What do Giovanni Hidalgo, Richie Flores, Anthony Carrillo, Jimmie Morales and Willito Lopez have in common besides being virtuoso Puerto Rican percussionists?
They have all come under the tutelage of Master Drummer David Ortiz, better known as "La Mole"
David became known as Quinto Mayor (Master of the Quinto drum) in Puerto Rico after his experience as a member of the Rafeal Cortijo Combo during its final incarnation. A short stocky figure with large bulging biceps and forearms, David was given the name "La Mole" by Ismael "El Sonero Mayor" Rivera.
According to Giovanni Hidalgo, Ismael yelled out "That guy is like the Incredible Hulk or Ben from the Fantastic Four". David "La Mole" Ortiz is a native of Santurce, Puerto Rico, and is regarded as one of the most prolific, talented and melodic tumbadores in the world. At the age of eleven, he learned to play congas from his nine brothers. They taught him all different styles, such as Guaguanco, Bomba, Plena, Rumba Abierta, Yambu, and other Afro-Cuban rhythms native to Puerto Rico and the Carribean.
Roughly four years later, he began playing professionally with a group called Chagin Santos, the brother of the great arranger, Ray Santos. La Mole remained with the band for eight years, in which they performed all over the island of Puerto Rico. Later, Pablo Rosario, a percussionist in his own right, approached La Mole and took him to countless numbers of recording sessions in Puerto Rico. In addition, with the assistance of his brother, La Mole secured live television performance gigs with Iris Chacon and Carmen Jimenez. In 1977, La Mole joined the band of Rafael Cortijo, known as "The Father of the Bomba and Plena," where he remained for three years. "It was during those years with Rafael Cortijo that I learned to authentically play bomba and plena music, as well as how to accompany a band and compliment the music a whole," recalls La Mole.
Among the notable artists whom La Mole has recorded and/or played live with are Gilberto Santa Rosa, Ismael Rivera, Jr., Willy Chirino, Jesus Caunedo, Pedro Guzman, Van Lester, among many others. David's reputation among the rumberos in Puerto Rico is very well established. However, he is relatively unknown among fans and percussionists outside of Puerto Rico. As a teacher of percussion, drum patterns and history of the drums, he has mastered the styles of Tata Guines, Mongo Santamaria and Patato, thus creating a very unique style of playing the conga drum.
He is uniquely able to patiently teach and convey concepts and techniques to anyone with the desire to learn the drums. This is a rare and almost non-existent art among master drummers. La Mole lived a chaotic and hedonistic lifestyle up until 1980 when he became a born again Christian. He has since then lived a quiet and modest life in San Juan teaching percussion and performing with artists such as; Eddie Palmieri, Pedro Guzman, Gabriel Rodriguez, Endel Dueno, Sheila E. and his own group The Omega Drums Project.
He gives private lessons and conducts workshops and clinics in a variety of formats. He has begun to perform music in a variety of secular settings and at the urging of many master musicians, is poised to return to the international scene with his new CD/DVD set. Today, La Mole still resides in Puerto Rico, where he has taught countless young rumberos on the Island, and instilled in them the skills and discipline that has turned them into the next generation of extremely talented and sought-after players. La Mole's teaching is in very high demand, as all players want to learn from El Maestro. Conguero/Trumpeter and bandleader Jerry Gonzalez once commented after moving to Puerto Rico in 1997; "I am finally honored to meet Giovanni's Mentor, El Maestro de Maestros, The Master of Masters, David "La Mole" Ortiz".
David "La Mole" Ortiz is available for public or private, 1on1 lessons or group clinics. For Percussion Clinic info., send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
PLEASE VISIT www.myspace.com/DavidLaMoleOrtiz