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Papo Vazquez
Trombonist, composer and arranger Papo Vázquez has 40+ years of career spanning Jazz, Latin, Afro Caribbean and Classical music.
• Musical Director for the National Puerto Rican Day Parade Orchestra, (NYC/WABC) 2016, 2017, 2018.
• The Mighty Pirates Troubadours tour Israel, in 2017.
• March is Music concert series, J.S. Bach Goldberg Variations for Jazz Quartet @Pregones
Theater PRTT, Bronx, NY, 2015 & 2018. CD Recording release February 2018.
• March 2016, the 40th Anniversary Concert of Papo Vazquez at Hostos Center for the Performing Arts, Bronx, NY.
• Staff arranger for Mr. Bill Scribner’s Bronx Arts Ensemble Chamber Orchestra from 2000 thru 2016.
• 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.
• Commissioned by Mr. Wynton Marsalis to compose a work inspired by Cuban painter Wilfredo Lam, conducted and performed with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra for The
Jazz and Art concert series, 2010.
• Commissioned by Mr. Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance in Symphony Space to compose new music for “Nueva Musica” concert series, in New York, 2013.
• In 2011, presented with a Latino Masters Award by the Pregones Theater under The National Endowment for the Arts American Masterpieces.
• Grammy nominated for Best Latin Jazz Album for Papo Vázquez’ Mighty Pirates 2008, Marooned/Aíslado, 2008.
Beginnings Vázquez was born in 1958, in Philadelphia, PA. As a young child, his family moved to the countryside of Puerto Rico during his early years. Later on, they moved back to the heart of North Philadelphia's Puerto Rican community. By the age of 17, he headed to New York City and soon began performing and recording with top artists in the salsa scene like The Fania All-Stars, Ray Barretto, Willie Colón, Grupo Folklorico Nuyorquino, Eddie Palmieri, Larry Harlow, and Hector La Voe. Vázquez became a key player in New York’s burgeoning Latin Jazz scene of the late 1970's, performing with Jerry Gonzalez, Hilton Ruiz, among others. He studied with Slide Hampton, eventually recorded and performed for Slide Hampton's World of Trombones.

Vázquez went on to perform with jazz luminaries Tito Puente, Dizzy Gillespie’s United Nations Orchestra, Frank Foster, Mel Lewis, Mario Rivera, Hilton Ruiz and Milton Cardona. He
toured Europe with the Ray Charles Orchestra. By the age of 22, Vázquez had traveled the globe.

Leader, Composer, Innovator
Vázquez was always deeply moved by Jazz, and specifically cites the music of John Coltrane and J.J. Johnson as having most influenced him. In addition, 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 the 1980s, he began to experiment with “Bomba Jazz,” a fusion of Jazz and traditional Puerto Rican folkloric Bomba music. In 1993, he recorded his first album as a leader, Breakout. He currently has eight recordings, and all music is composed and arranged by Vazquez except the latter where arranging is shared by pianist Rick Germanson; a current member of the Mighty Pirates Troubadours.

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. His first classical composition, Palomita – Afro-Caribbean Suite, a Bomba and Plena was commissioned and performed with the Bronx Arts Ensemble Chamber Orchestra and premiered at Hostos Center for the Arts, Bronx, NY 2004. In 2007, was commissioned by the Bronx River Arts Center [BRAC] and wrote Sube el Rio
(River Rising) for his Mighty Pirate Orchestra for their 20th Anniversary “Bronx River Sounds” concert.

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.

The Mighty Pirates Troubadours continues to allow Vázquez the opportunity to blend multi-faceted compositions and trombone style with rhythms of Afro Caribbean origins and Jazz. Vazquez is known for composing variations of traditional themes, and terms like Yuba' Jazz, Holande Pirata, Jibaro Waltz, Plena Funk and Mapeye Jazz are some of the names used to help describe his music.

In 2009, Vázquez premiered a composition "Oasis" with the Bronx Arts Ensemble Chamber Music. This work grew into the expanded Oasis Project a multimedia and multicultural group and premiered at Pregones Theater PRTT, Bronx, NY.