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Richie Zellon

Richie Zellon (guitarist, composer, arranger and educator) was born in Lima, Peru of American and Brazilian parents. Since the early 1980's he has been a pioneer of what is often referred to as the "sudaca" or South American jazz movement.

AS ARTIST, in Peru he recorded his first album, "Landologia" in 1982 for the Fonovox label. The recording featured Zellon's unique compositions merging the percussive music of Peru's black population with jazz for the first time resulting in what has become known as Afro-Peruvian Jazz. Legendary American jazz musician, Jimmy Heath who met Zellon during one of his performances in Peru and was intrigued by his unique style, wrote the liner notes. Upon moving to Central Florida in the late 80’s he worked for 3 years as guitarist with the late Jesse Stone (co-founder of Atlantic Records and producer for Ray Charles & many jazz and R&B stars).

Between 1995 and 2000 he produced over 20 internationally critically acclaimed CDs for Songosaurus, an independent record label that introduced new Latin Jazz artists from different countries. During this period he had the opportunity to produce, record and perform with some of the most influential musicians both in the mainstream and latin jazz genres. Among them Paquito D’ Rivera, Alex Acuna, David Leibman, Jerry Bergonzi, Danilo Perez, Abraham Laboriel,Dave Samuels, George Garzone, Sam Rivers and Ignacio Berroa to name a few. Due to his innovations in the field of jazz and latin music he has been profiled in several books on the history of Latin Jazz such as “Caliente: Una Historia del Jazz Latino” by Luc Delanoy and “El Diccionario de Latin Jazz” by Nat Chediak and “The Jazz Guitar: Its Evolution, Players and Personalities Since 1900” by Maurice J. Summerfield.

AS WRITER & ETHNOMUSICOLOGIST, he wrote a column on South American jazz for Jazz Improv magazine (currently Jazz Inside)from 1999 to 2008. His ongoing research on the music of various Latin American cultures and their fusion with contemporary music has been a sought after topic by musicians at clinics and workshops.

In addition to being a graduate of Berklee College of Music, Zellon's education includes private studies with Charles Banacos, Red Rodney, Pat Martino and Edgar Valcarcel (Peru).


“With musicians like Richie Zellon, the future of Latin Jazz is in good hands.” – Luc Dellanoy (from the book, Caliente: A History of Latin Jazz)

“a phenomenal guitarist who is possessed with a magical tone... whose ideas are based on a mystical musical map that doffs its proverbial hat to Jimi Hendrix as much as it does to Miles Davis.” - The Latin Jazz Network

“If there is one contemporary musician who truly personifies the successful synthesis of the myriad pan-American genres into unconventional and compelling new forms, it is undoubtedly Lima, Peru-born guitarist, composer, and all around music alchemist Richie Zellon”- Americas

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Primary Instrument


Willing to teach

Intermediate to advanced


Have held teaching positions as professor of jazz guitar at Florida International University (Miami) the University of South Florida (Tampa) The Music Workshop (Orlando) and Miami Jazz Guitar. References Available! Please call 786-553-3351 for available hours and rates or visit http://www.miamijazzguitar.com

Clinic/Workshop Information

Clinics on jazz and Latin American music include various music schools throughout the years such as the New England Conservatory, Berklee College of Music, Jacksonville University, the University of South Florida, Universidad Catolica (Lima,Peru)and more

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