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Roland Vazquez

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Drummer/composer Roland Vazquez was born in 1951, and upon witnessing a performance by Latin jazz conga legend Mongo Santamaria in 1963, he was inspired to follow a similar stylistic path. He played the drum kit in various R&B or rock bands around Los Angeles, then studied at Westminster College in Utah, receiving a B.A. He was back in L.A. shortly thereafter, forming his fusion combos the L.A. Jazz Ensemble, aka the Urban Ensemble, recording music that straddled the fence between commercial dance and descarga. Between 1978-1981, he was a prominent sideman with pianist Clare Fischer's Salsa Picante ensemble, with the group's 2+2 recording winning a Grammy. Signed to the GRP label, Vazquez continued on the path of fusing Latin, soul, funk, and bop elements, and moved to New York City where he performed at Seventh Avenue South, Mikell's, and the Bottom Line. He taught at the Manhattan School of Music for the next decade, at the University of Michigan from 2000-2004, and lived in Rome for the following two years before heading back to Red Hook, NY. The playing and writing style of Vazquez is closely linked to Afro-Cuban and Puerto Rican folkloric traditions while retaining a boogaloo-flavored backbeat related to '70s R&B, while holding a melodic or harmonic complexity that mirrors the vibrant post-bop sounds of the '60s. ~ Michael G. Nastos

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Years Active:

'70s, '80s, '90s