When JUNO Nominee Rafael Zaldivar sits down at the piano, he brings a wealth of inspiration to the keys: his compositions display his percussion expertise, his many years of collaborating with top jazz musicians, and his cultural heritage. Born in Camagüey, Cuba, Zaldivar is carrying on a rich family legacy of musicianship. After taking up percussion and piano at a young age, Zaldivar pursued his studies at the Higher Institute of Arts in Havana. By 1998, Zaldivar meets the great Herbie Hancock and Kenny Barron in Havana. Once Zaldivar came to Canada at the age of 22, he completed a B.A. from the Université de Montréal and an M.A. and a D.Mus. both from McGill University. From then on, his musical career flourished, bringing him opportunities to work with such excellent musicians as Barry Harris, Terri Lyne, and Greg Osby. In recent years, Zaldivar has participated in many international jazz festivals, including the Jazz Festival, Rochester (New York); the Jazz Festival of Querétaro (Mexico); the Festival Jazz North Sea (Holland), among others. Zaldivar had the honor of being personally invited to Boston’s Bean Town Jazz Festival by jazz drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and had the chance to share the stage with the renowned artist. He has also played with John Scofield, Bill Stewart, Scot Colley, Roy Hargrove, Nate Smith, Ben Wendel, Ari Hoenig, Dan Weiss, Nir Felder and recorded with Kurt Rosenwinkel, Miguel Zenón, and Ingrid Jensen.In the fall of 2021, Zaldivar was invited by Berklee Music College as a Visiting Artist where he gave two workshops on Afro-Cuban rhythmic Integration in Contemporary Jazz Composition and Improvisation.By May 2022, Zaldivar won the 2nd Award at The Jacksonville Jazz Piano Competition in Florida.Zaldivar’s skills as an art director, pianist, and composer have enabled him to build and solidify his career on the Canadian jazz scene as well as internationally.
2nd place at The Jacksonville Jazz Piano Competition - ADISQ Nominee - JUNO Nominee - Archambault Award - OPUS Winner - Radio Canada Winner (New Artist
of The Year) - 1st place at The Jazz EnRafale Competition - 2nd place at The Jo-Jazz Competition
“The unique aesthetic of pianist Rafael Zaldivar synthesizes jazz with his classical training at Havana’s Instituto Superior de Arte and the musical heritage of his
native Cuba. Noted for his virtuosity and fluid phraseology, Zaldivar’s compositions are characterized by structural and rhythmic complexity, balanced by a strong
sense of harmony and emotional depth.” - The JazzTimes Magazine, New York.
“ Keyboardist Rafael Zaldivar invokes traditional Afro-Cuban spirituality in both his music and his message, but his thematic scope is far-ranging.”
- The JazzTimes Magazine, New York.