Trombonist, composer and arranger Papo Vázquez is 40 year anniversary into a career spanning jazz, Latin, Afro-Caribbean and classical music and recordings.
Musical Director for the National Puerto Rican Day Parade Orchestra, (NYC) 2016,2017,2018, 2019
March is Music 2018, @Pregones Theater, J.S. Bachs Goldberg Variations for Jazz Quartet.
Kennedy Center Iberian Suite, Mighty Pirates Troubadours March 2015
Invited to lead and direct “The Presidents Own” US Marine Band Afro Caribbean Jazz performance, in Washington, DC. 2013
In May 2013, was commissioned by Arturo O’Farrill’s Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra and Symphony Space to compose new music for “Nueva Musica” concert series, in New York.
In 2011, was presented with a Latino Masters Award by the Pregones Theater under The National Endowment for the Arts American Masterpieces: Presenting program.
In 2010, was commissioned by Mr. Wynton Marsalis to compose a work inspired by Cuban painter Wilfredo Lam, he conducted and performed with Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Orchestra on The Jazz and Art concert.
In 2008, won a Grammy nomination for Best Latin Jazz Album for Papo Vázquez’ Mighty Pirates 2008 recording Marooned/Aíslado.
In 2007, was commisioned by The Bronx River Arts Center to compose a new piece titled River Rising for their 20th anniversary.
Vázquez born Angel R. Vazquez, 1958 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After spending his early years in Puerto Rico, he grew up in the heart of North Philadelphia's Puerto Rican community.
At the age of 15, Vázquez was performing with local Latin bands in Philadelphia. At only 17, he moved to New York and was hired to play for trumpet player Chocolate Armentero's. Soon after, began playing and recording with top artists in the salsa scene like The Fania All-Stars, Ray Barretto, Willie Colón, Larry Harlow, and Hector La Voe. Vázquez became a key player in New York’s burgeoning Latin jazz scene of the late 1970's, He began studying with Slide Hampton, eventually recording and performing for Slide Hampton's World of Trombones.
Vázquez went on to perform with jazz luminaries Tito Puente, Dizzy Gillespie, Frank Foster, Mel Lewis, Hilton Ruiz and to tour Europe with the Ray Charles Orchestra. By the age of 22, Vázquez had traveled the globe.
He was a founding member of Jerry Gonzalez' Fort Apache and Conjunto Libre as well as Puerto Rico’s popular Latin fusion band Batacumbele. Performed and recorded several albums with Batacumbele, from 1981 to 1985. Upon his return to New York, he joined Tito Puente's Latin Jazz Ensemble, traveling with them as principal trombonist, and toured Europe with Dizzy Gillespie's United Nations Orchestra.
Leader, Composer, Innovator
Vázquez has always been deeply moved by jazz, and specifically cites the music of John Coltrane and J.J. Johnson as having most influenced him. His appreciation and knowledge of the indigenous music of the Caribbean provides him with a unique ability to fuse Afro-Caribbean rhythms, specifically those from Puerto Rico, with freer melodic and harmonic elements of progressive jazz.
During his time in Puerto Rico with Batacumbele during the 1980s, he began to experiment with “bomba jazz,” a mixture of jazz and traditional Puerto Rican bomba. In 1993, he recorded his first album as a leader, Breakout. He continued collaborating with a variety of Latin Jazz artists, contributing Overtime Mambo to Hilton Ruiz’s Manhattan Mambo and Contra Mar y Mareo Descarga Boricua, Vol. 1
Interest in Vázquez as a composer grew. He was the first artist to receive a composer’s commission Iron Jungle for the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, then a resident orchestra at Jazz at Lincoln Center.
The same year, through a grant from The Painted Bride Art Center in Philadelphia, Vázquez was asked to expand Pirates Troubadours, and was commissioned to compose new music for a 19-piece, Afro-Puerto Rican Jazz Orchestra. The 2008 event was recorded live, resulting in Papo Vázquez Mighty Pirates Marooned/Aíslado, which received a Grammy nomination for Best Latin Jazz Album. Vázquez has also shared his compositions with Ruben Blades (Tengan Fe/Antecedente), Hilton Ruiz (Manhattan Mambo) and Dave Valentin (Tropic Heat), among others.
His song "Baila Plena" from At The Point, Vol I. is featured on the soundtrack for Free Enterprise. Other movie credits include playing on the soundtracks for The Mambo Kings and Spike Lee’s Mo’ Better Blues.
Grammy nominated for Best Latin Jazz Album recording Marooned/Aíslado (2008).
Commissioned by Mr. Wynton Marsalis to compose a work inspired by Cuban painter Wilfredo Lam, Conducted and performed with Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Orchestra on The Jazz and Art concert (2010).
Presented with a Latino Masters Award by the Pregones Theater under The National Endowment for the Arts American Masterpieces: Presenting program (2011).
Commissioned by Arturo O’Farrill’s Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra and Symphony Space composed new music for “Nueva Musica” concert series, in New York (2013).
Invited to lead and direct “The Presidents Own” US Marine Band and perform Afro Caribbean Latin Jazz, in Washington, DC. (2013).
Selected Honors and Awards
Phialdelphia Clef Club Jazz Award - Best Trombone 2015
Grammy Nominated 2008 – Papo Vazquez Marooned/Aislado, Picaro Records
Grammy: Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Wayne Shorter’s Alegria (Verve Records)
Grammy: Bebo Valdez – Bebo de Cuba
Recognized by Los Pleneros de La 21 for his contributions to Puerto Rican Culture.
New York Times’ list of "Top 10 Undeservedly Obscure Recordings”
Taller de Jazz Don Pedro in Puerto Rico Award
DownBeat Magazine’s list of “Talent Deserving Wider Recognition” 1980.
Best Trombone “Latin New York Magazine” 1980, 1979
Papo Vazquez Quartet - GV J.S. Bach, Picaro Records, 2017
Papo Vazquez Mighty Pirates Troubadours – Spirit Warrior, Picaro Records, 2015
Papo Vazquez Mighty Pirates Troubadours – Oasis, Picaro Records, 2012
Papo Vázquez The Mighty Pirates - Marooned/Aislado, Picaro Records, Grammy Nomination 2008
Papo Vázquez Pirates Troubadours - From The Badlands, Picaro Records, 2007
El Niño Josele - 2011
Tego Calderon - The Underdog/El Subestimado, Jiggiri Records, 2006
Shakira & Wyclef Jean - World Soccer Final Theme (“Bamboo”), 2006
Ray Barretto - Standards Rican-ditioned, Zoho Music,2006
Los Pleneros de la 21 Para Todos Ustedes, Smithsonian Folkways, 2005 - Grammy Nomination,
Bebo Valdez - Bebo de Cuba, Calle 54, 2005 - Grammy, Best Latin Jazz Album
Papo Vázquez Pirates Troubadours - Carnival in San Juan, Cu-Bop Records, 2003
Wayne Shorter - Alegria, Verve, 2003 – Grammy, Best Jazz Instrumental Album
Jack Bruce Shadows - In The Air – Sanctuary Records Group, 2001
Freddie Cole Rio de Janeiro Blues, Telarc
Chico O'Farrill Carambola, Fantasy
Spike Lee’s Mo’ Better Blues movie soundtrack
Papo Vázquez Pirates & Troubadours - At the Point Vol. " Cubop
Papo Vázquez Pirates & Troubadours - At the Point Vol. " Cubop
Milton Cardona Cambucha, American Clave
Arturo O'Farrill Bloodlines, Fantasy
Chucho Valdes All Stars Bronx Lebanon New Directions Project
RMM Jammin' in the Bronx, Papo Vázquez Band, Chucho Valdes & The Machito Orq RMM
Chart Busters with Dr. Lonnie Smith, Lenny White, Hiram Bullock, Craig Handy, Papo Vázquez, et.al.
Chico O'Farrill Pure Emotio, Fantasy
Steve Berrios First World, Fantasy
Descarga Boricua Descarga Boricua, Tierrazo
Dave Valentin Tropic Heat, GRP
Juan Luis Guerra 440 Fogarate,440
Papo Vázquez Breakout, Timeless
Ruben Blades Amor y Control & Antecedente & Caminando, Sony
Hilton Ruiz Mannhatan Mambo, Telarc & Hands on Percusion
RMM Tito Puente Out of this World Tito Puente "100th" RMM
Jerry Gonzalez Fort Apache Band Obatala & Live in Berlin, Enja & "Ya Yo Me Cure" American Clave
New York Latin Jazz All Stars Feliz Navidad
Bobby Valentin Presenta al Cano Estremera, Bronco Records
Batacumbele Con Un Poco de Songo & En Aquellos Tiempos, Tierrazo
Fran Frrer – 2010, Tierrazo
Ray Barretto Ricanstruction, Fania
Slide Hampton World of Trombones, WEST54
Chico O'Farrill Calle 54
Fania All Stars Habana Jam, Fania
Willie Colon – Solo, Fania
Willie Colon & Ruben Blades Siembra, Fania
Willie Colon & Celia Cruz Fania
Hector La Voe De Ti Depende, Fania
Mon Rivera Vuelvo a Vivir, Fania
Larry Harlow – El Judio Maravilloso, Fania
and many others.