Walfredo Reyes, Sr. was born in Havana, Cuba and raised in New York City. He began studying music with his father and studied drumming with influential teachers such as Wm. V. Kessler, Morris Goldenberg, Daniel Perez, and Murray Spivak. Walfredo attended the Music and Arts High School in New York City, and then returned to Havana with his family at the age of eighteen.
Walfredo was the first drummer to play Cuban percussion and drum set simultaneously. He also pioneered the first recordings of “descargas”
(Cuban Jam Sessions) with Cuban bassist Israel Lopez (Cachao), recording his own album “Cuban Jazz” in 1954. He was also one of the organizers of the Club Cubano de Jazz (Cuban Jazz Club).
Walfredo recorded with Tito Puente, Tito Rodriguez, José Fajardo and numerous others in New York City. During the same year, he moved to Puerto Rico where he was the drummer at the El San Juan Hotel backing some of the finest acts from the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
Walfredo Reyes, Sr. recorded with a stellar cast of artists in both Cuba and the United States, including Tito Puente, Louie Bellson, Cachao, Alex Acuna, Tito Rodriquez, Chico O’Farrill, Linda Ronstadt, and Steve Winwood. Working in Las Vegas for many years, Walfredo Sr. also performed with Milton Berle, Wayne Newton, Tony Bennett, George Burns, Sammy Davis Jr., Robert Goulet, Rich Little, Bernadette Peters, Rita Moreno, Juliet Prowse, Ben Vereen, and Dionne Warwick. Walfredo Reyes Sr. is one of Cuba’s most influential drummers and one of the pioneers in fusing percussion with drumset. His diverse background and experience make him one of the most in-demand clinicians and educators in the country today. Walfredo Reyes Sr. was recognized for his extensive percussion work with a Modern Drummer Award at the 2005 Modern Drummer Festival.