Willie Colon - United States
Carlos “Carlito” Soto was born of Puerto Rican descent, on September 4th in New York City. His family moved from Newark, New Jersey several years later, where Carlito began his lifelong relationship with the instruments for which he would become known – percussion.
As a young child, Carlito spent Sunday afternoons with his father listening to legends like Tito Puente, Tito Rodriguez, and Mongo Santamaria. At the age of 5, his innate inclination towards music emerged as he began creating his own rhythmic sounds on the family sofa or kitchen table. By age 7, he gave his first talent show performance.
Urging this talent, his father purchased Carlito’s first pair of bongos. Carlito would heat up the skins over the stove in order to tune them to the sounds he wanted! Carlito joined a performance band at age 13, but had to be accompanied by his mother, as he was too young for the night clubs that they frequently performed in. Of his siblings, he would make music his passion and lifetime career.
Carlito soon became known for his fast hands and aggressive playing. He collaborated and recorded with Fania All Star member Reynoldo Jorge. During the same time, he met percussionist Ralph Irizarry, who recommended Carlito to Mr. Hard Hands himself, Ray Barretto.
During his tenure with Ray Barretto, Carlito gained opportunities to perform with groups like Tipica 73 and Mr. Piano Man, Eddie Palmieri. He did not slow down: his recorded musical productions include notables as Tremendo Trio with Celia Cruz, Ray Barretto, Adalberto Santiago, Willie Colon, Cindy Lauper, Luis “Perico” Ortiz, Santiago Ceron, Juan Luis Guerra, Barry Manilow, and David Burns.
As musical director for the legendary Willie Colon “El Malo”, roads continued to lead Carlito to stages around the world. He had also joined Marc Anthony’s band at the height of Marc’s musical career. As an established percussionist and passionate performer, Carlito has made appearances in TV productions like The Cosby Show and Good Day New York, as well as in the Hector La Voe movie, “El Cantante”.
In the social arena, Carlito makes bands consisting of talented professional musicians who deliver the electrifying music. Carlito provides musical entertainment and event management for businesses, corporations, and law enforcement agencies.
Carlito is a savvy veteran and respected legend of his own times that knows and reveals all of his rhythms. He feels strongly about extraordinary performances each and every time. He has a profound passion about his craft and playing music for the love of music. He is a mentor and role model to many top new percussionists.