The Great Ignacio Berroa
Ignacio Berroa has been recognized by many as one of the greatest drummers of our times. His numerous contributions to the American music scene have earned him a place among a very selective group of artists known to have set new musical trends for the 20th century. Jazz Legend Dizzy Gillespie best 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…”Highly respected among his peers, Ignacio’s musicianship and versatility have enabled him to build a successful career by gaining the recognition of some of the most important artists in the business. Ignacio Berroa was born in Havana Cuba on July 8,1953. Following his father’s footsteps he began his musical education as a classical violinist. But his life changed the day he heard albums by Nat King Cole and Glenn Miller.It was then that he realized he wanted to play that music and pursued that dream with a passion, taking his first drum lesson at age 11. He studied at the National School of Arts and subsequently at Havana’s National Conservatory, beginning his professional career in 1970. By 1975 Ignacio Berroa had become Cuba’s most sought after drummer. After moving to New York in 1980 Ignacio met and had the privilege of working with musicians of the stature of Mario Bauza, among others. It was Mario who introduced him to the late Bebop master Dizzy Gillespie. In August 1981 Dizzy officially invited Ignacio to join his quartet. Later he would also become an integral part of all the important bands Gillespie assembled during that decade,such as “The Dizzy Gillespie’s 70th Anniversary Big Band”, “Dizzy Gillespie All Star Big Band” and the “Grammy Award” winner “United Nations Orchestra”. But Ignacio’s contributions to the arts have not been limited to perform on stage.
As an educator he first made his mark by becoming an Adjunct Faculty Instructor at Florida International University from 1991 to 1994. Later in 1995, he released his video “Mastering The Art of Afro-Cuban Drumming” under Warner Bros Publications , deemed by Downbeat magazine as the best instructional video of the year. His books, “Groovin’ In Clave” and “A New Way of Groovin”, distributed by Carl Fischer are great tools to learn independence, Afro-Cuban grooves as well as mixing the Rumba clave with other styles like Rock, Funk and Brazilian. Ignacio has also conducted clinics and master classes all over the world and has recorded and played with musicians of the stature of McCoy Tyner, Chick Corea, Freddie Hubbard, Wynton Marsalis, Jackie Mc Lean, Clark Terry, James Moody, Slide Hampton,Milt Jackson, Ron Carter, Charlie Haden, Eddie Gomez, Phil Woods, Michael Brecker, Joe Lovano, Jon Faddis, Jack Bruce, Jaco Pastorius, Tito Puente, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Lalo Schifrin, Chico Bouarque, Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, Lenny Andrade, Ivan Lins, Joao Bosco, Slide Hampton’s Jazz Masters Big Band, Carnegie Hall Big Band, Lincoln Center Orchestra,WDR Big Band and BBC Big Band, just to name a few.
What the Pros are saying
“Ignacio is one of the greatest drummers of our time. It is a shame that a lot of American drummers don’t know him. American drummers like to go after names, but sometimes the people you don’t know are the ones you should know. What better teacher can you go to for Jazz and Afro-Cuban rhythms than Ignacio…” – Dennis Chambers
“Ignacio Berroa is an all American – Afro – Cuban drumming maestro, completely fluent and conversant in all styles of music. He is a gift to our music.” – Peter Erskine
“Ignacio plays with intelligence, taste, fire, and soul. His playing combines the finest aspects of Afro-Cuban and American styles of drumming (…) When you hear him play it just makes you feel good, just like a good hot bowl of gumbo!” – Wynton Marsalis