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Ignacio Berroa

Grammy Award winner and international drum star 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 latest book "Groovin' In Clave", distributed by Carl Fischer is a great tool 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, Freddie Hubbard, Wynton Marsalis, Jackie Mc Lean, Clark Terry, James Moody, 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.


Album Review

Jorge Garcia: Crossover

Read "Crossover" reviewed by Mark Sullivan

In 2020, Cuban-born guitarist Jorge Garcia splits his time between South Carolina (where he resides) and Florida (where he has an established performing career). He says that the inspiration for this album occurred while he was growing up in Cuba and listening to Classic Rock on Miami radio stations, drawn to the sound of the guitar. The idea of making jazz arrangements of Classic Rock songs came from his later teaching experience, a way of bridging rock tunes with the ...

Album Review

Ignacio Berroa Trio: Straight Ahead From Havana

Read "Straight Ahead From Havana" reviewed by James Nadal

While it appears normal to perform Cuban music in its natural rhythmic state, in a reversal of the rules of engagement, drummer Ignacio Berroa has re-imagined the popular songbook of his homeland, into Straight Ahead From Havana, shaking up established traditional elements to form a new jazz perspective. Joining Berroa in the trio are Martin Bejerano on piano, and Josh Allen on bass. Bejerano hails from Miami, where he is piano jazz director at the University of Miami, Allen attended ...

Live Review

Ignacio Berroa Graces the Douglas Beach House

Read "Ignacio Berroa Graces the Douglas Beach House" reviewed by Bill Leikam

Ignacio BerroaBach Dancing & Dynamite Society, Douglas Beach HouseHalf Moon Bay, CaliforniaJanuary 31, 2010 Sometimes you think you've heard it all, but then something comes along to let you know that there is even more. This was clearly the case on January 31, when Cuban drummer Ignacio Berroa and his quartet, consisting of Los Angeles-based Ben Wendel on sax, Otmaro Ruiz from Venezuela on piano and Mexico-based Rene Camacho on acoustic bass. Dizzy Gillespie ...

Album Review

Ignacio Berroa: Codes

Read "Codes" reviewed by Jeff Dayton-Johnson

For some insight into the codes to which the title of drummer Ignacio Berroa's debut album refers, compare his version of the António Carlos Jobim classic “Inútil Paisagem with the excellent piano trio version by Aaron Goldberg on Worlds (Sunnyside, 2006). Goldberg takes it very slow and successfully taps into the number's rarefied, slightly decadent Brazilian chic. Berroa, in contrast, recasts the tune as a lovely, more buoyant and maudlin bolero.

There is a slight, not heavy-handed concept to Codes, ...

Album Review

Ignacio Berroa: Codes

Read "Codes" reviewed by Jim Santella

Ignacio Berroa spreads contemporary Latin jazz before him everywhere he goes. It's the music of Dizzy Gillespie, the music of Mario Bauza, and the music of Gonzalo Rubalcaba, David Sánchez, Ed Simon, John Patitucci, and the other members of Berroa's band.

Along with a vibrant Latin jazz rhythm and accented melodies, the ensemble adds invigorating solos to its successful recipe. Berroa and his rhythm mates hold down the group's foundation while two superb saxophonists and two creative pianists ...

Album Review

Charlie Haden: Nocturne

Read "Nocturne" reviewed by Jim Santella

What do you hear in darkness? The little things? Sounds that go unnoticed during the day. Crickets, creaking hinges, softly purring machinery, the hum of automobile traffic, and perhaps a distant television or radio. Night creatures are everywhere; but you don't see them. You hear the same things they hear, though; and it helps you to concentrate on your work.

Charlie Haden's ballad album, Nocturne , follows from his love of film noir. Like his Quartet West, this ...

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Performance / Tour

International Drummer, Ignacio Berroa Quartet Sways Our Souls Again with the Best Grooves!

International Drummer, Ignacio Berroa Quartet Sways Our Souls Again with the Best Grooves!

Source: All About Jazz

The nights are getting warmer this week with Berroa's unforgettable Jazz & Afro-Cuban music! LOS ANGELES, CA (March 27, 2008) -- International drummer and composer Ignacio Berroa is making a roundabout with his quartet this week at various cities throughout California. Ignacio Berroa will be at Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz, CA on March 27th, Rosalie & Alva Performance Gallery in San Pedro, CA on March 29th, and at Anthology in San Diego, CA on March 30th. The venues ...

José Valentino



Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson


Self Produced


Straight Ahead From...

Codes Drum Music



Blue Note Records



Verve Music Group



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