Tag Archives: Latin jazz

Acclaimed Latin Jazz Trumpeter and Percussionist Jerry Gonzalez Dead at 69

Today, the Latin Jazz community is mourning the loss of trumpeter and conguero Jerry Gonzalez. Reports of a fire at his home in the Lavapiés district of Madrid summoned Spain’s National Police and paramedics where they discovered the musician. He was rushed to San Carlos Clinical Hospital where he died hours later. Mr. Gonzalez was 69.

Mr. Gonzalez was born into New York City’s Puerto Rican community on June 5, 1949. The rich world of music was already a staple in the Gonzalez house with Jerry Gonzalez, Sr. serving as a master of ceremonies and a lead singer along with musicians like Claudio Ferrer. His brother and bassist Andy Gonzalez would go on to follow his own musical career, often playing with his brother.

Taking up the trumpet and congas in junior high school, Mr. Gonzalez launched his musical career playing with local bands. After attending the New York College of Music and New York University, Mr. Gonzalez started playing with Lewellyn Matthews and in the 1970s played congas with Dizzy Gillespie and began merging African rhythms into jazz themes. He was a stalwart proponent of Latin music and an indefatigable explorer of the possibilities of Latin Jazz.

Mr. Gonzalez would go on to play with the likes of Jaco Pastorius, Tito Puente, Manny Oquendo and Eddie Palmieri. He found his groove by heading up The Fort Apache Band. Recordings like Ya Yo Me Cure, The River is Deep, Obatala, Pensativo, Calle 54, Rumba Buhaina and Jerry Gonzalez y El Comando de La Clave would soon stack up alongside appearances on Kip Hanrahan’s Coup de Tete, Tito Puente’s On Broadway, Carlos “Patato” Valdes’s Masterpiece, Steve Turre’s Viewpoints on Vibrations, Kirk Lightsey’s Kenny Kirkland, Bobby Hutcherson’s Acoustic Master II and Sonny Fortune’s A Better Understanding.

Jerry Gonzalez

Settling in Spain and lending his talents to flamenco, Mr. Gonzalez appeared with Diego “El Cigala” on Corren Tiempos de Alegria and Picasso en Mis Ojos and Paco de Lucia on Cositas Buenas, as well as collaborated with Javier Limon on La Tierra del Agua and Son de Limon and Andres Calamaro on Obras Incompletas and On the Rock.

Mr. Gonzalez earned film credits as well in Leon Ichaso’ s Crossover, Fernando Trueba’s Calle 54 and Leon Ichaso’s Pinero. In addition to The Fort Apache Band, Mr. Gonzalez also led the quartet El Comando de la Clave with Miguel Blanco.

The General Society of Authors of Spain (SGAE) issued a tweet mourning Mr. Gonzalez’s loss by calling him, “one of the pioneers of Latin Jazz and founder of the legendary group Fort Apache Band.”
No announcement has been made yet on funeral or memorial services


Puerto Rican Hipness in West Side Story Reimagined

Bobby Sanabria – West Side Story Reimagined (Jazzheads, 2018)

Drummer, musical director and arranger Bobby Sanabria and the Multiverse Big Band have recreated the music originally composed for a popular Broadway musical theater play called West Side Story. The piece, inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, focused on the love story between members of two New York Gangs, one of which is Puerto Rican.

Although Bobby Sanabria was born in the USA, he grew up in a proud Puerto Rican family. Sanabria skillfully has inserted Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican and even Brazilian rhythmic elements like cha cha cha, mambo, bomba and more into the original score by Leonard Bernstein. What was originally a classic Broadway score, now features irresistible Latin jazz beats and full big band richness.

The musicians that appear in the album include Bobby Sanabria on musical director, drum set with cowbells, police whistle, samba whistle and lead vocals; Kevin Bryan, Shareef Clayton, Max Darché and Andrew Neesley on trumpet; David De Jesús on lead alto and soprano saxophones and flute; Andrew Gould on alto saxophone and flute; Peter Brainin on tenor saxophone and flute; Yaacov Mayman on tenor saxophone, flute and clarinet; Danny Rivera on baritone saxophone; David Miller, Tim Sessions, Armando Vergara on trombone; Chris Washburne on bass trombone; Gabrielle Garo on flute and piccolo; Ben Sutin on electric violin; Darwin Noguera on piano; Leo Traversa on electric bass; Oreste Abrantes on congas, itotele batá drum and second voice; Matthew González on bongo, cencerro, primo bomba drum, Iyá batá, requinto pandereta, ganza and Dominican güira; Takeo Heisho on claves, Cuban güiro macho, cencerro, Puerto Rican guicharo, okonkolo batá drum, Cuban and Venezuelan maracas, chékere, tambourine, cuica, pandeiro, triangle, gong and police siren.

The double album West Side Story Reimagined is a masterful Latin jazz work by Bobby Sanabria, one of the great Latin music drummers of our time, and the exceptionally good Multiverse Big Band.

Buy West Side Story Reimagined from amazon.com


Les Moncada Chats with Master Conguero and Batalero Tony Rosa

There are drummers, then there are drummers. Some go out of their way for exceptional things to happen to them. Tony Rosa, master conguero and master batá drummer, resided in the City of Los Angeles, California. He played batá for the Orisha community for 7 years with conga batá master, legend of legends, Francisco Aguabella, from Matanzas, Cuba.

Francisco was a very stern group leader; whether it was his Latin Jazz Orchestra or Folkloric group and his religious batá ceremonies. Francisco either liked you or he didn’t like you. It was always beneficial to be on his good side. Francisco had three Afro-Cuban folkloric groups in California: one in San Francisco, another one in Los Angeles, and a third in Sacramento. Sometimes I say ‘Masters’ are so good, that they actually are not teachers.

Francisco Aguabella’s apprentices have reached legend status and Tony Rosa is one of them. Tony Rosa performed with Francisco Aguabella’s Afro Cuban folkloric group in Los Angeles, along with batá master Virgilio Figueroa and Francisco Aguabella.


Virgilio Figueroa, Francisco Aguabella & Tony Rosa


Virgilio Figueroa, also from Matanzas, Cuba, made a remark in one article I wrote for World Music Central, where Virgilio contributed on a tribute to Francisco Aguabella. He said that Francisco showed his apprentices Afro Cuban rhythms that are no longer played in Matanzas today!

Tony Rosa took the big step and moved to New York City. Being an accomplished conga drummer, he linked with great all time master timbalero Manny Oquendo and Conjunto Libre, with co-leader bass legend Andy Gonzalez, brother of legendary conguero and trumpet player Jerry Gonzalez. Tony also performed and recorded with the legendary group Conjunto Folklórico Nuevoriqueño Experimental and recently won a Grammy performing and recording with Arturo O’Farrill.

Let see what Tony has to say about his life and career.


Tony Rosa, Jerry (Gerald) Gonzalez & Gene Golden


Tony, tell me your background, or family background in Latin music and drumming.

I am Puerto Rican, born in New York City, raised in Los Angeles, California. My father is from Mayagüez, Puerto Rico and my mother from Loiza, Puerto Rico. My influence comes from my mother, being a priestess of Elegua and taking me to all the African dance classes and “tambores” (religious drum ceremonies) as a kid.

How did you meet conga bata master Francisco Aguabella? Tell us some of your history with Francisco Aguabella.

I met Francisco Aguabella in Los Angeles in the 1980s. Francisco was very serious when it came to Cuban drumming (batá, yesa, etc…) He was very selective with who he would share and teach Matanzas-style drumming with.

So how was it that it occurred for you to go to New York City from Los Angeles?

I went to perform in New York with El Chicano. While there, I hung out, checking out other Latin bands. The music vibe in New York was intense at that time. Salsa was booming. I felt like I wasn’t growing musically in Los Angeles so I decided to move to New York in 1996.


Tony Rosa – Photo by Kirk Richard Smith


You performed with Manny Oquendo and Conjunto Libre. What was your experience with that orchestra?

I started with Manny Oquendo y Conjunto Libre in 2000. Never ever did I think I would be with Libre steady. Manny was very picky when it came to conga players. That’s how I got respect from others; plenty wanted “that chair”. Laughs out loud.



What other bands have you played with in New York?

In New York I have performed and shared the stage with artist like Nelson Gonzales (legendary tres player), Miles Peña, Chocolate’s group Grupo Foklórico Nuevayorkino Experimental, DLG, Orlando “Puntilla” Rios, Bebo Valdés, MalPaso Dance Co. from Havana Cuba, Lou Soloff, among other artists.

What do you think is the difference in musicianship Los Angeles, vs. New York City?

There are great musicians and drummers everywhere, I think it’s all about attitude. New York musicians are aggressive, where Los Angeles musicians are more laid back. My opinion!


Tony Rosa


You won a Grammy. Tell us a little about that situation?

Winning a Grammy was very exciting and awesome. My first Grammy was with Cachao Master Sessions in Los Angeles 1994. I didn’t find out till later on. Conguero Richie Flores informed me. I am so proud to say I am a 4 times Grammy Award Winner, feeling blessed. The other 3 Grammys were with Arturo O’Farrill and The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra.

What are you doing now musically in New York?

I currently have a 9-5 and traveling and still playing drums.


Tony Rosa & John Rodriguez


What does the future bring for Tony Rosa, master conguero and batalero, the musician?

I am currently working on my own project CD, recording. Latin Jazz with Afro Cuban and Puerto Rican rhythms. Lots of drums…



Thank you, Tony Rosa for your interview. Now that I have up and coming musicians that have been in the circuit for a while, the next few interviews that I will be doing is with the middle generation of musicians, to expose their contributions to the Latin music community. Those musicians are Latin percussionist, orchestra leader and Puerto Rican Folkloric Director, California-based Jeri Quiñones from Vieques, Puerto Rico and legendary Latin bassist Lalo Vazquez from northern California, residing in Mexico City. There will also be other specialty interviews to surprise the readers as well.


Artist Profiles: Michel Camilo

Michel Camilo

Michel Camilo was born into a musical family and played accordion before switching to piano at the age of nine. In 1979, he arrived to New York, where the self-taught student of American jazz, continued his studies and made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1985. After three years as a member of Paquito D’Rivera’s band, in 1988, Camilo released his self-titled Epic debut. The album became an instant success and held the top jazz album spot for eight consecutive weeks. His next recording, On Fire, was voted one of the top three Jazz Albums of the Year by Billboard and 1990s On the Other Hand was a top-ten jazz album.

In 2000, Camilo’s Verve release, Spain, with Spanish flamenco guitar maestro Tomatito, won Best Latin Jazz Album in the first-ever Latin Grammy Awards. Camilo also appeared on the soundtrack CD for the acclaimed Latin jazz film Calle 54, directed by the Oscar-winning Spaniard Fernando Trueba.

2002 marked a special year for the ever-versatile Camilo with the release of two albums, one classical and one Jazz. In February, Decca released his Concerto for Piano & Orchestra, Suite for Piano, Strings and Harp & Caribe, to celebrate his guest appearance with the NSO conducted by Leonard Slatkin at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., and in March Telarc released Triangulo.

August 2003 marked the Telarc release of Live at the Blue Note, featuring Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez on drums and Charles Flores on acoustic bass. This two-CD set captures the quintessential Camilo “sound” live for the first time. Camilo called upon drummer Horacio ‘El Negro’ Hernandez to bring his rich Cuban roots and spirit, which he expresses unlike any other drummer. The 1997 Grammy Award winner performed and recorded with legends such as McCoy Tyner, Carlos Santana, and as a member of renowned Latin ensembles like Tito Puente’s Tropi-Jazz All Stars, El Negro has earned a renowned reputation as one of the most powerful and versatile players in the current musical scene.

Bassist Charles Flores played and inspired the best, while continuing to challenge himself and his peers in new artistic directions. A graduate of Cuba’s prestigious Escuela Nacional de Arte, Flores has performed and recorded with Juan Pablo Torres, Steve Turre, Jane Bunnett and the BBC Orchestra in London masters. While in Cuba, Charles was recruited by one of the most important figures in the history of Cuban jazz, pianist Emiliano Salvador. In addition, Flores was also the bassist for the groundbreaking Cuban fusion group AfroCuba and for Salsa sensation Isaac Delgado.


French Toast (Electric Bird, 1984)
Why Not? (Electric Bird, 1985)
Suntan/In Trio (Electric Bird, 1986)
Michel Camilo (CBS Portrait, 1988)
On Fire (Portrait, 1989)
On the Other Hand (Epic, 1990)
Amo Tu Cama Rica (1991?)
Rendezvous (Columbia, 1993)
One More Once (Columbia, 1994)
Two Much (1996)
Thru My Eyes (Columbia, 1997)
Spain (Verve, 1999)
Piano Concerto, Suite & Caribe (Decca, 2001)
Triangulo (Telarc, 2002)
Live at the Blue Note (Telarc, 2003)
Solo (Telarc, 2004)
Rhapsody in Blue (Telarc, 2006)
Spain Again (Emarcy, 2006)
Spirit of the Moment (Telarc, 2006)
Mano a Mano (Emarcy, 2011)
What’s Up? (Okeh, 2013)
Live in London (Redondo Music, 2015)
Spain Forever (Universal, 2016)


Ensemble Novo Lured by Brazil

Ensemble Novo – Who Saw You Then, Who Sees You Now

Ensemble Novo – Who Saw You Then, Who Sees You Now (Frosty Cordial Music, 2017)

Who Saw You Then, Who Sees You Now is a 7-track by Ensemble Novo, an American ensemble led by saxophonist and flute player Tom Moon.

The album highlights Moon’s smoky saxophone and the intersections between jazz and Brazilian bossa nova and samba. Who Saw You Then, Who Sees You Now features remarkable interplay between the saxophone, vibraphone, bass and guitar.

Buy Who Saw You Then, Who Sees You Now


Artist Profiles: Ramon Valle

Ramón Valle

Ramón Valle (born 1964) was only seven years old when he began studying the piano at the Escuela Provincial de Arte in his home town of Holguin, Cuba. He graduated from Havana’s Escuela Nacional de Arte in 1984. His exceptional talent was discovered in 1985 when he performed in a double concert with fellow Cuban pianist, Emiliano Salvador, who died prematurely seven years later. As a solo artist and as leader of the jazz quartet Brujula, Valle appeared at numerous festivals (Mexico DF, Bogota, Havana Jazz Festival) and was soon an established name in the Cuban and Latin American jazz scene. In 1991 Silvio Rodriguez, founder of the Nueva Trova, asked him to join his band Di kara, which he stayed with until 1993.

The greatest talent among our young pianists.” Chucho Valdés, prominent musician and founder of Irakere, used these words to introduce Ramón Valle on his debut album Levitando (1993). On this first CD, Valle revealed himself as a pianist with a sound of his own. Although the influence of classical music and jazz, especially of the triumvirate Jarrett-Corea-Hancock can be heard, the remarkable thing about Valle’s music is his ability to weld these diverse influences to create a unique style that eludes traditional categories. Rather than being a pianist who plays Latin Jazz or Cuban Jazz, Valle is a Cuban jazz pianist. He produces pure, contemporary jazz. Although clearly present, his Cuban roots never form the basis of his pieces. In his own words, “I am a Cuban musician who falls within the category called ‘jazz’, but my music borders on many other musical forms. Sometimes I feel like a troubadour, because I tell stories, stories without words.”

When he first performed in Europe – invited by Barcelona’s Jamboree Jazz Club – critics were surprised by Valle’s virtuosity and technical perfection. After this European debut, Ramón Valle went on to great success at other European and Latin American venues. That same year saw the release of Piano Solo, his second CD. Comprised once again of his own compositions, it was characterized by great originality and powerful lyricism, but especially by Valle’s ability to evoke diverse atmospheres within a single composition. In 1998 Ramón Valle settled in Europe.

In 2002 Ramón Valle started to record for the German label ACT. That year saw the release of Danza Negra (ACT 9404-2) dedicated to the compositions of his famous fellow Cuban Ernesto Lecuona.

On his second CD with ACT, No Escape (2003), Ramón Valle not only made a name for himself as a composer of brilliantly unique music, but once again excelled as a Jazz musician beyond categorization. His own approach is, “not one hundred percent Cuban, but one hundred percent me, my trio.” As he himself likes to put it: “No Escape is the result of a conversation with my musicians. Music is talking, raising your voice, voicing your opinion. Every day when I sit down at the piano is another quest for new words, for my own voice.”


Danza Negra (ACT, 2001)
No Escape (ACT, 2004)
Piano Works IV: Memorias (ACT, 2005)
Fabulas (Budapest Music Center, 2008)
Playground (RVS, 2009)
Flashes from Holland (RVS, 2011)
Take Off (In + Out, 2015)


Artist Profiles: Habana Ensemble

Habana Ensemble

On the night of January 14th, 1997, ten young and very talented musicians gathered at El Teatro Mella in La Habana, Cuba, to start the first rehearsal of what soon became a new band called Habana Ensemble.

The band was formed by five former musicians from Irakere and another five musicians from national bands Afrocuba, Rumbavana, Bamboleo and Son 14, with César López as General Manager and Alfredo Thompson as Musical Director.

Habana Ensemble performed Latin Jazz, Cuban folk, and popular Cuban dancing music.

On the album Todo Incluido (Everything Included), Habana Ensemble define presented a musical project with less brass, and like the title indicates, an exquisite mixture of different rhythms including Cha-Cha-Cha and Timba together with the traditional influences of Latin Jazz and Rock.


Mambo Mania: A Tribute Perez Prado (Líderes, 2001)
Todo Incluido (Universal Music Latino, 2005)


Artist Profiles: Gonzalo Rubalcaba

Gonzalo Rubalcaba

Gonzalo Julio González Fonseca, known artistically as Gonzalo Rubalcaba, was born in Havana, Cuba, May 27, 1963, to a musical family that included his father, pianist Guillermo (who led Charanga Rubalcaba) and his grandfather, danzón composer Jacobo.

Gonzalo started piano lessons at the age of eight and earned a degree in music composition at the Institute of Fine Arts in Havana.

With Orquesta Aragón he toured France and Africa in 1980. He introduced his own Grupo Proyecto to the North Sea and Berlin Festivals in l985. In July 1990 he appeared as a surprise guest with Charlie Haden and Paul Motian at Montreux Festival, Switzerland, in a historic performance (available as the CD Discovery).

Egrem Studios of Havana was the first to record his music during the early and mid 1980s, Inicio, an album of piano solos, and Concierto Negro.

Beginning in 1986, Gonzalo began recording for Messidor of Frankfurt, Germany, and put out three albums for that label with his Cuban Quartet, Mi Gran Pasion, Live in Havana, and Giraldilla.

Charlie Haden met Rubalcaba in Cuba while both were performing as part of the Havana Jazz Festival in 1986. Haden later invited Rubalcaba to participate in what is now know as the Montreal Tapes with Haden on bass and Paul Motian on drums.

Blue Note CEO Bruce Lundvall signed him in 1990 and subsequently released The Blessing, Discovery: Live at Montreux, Images: Live from Mt. Fuji, Suite 4 y 20, Rapsodia, Diz, The Gonzalo Rubalcaba Trio, and Imagine: Live in the USA, which featured his Cuban compatriots, drummer Julio Barreto, bassist Felipe Cabrera and trumpeter Reynaldo Melian.

For Gonzalo Rubalcaba, the ability to easily interweave musical idioms is a by-product of the long presence of American jazz on Cuban soil. “The connection between Cuban music and jazz has been the regular material for a while,” he says. “It’s something they’ve handled for a while including those Cuban musicians who perhaps don’t specialize in jazz. I think that Cuban musicians have a natural ability to be versatile and subscribe themselves to different styles and reach high levels of technicality and mastery.”

A resident of South Florida with his wife and three kids since 1996, Rubalcaba has had unfettered access to the cream of the crop of U.S. talent and the overall jazz scene since his triumphant 1993 Lincoln Center performance.

In 1998 he released two CDs on Blue Note: Flying Colors, a free-wheeling duet with saxophonist Joe Lovano, and Antiguo, a folkloric and futuristic fusion of Cuban and improvisational music.

Inner Voyage, the 9th release on the Blue Note label from Gonzalo Rubalcaba features drummer Ignacio Berroa, bassist Jeff Chambers, and special guest, the ubiquitous tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker; and completes an incredible artistic hat trick.

Inner Voyage represents the next step in his ongoing quest to become a more “integrated musician” with his all-encompassing synthesis of Latin, Afro-Cuban and African-American musical styles.

In the tradition of Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk, Gonzalo Rubalcaba composed most of the music on Inner Voyage to evoke the personalities of several important people in his life. “I’ve tried to give the impression that it’s a very intimate type of work,” Rubalcaba says of the CD, “precisely because it’s closely related to human beings that have had, and still do, special significance to me.

The roots of this group go back to the 1995 Heineken Jazz Festival in Puerto Rico, where Rubalcaba first connected with the great Cuban drummer Ignacio Berroa – who played with everyone from Dizzy Gillespie and Freddie Hubbard to McCoy Tyner. Berroa replaced Rubalcaba’s original drummer who couldn’t make the gig due to visa problems. “Ignacio is a very strong musician,” Rubalcaba says, “because as everybody knows in the business, he’s the only drummer capable of switching back from swing to Afro-Cuban, from samba to bossa nova, or any other rhythm flawlessly.”

In 2002 Gonzalo won both a Latin Grammy for Jazz Album of the Year, Supernova, as well as a Grammy for co-production with Charlie Haden of Nocturne, a Verve release of Cuban and Mexican boleros and ballads.

Three years after Supernova, dazzled the jazz world with its blend of technical virtuosity and contemplative interpretations of traditional Cuban themes and imaginative originals, Rubalcaba released Paseo. “Yes, it’s been a very long time since Supernova,” he explained. “I used to do an album or two a year, but that pace doesn’t give you the opportunity to think; you have to produce. However, I want the opportunity to think as well. After I create an album, I need to play the repertoire with other musicians.”

The benefit of taking his time, Rubalcaba, states, is that the music is more focused, more relaxed, and more musical. “Sometimes, I hear recordings that sound rushed, like the musicians were under a lot of pressure. It sounds like that moment was never finished. Maybe two and a half years is too long, but two albums a year is too much.”

Paseo reprises the quartet format the pianist has used to great advantage on such recordings as Rapsodia and Antiguo, but one he hasn?t used much in recent years. Paseo presents what he calls his New Cuban Quartet and reinterprets some self-penned works that originally debuted on earlier recordings.

I had that need to begin a new period with the Cuban quartet. I felt nostalgic for what I did with my quartet in past years, but it’s not only about emotion, it’s also about professionalism. I had a feeling that some of the pieces I did in the past still sound very contemporary in connection with what we’re doing right now. I think it’s a good idea to visit again the concepts that I did with my earlier Cuban quartets. About half of the record is what I did earlier in my career, but the result, I believe, is totally new.

The fresh approach to such previously recorded works as Santo Canto, from Rapsodia (1992), and Intermitencia, a track featured on Antiguo (1998), reborn as Meanwhile, can be traced to the sum total of Rubalcaba’s experience, maturity and the involvement of new talent. “I’m older, and I have a different point of view ? I?m approaching the music with more experience. And I put the music in the hands of new musicians. We didn’t intend to do a copy of what I?d done in the past with the other Cuban quartet. We were totally free to do a new version of the music, with everyone adding what each believed would make the music richer.”

The album’s first and last tracks, El Guerrillero and Los Bueyes, are traditional Cuban songs that link the session’s free-leaning original repertoire to the elemental Cuban styles that have played such an important role in Rubalcaba’s maturation as a musician and as a man. “In one way or the other, during my life, I’ve tried to do music that’s connected to the soul, particularly to Afro-Cuban music. Not only as a musician but as a religious man, I have a deep connection with the meaning of that music.”

As with his previous Blue Note recordings such as Antiguo, Supernova, and Paseo, Solo explores this inner dialog through compositions consisting almost exclusively of themes from the Afro-Cuban culture. They include lullabies and African-rooted chants which hold a very distinguished place in the history of Cuban music. Solo won the 2006 Latin Grammy for Best Latin Jazz Album.


Concierto Negro (1987)
Mi Gran Pasion (1987)
Live in Havana (Pimienta Records, 1989)
Giraldilla (Pimienta Records, 1990)
Discovery: Live at Montreux (Blue Note, 1990)
The Blessing (Blue Note, 1991)
Images: Live at Mt. Fuji (Blue Note, 1991)
Suite 4 y 20 (Blue Note, 1992)
Rapsodia (Blue Note, 1992)
Imagine (Blue Note, 1993)
Diz (Blue Note, 1993)
Concierto Negro (Egrem, 1995)
Concatenacion (Egrem, 1995)
Flying Colors (Blue Note, 1997)
Antiguo (Blue Note, 1998)
Inner Voyage (Blue Note, 1999)
Supernova (Blue Note, 2001)
Inicio (Egrem, 2001)
Nocturne (2001)
Straight Ahead (Yemaya, 2003)
Paseo (Blue Note, 2004)
Land of the Sun (2004)
Solo (Blue Note, 2006)
Avatar (Angel Records, 2008)
Fé (5Passion, 2010)
XXI Century (5Passion, 2011)
Volcan (5Passion 2013)
Live Faith (5Passion, 2014)
Suite Caminos (5Passion, 2015)
Tokyo Adagio (Impulse!, 2015)
Charlie (5Passion, 2015)


Artist Profiles: Irakere


Founded in 1973 by pianist Chucho Valdés, Irakere is a legendary Afro-Cuban jazz ensemble, which remains on the cutting edge of Latin jazz.

Many of the founders came from the Orquesta Cubana de Música Moderna. The line up at the time consisted of Chucho Valdés on piano, Oscar Valdés on percussion, Carlos del Puerto on bass, guitarist Carlos Emilio Morales, saxophonists Paquito D’Rivera and Carlos Averhoff; Jorge Varona on the trumpet, drummer Bernardo Garcia and Alfonso Campos on congas.

The following year, Arturo Sandoval joined the band and Enrique Pla became the drummer. Throughout the years other Cuban music luminaries joined the band, including José Luis Cortés, Germán Velazco, César López, Orlando Maraca Valle and Miguel ‘Angá’ Diaz.


Teatro Amadeo Roldán – Recital (Areíto, 1974)
Grupo Irakere (Areíto, 1976)
Musica cubana contemporanea (Areíto, 1978)
Leo Brouwer / Irakere (Areíto, 1978)
Grupo Irakere (Areíto, 1979)
Irakere (Areíto, 1979)
Chekere-son (Areíto, 1979)
The Best of Irakere (Columbia/Legacy, 1979)
Irakere II (Areito, 1980)
El Coco (1980)
Live in Sweden (1981)
Para bailar son (1981)
Volume VI (Areíto, 1982)
Calzada Del Cerro (Areíto, 1983)
Orquesta sinfónica nacional; La colección v. VIII (Areíto, 1983)
Bailando así La colección Volume IX (Areíto, 1985)
Tierra En Trance; La colección v. X (Areíto, 1985)
Quince minutos; La colección v. XI (Areíto, 1985)
Catalina (1986)
Live at Ronnie Scott’s – The Legendary Irakere in London (1987)
Misa Negra (Messidor, 1987)
Homenaje a Beny Moré (1989)
Great Moments (1991)
Felicidad (1991)
Bailando Así (1995)
!Afrocubanismo Live! Chucho Valdés and Irakere (Bembe, 1996)
Babalú Ayé (Bembe, 1997)
From Havana With Love (West Wind, 1998)
Indestructible (1999)
Yemayá (Blue Note, 1999)
Pare Cochero (2001)


Artist Profiles: Ignacio Berroa

Ignacio Berroa

Ignacio Berroa Since 1980, drummer Ignacio Berroa has boasted an impressive resume of sideman recording and performance duties with such maestros of the jazz world as Dizzy Gillespie, McCoy Tyner, Chick Corea, Freddie Hubbard, Jackie McLean and Charlie Haden.

Berroa was born in Havana Cuba on July 8, 1953. Following his father’s footsteps he began his musical education as a classical violinist, but his life changed the day he heard albums by Nat King Cole and Glenn Miller. It was then that he realized he wanted to play that music and pursued that dream with a passion, taking his first drum lesson at age 11.

He studied at the National School of Arts and subsequently at Havana’s National Conservatory, beginning his professional career in 1970. After only a year in New York, Dizzy Gillespie officially invited Ignacio to join his quartet. Later he would also become an integral part of the bands Gillespie assembled during that decade, such as ?The Dizzy Gillespie?s 70th Anniversary Big Band?, ?Dizzy Gillespie All Star Big Band? and the Grammy Award winner United Nations Orchestra.

As an educator he first made his mark by becoming an Adjunct Faculty Instructor at Florida International University from 1991 to 1994. Later in 1995, he released his video Mastering The Art of Afro-Cuban Drumming under Warner Bros Publications, deemed by Downbeat magazine as the best instructional videos of the year.

His books, Groovin’ in Clave and A New Way of Groovin, distributed by Carl Fischer are great tools to learn independence, Afro-Cuban grooves as well as mixing the Rumba clave with other styles like rock, funk and Brazilian.

Berroa has also conducted clinics and master classes all over the world and has recorded and played with a variety of musicians such as Tito Puente, Danilo Perez, Ivan Lins and others.

His CD Codes (Blue Note, 2006) is a distinctive jazz-meets-Latin project that weaves the intrinsically stylistic codes of both genres of music. Codes was Berroa’s first project recorded as a leader.


Codes (Blue Note, 2006)
Heritage and Passion (2014)
Straight ahead from Havana (2017)