodriguez and Babaila in the background, Photo Credit: Willie "El Ruso" Everich)
"Don't ever sit down with anyone who will ruin the montuno..." (Santiago "Iko" conversing with Jose Rivera)
According to his mom he started around the age of 4, banging on the old export soda cans. The moment came when he about 17 years old, and happened to be playing baseball at his High School (Adlai Stevenson), when he heard a car drive by playing some "plena" and he was hooked. According to Jose, he struck out and said goodbye to his baseball career. His uncles taught him some bomba and plena beforehand, but this had been one of those special awakenings. Jose would go on to play conga in a band by the name of “Tony Aponte y su Conjunto”, the band would later dissolve after the band leader got married. They used to play Tito Puente charts among others.
Jose and a friend by the name of Alex used to play behind a high school on Friday nights in the
I've had the good fortune of meeting Jose and hanging with him. Always humble, he is always willing to share what he knows as long as you are respectful. Once in a while Jose will play a bembe with the younger cats, and speak his mind as to certain behavior that goes on. Gentlemen take heed, because we could use a few more Jose Riveras in the game.