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BIOGRAPHY

Papo Vázquez

 

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

 

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.

Beginnings

 

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

 

Discography

 

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 

Lalo Rodriguez

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

Lalo Rodriguez

Louie Ramirez

and many others.

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