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Norman Hedman, Versatile Conguero, Dies at 63

Norman Hedman, a conguero, percussionist, producer and composer, died in New York on September 29 at the age of 63. Causes included acute myeloid leukemia and pneumonia.

Hedman, a West Indies native, was distinguished by having brought black American influences to Afro-Caribbean rhythms. With a brand of tropical jazz very different from other congueros, the signature of Norman Hedman’s Tropique included the merger of many styles in his music. His organic approach gathered sounds utilizing instruments such as the vibraphone, flute and alto saxophone. He is also known as the first conga player to have his photograph placed on his congas; an effort to deter thieves.

Before forming Tropique in 1995, Hedman worked as a studio musician after leaving the U.S. Army. Prior to his military service, he graduated from Brooklyn College with a business major in marketing. Years later Hedman developed the PowerLight Media label as a vehicle to market Tropique and other peer albums.

Over the course of 30 years, Hedman performed with numerous artists from within several genres, including the Main Ingredient, New Kids on the Block, Daryl Hall and Alicia Keys. He appeared on five number one hits, three movie soundtracks, and led his own shows at Jazz Standard, Blue Note, the American Museum of Natural History, and other top venues.

Originally Published