Héctor “Coco” Barez is an Adjunct Instructor of Afro-Cuban Percussion at VCU. Born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, he is one of the most active Puerto Rican percussionists of his generation. Educated by bomba and rumba percussionists such as La Familia Cepeda, Los Hermanos Ayala, Los Pleneros de la 23, Alfredo Rodríguez, Nicolás Lebrón, Paoli Mejías, Héctor Calderón, Víctor Emmanuelli, Samuel Gascot, and Raúl Rodríguez, Barez was a member of the Areyto Ballet Folklorico Nacional de Puerto Rico, Pleni-bom, Los Pleneros de la 23 Abajo, Son del Batey, El Bombazo de Puerto Rico de los Hermanos Emmanuelli, Taller Tamboricua, and Bataklán. Coco worked for eight years with the band Los de Atrás Vienen Conmigo, which played for the Puerto Rican rap duo Calle 13 for ten years; he recorded within four of their five Grammy award-winning productions.
Barez has also had the opportunity to perform and record with such artists as Shakira, Alejandro Sanz, Maná, Don Omar, Bacilos, Bayanga, William Cepeda, Cultura Profética, Tamela Hedstrom, Diana Fuentes, Jerry Medina, Mikrowaves, Mekong Express, and Calma Carmona. He is currently a member of Bio Ritmo and Miramar, the latter dedicating its debut album to the great Puerto Rican composer and songwriter Sylvia Rexach. Coco keeps a busy schedule touring with the Miami-based band Bacilos. His own 2017 release, “El Laberinto del Coco,” is prompting a tour during 2020. You can hear the tracks here; the CD features the talents of many VCU-related musicians including Bob Miller, John Lilley, Kelli Strawbridge, Reggie Pace, DJ Williams (Devonne Harris), and Profs. J.C. Kuhl and Toby Whitaker.
Coco received a B.A. in Physical Education from the University of Puerto Rico in Río Piedras. He studied percussion there as well as at the Inter American University of Puerto Rico, the Music Conservatory of Puerto Rico, and the Los Angeles College of Music. He serves as a musician for the Univeristy of Richmond Dance Department and presents workshops about Puerto Rican percussion as he travels. He is sponsored by Meinl Percussion, Vic Firth Drumsticks, Remo Drum Heads, and Paiste Cymbals.