Ignacio Berroa - Faculty

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Ignacio Berroa

Website: WebsitePortfolio: Afro-Cuban Jazz & BeyonePortfolio: Mambo Inn



Ignacio Berroa has been recognized as one of the greatest drummers of our time. A leading innovator in the blending of Afro-Cuban and American jazz styles, his artful drumming has supported a wide spectrum of the very top names in jazz, including Dizzy Gillespie, McCoy Tyner, Chick Corea, Wynton Marsalis, Freddie Hubbard, Charlie Haden, and Gonzalo Rubalcaba. Ignacio has led his own Grammy-nominated group for over 20 years, and has performed at nearly all the major jazz festivals, concert halls, and clubs internationally. He has consistently been on the cutting edge of the jazz and Latin jazz scene for nearly 40 years, and has been an integral influence on its shape and development.

His incredible artistry on the drums has garnered critical praise across the world, with the L. A. Times writing, “Ignacio Berroa may be the strongest and most versatile drummer Gillespie has hired in years.” Modern Drummer wrote, “Like a Cuban Roy Haynes, Ignacio’s drumming sizzles, sparks, and pops, easily flowing from Rumba to Swing.”He was included on the 2011 Blue Note Records Compilation CD, “Jazz Drumming Legends,” which features some of the most renowned drummers in jazz history. Jazz icon Dizzy Gillespie defined Ignacio as, “… the only Latin drummer in the world, in the history of American music, that intimately knows both worlds: his native Afro–Cuban music as well as Jazz…”

 Born in Havana, Cuba, on July 8, 1953, Berroa began his musical education at age eleven, at the National School of Arts and subsequently at Havana’s famed National Conservatory. He began his professional career in 1972, and, by 1975, had become Cuba’s most sought after drummer. Yearning to go to the center of his musical passion — American jazz music — he left his country in 1980 during the Mariel boatlift and settled in New York City. The move proved instrumental in fostering his career, as he soon met the legendary Cuban musician Mario Bauza, who introduced him to jazz titan Dizzy Gillespie. In1981— no more than a year after his relocation — the great Gillespie invited Ignacio to join his quartet, creating a musical association that would last until Gillespie’s death in 1993. Ignacio took part in all the important bands Gillespie assembled during that decade, including The Dizzy Gillespie 70th Anniversary Big Band, The Dizzy Gillespie All Stars Big Band and the Grammy Award-winning United Nations Orchestra. 

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