One of our drummers is missing

By DAVID S. BERNSTEIN  |  June 25, 2008

Either/Orchestra with Lebron (front left)

The Somerville-based Latin-jazz ensemble Either/Orchestra has gigs scheduled this weekend in London and Glastonbury, but their long-time percussionist won’t be along for the trip. He’s locked up in a Boston jail — not for committing any offense, but because the US Department of Homeland Security has decided to have him deported.

Vicente Lebron, born in the Dominican Republic, has lived in the US for 38 years. He is married with grown children (and grandchildren) who were born and raised US citizens. He has a green card and a passport. He has traveled in and out of the country many times, thanks to Either/Orchestra’s world-wide popularity. He and his congas are, safe to say, a mainstay of Boston’s music scene.

All of that did him no good when the group returned from Europe in mid May, after performing in Germany and Holland. For reasons that are unclear — his attorney, Lenore Glaser, won’t discuss the case for fear of antagonizing the immigration judge, and the Phoenix was not able to get an explanation from Customs and Border Protection by press time — Homeland Security agents at Logan Airport decided that Lebron is no longer welcome in the US. He was officially placed into removal proceedings at a June 9 hearing — a status that triggers mandatory detention. An Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson confirms that Lebron is now imprisoned in the Homeland Security wing at South Bay Correctional Center, where he will remain until his deportation hearing on July 10.

It’s the reverse side of the immigration woes that have prevented musicians from entering the US for gigs. But in this case, there is much more at stake than concert bookings. Lebron, who has lived in the Boston area since 1974, faces expulsion from everything he has called home for most of his adult life.

Lebron’s friends and supporters, including fellow Either/Orchestra members and musicians throughout the local jazz and Latin-music communities, are planning a benefit concert to cover legal expenses at Ryles in Cambridge, tentatively slated for July 14 or 15.

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