Chris Velez was born in Brooklyn, NY and moved to Vega Alta, Puerto Rico when still a child. He moved to Cincinnati when he was 17 and began playing with the local band Latin X-posure a couple of years later. With musical influences spanning from his brother Victor Velez to Latin legends Tito Puente, Ray Barreto, Mongo Santamaria and Orestes Vilato, Chris developed a sincere respect for the music he was playing. That respect for the music and knowledge of his role as a bongocero led him to practice his craft with any band wise enough to let him sit in.
Tropicoso was getting by as a smaller ensemble in the beginning. Having only timbales and congas in the percussion section, it was always a welcome addition when Chris came by. Eventually the band realized, after Chris had been sitting in on practically every gig, that they had another member. Had the band not recognized his amazing talent, Chris might never have met his wife and lead singer of Tropicoso, Carmen Velez.
Appearing on a number of locally produced CDs by Tropicoso, Latin X-posure, Fiesta Del Soul and J. Curve Cincinnati’s Jazz Collection Volumes II & III, Chris has also shared the stage with Puerto Rican Power, El Gran Combo, Victor Manuelle, Poncho Sanchez, Son De Cali and Arturo Sandoval in addition to performing with Larry Harlow and Yomo Toro from the Fania All-Stars.
Chris states – “I will always be the student of my instrument” – a credo that will certainly assure his growth as a fine musician.