Born on March 17, 1957, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Manolo Badrena is one of the most influential percussionists the world has ever known. He is mostly recognized for his gig with Weather Report, where he established his career. In the 1970s, Weather Report was one of the top modern jazz groups. Badrena was working with the group but at the same time touring with the Rolling Stones with his hands on the percussion set.
He is a talented drummer who always has a nose for new styles. It’s therefore right to say he is an inventor. Manolo Badrena has been playing drums since he was a little boy. That has given him a chance to improve his skills to the professional level he is on right now. He says, “It’s through hard work and dedication” that he is at this level.
His unique drumming style has remained the center of attraction for many who enjoy his work. Manolo Badrena drummed alongside big names like Steve Khan and Spyro Gyna, even as he worked on becoming this iconic percussionist we know today. In the 1980s, he worked on a collaboration with Bill Evans and pianist/composer Carla Bley.
During the same period, the drummer appeared on albums by Pete Levin, John Mayer, and Ahmad Jamal (with whom they have been in a long-time relationship.) But he was more active during the 2000s, a period that saw him perform and record with Zawinul Syndicate and Trio Mundo.
The drummer has seen his share of good times in the 1980s and 90s. He did records with Steve Khan and Eyewitness, teams that were making headlines back then. His partners included Anthony Jackson and Steve Jordan. Manolo Badrena had a long and distinguished career. He is one of the few drummers whose work is seen across the globe and has made a difference in the industry.
You can hear him on record with Brecker Bros, Ahmed Jamal, Toninho Horta, Nile Rodgers, Blondie, Talking Heads, Miami Steve, and Victor Bailey. The list of Badrena’s associates is long. It’s no wonder he is now one of the most sought-after drummers. He also worked on projects with the popular French group called “Six.” Badrena then composed “Rapisrap,” which became a huge hit.
Badrena also wrote “Nu Sungo,” a 1987 hit. Upon returning to the USA, Badrena worked on several projects that saw him establish a big name. He took part in Steve Jordan’s productions. Working for John Scofield and John Mayer then was a great opportunity. In 2004, Badrena put a hold on his touring. It was at the same time he put a full stop on his completed instructional DVD for Rittor Music.
It was called “All That Percussion” and included his World Percussion understanding. It features all the materials he received from his travels. He then made a CD recording with Ahmad Jamal, triggering a tour over the US and Europe. He was also part of another project for Mina Agosti. Today, Manolo Badrena is a resident of Fair View, New Jersey, and leads the Latin jazz band, Trio Mundo.