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     BROWSE ARTISTS: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
    Papo Va'zquez
    Artist Views: 30808
    City of Birth: Philadelphia
    Current Residence: Bronxville NY
    Played With:
    Instruments: Trombone
    Other Activities: Composer, Arranger
    Website: http://www.papovazquez.com

    Trombonist, composer, arranger Papo Vazquez has continued to write for big band orchestras; when not performing with his small group Pirates Troubadours. Papo, originally from Philadelphia, most recently received a grant from The Painted Bride Art Center, in Philadelphia. He was commissioned to write music for a 19 piece Afro Puerto Rican Jazz Orchestra; performed and recorded live at The Painted Bride in Philadelphia, on March 2007. His first classical composition was premiered in 2004, at Hostos Performing Arts Center in the Bronx, NY with the Bronx Arts Ensemble; recently known as The Bronx Symphony.

    Vazquez was the first to receive a commission to compose new music for the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra which was a resident band of Jazz at Lincoln Center. Papo's unique writing style can be heard on his latest CD titled “ Pirates Troubadours from The Badlands,” on his Picaro Record Label. Papo has five recordings as a leader "Breakout" Timeless Records, “At The Point Vol. 1 & 2, and “Carnival in San Juan,” Ubiquity Records. His next cd, already mixed and mastered will be with his newly created “Mighty Pirate Orchestra.” Vazquez continues to blend his multi-faceted composition & trombone style with rhythms of Afro-Caribbean origins and jazz.

    Born in 1958, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Papo grew up in the heart of North Philadelphia's Puerto Rican community and spent early years in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico. At the age of 14, while in Philadelphia, his uncle Dagoberto a guitar and cuatro player, recommended him as trombonist for a local salsa band. That is when he met trumpet player Jimmy Purvis, who gave him his first two jazz records J.J. Johnson's "Blue Trombone" and "John Coltrane Live at the Village Vanguard." Jazz became a big part of Papo's life at an early age. At the age of 15, Vazquez began performing at church dances in Philadelphia and shared the stage with New York bands such as, Willie Colon and Eddie Palmieri.

    He auditioned for trumpet player "Chocolate Armentero's" band. Chocolate gave him the job and Papo began working with other New York bands such as Larry Harlow, Conjunto Libre and Hector La Voe. He then became a hot item and was solicited for recordings and performances with other top names in the salsa scene, i.e., The Fania All Stars, Ray Barretto, Willie Colon, Grupo Folklorico Nuyorquino, Eddie Palmieri, etc.

    Vazquez has always been deeply moved by Jazz and specifically cites the music of John Coltrane and J.J. Johnson as having the most influence. In 1979, he began studying with Slide Hampton and recorded and performed for Slide Hampton's World of Trombones. Eventually, Vazquez would tour Europe with the Ray Charles Orchestra and perform in New York with Jazz luminaries Dizzy Gillespie, Frank Foster, Mel Lewis. His involvement with musicians such as Mario Rivera, Hilton Ruiz, Jerry Gonzalez, Milton Cardona and others placed Vazquez as a key player in the burgeoning Latin Jazz genre in the late 70's and a founding member of groups such as the Jerry Gonzalez Fort Apache Band.

    By 1980, Vazquez had traveled the globe. In 1981 he moved to Puerto Rico and became a founding member of Puerto Rico's Batacumbele, a popular Latin fusion band. He performed with Batacumbele from 1981 to 1985. After moving back to New York in 1985, he joined Tito Puente's Jazz Ensemble and traveled as principal trombonist. He also toured Europe with Dizzy Gillespie's United Nations Orchestra.

    Vazquez' ability to fuse Afro-Caribbean rhythms, specifically those from Puerto Rico and Cuba, with freer melodic and harmonic elements of progressive Jazz has insured his popularity on many fronts.

    As a composer, Papo Vazquez showcased his talents on the soundtrack for the movie "Free Enterprise" a Star Trek spoof. Papo has also shared his compositions on recordings for Ruben Blades "Antecedente," Hilton Ruiz "Manhattan Mambo," Dave Valentin's "Tropic Heat," Batacumbele's "En Aquellos Tiempos" among others. He also performed on the soundtrack to Spike Lee's "Mo' Better Blues," "The Mambo Kings," Wayne Shorter's [grammy winner] "Alegria" and Bebo Valdes [grammy winner] "Bebo de Cuba," among others.

    Papo Vazquez Pirates Troubadours "Afro Puerto Rican Jazz Band" is one of the fiercest bands on the planet with twisted variations on traditional themes like Yuba' Jazz, Holande Pirata, Jibaro Waltz, Plena Funk, Mapeye Jazz to help describe his music.



    Artist Comments

    Papo Vazquez Pirates Troubadours From The Badlands Picaro Records - 2007

    Review by Tomas Peña

    Leave it to Papo Vazquez to come up with a title that evokes the image of riding shotgun through the streets of the Wild West! Actually, there is more to the title than meets the eye. According to Papo, “I grew up in ‘the badlands’ of North Philly. My father owned the neighborhood bodega and we were the only Puerto Ricans in the hood during the early 70s.”

    In line with that, Papo never strays far from his roots. The recording opens up with a raw, powerful tune dedicated to the Mighty MFs, a North Philly street gang; Yuba’donbe celebrates the enduring connection between Puerto Rico and Africa via the Congo, The Enemy Within, Si Senor Bob and Bomba En El Monte showcases the band’s ability to fuse variations of Puerto Rican Bomba with jazz; Lina’s Waltz is a jazz/waltz that highlights the group’s softer side, El Macanaso (featuring vocalist Herman Olivera) spins the story of a routine traffic stop that goes awry, Donde Esta Juan is a heartfelt “homenaje” (tribute) to the Puerto Rican trumpet player, “Juancito” Torres (1936-2003). Perhaps the most thought provoking tune is Los Mediocres. Among other things, it addresses such weighty issues as man’s inhumanity to man and the pitfalls of believing that less is more. From the Badlands is oozing with music that will get you riled up, makes you want to dance, rail against the system and rejoice.

    As always, Papo surrounds himself with today’s finest musicians (the usual suspects plus a few invited guests); Sherman Irby (alto sax and flute); Willie Williams (alto and tenor sax); Freddie Mc Farlane, Edsel Gomez (piano); Ricky Rodriguez (bass), Anthony Carrillo, Richie Flores, Juan Gutierrez and Milton Cardona (percussion), Henry Cole, Victor Jones (traps), Nelson Jaime (trumpet, invited guest), Edgar Miranda (cuatro, invited guest), Freddie Mc Farlane (piano, invited guest), vocalist Herman Olivera and a cameo appearance by former Young Lord, Felipe Luciano.

    If that weren’t enough, a reliable source has informed me that Papo’s next recording has been completed and is ready to roll. Without giving too much away, the project will feature the Mighty Pirates, a world-class 19-piece orchestra performing contemporary Puerto Rican music, jazz and (what Papo calls) Sambomba.

    If you are wondering what this pirate “thing” is all about, Papo says it this way: “I have been thinking about it for some time, and it came to me… a Pirate Troubadour is someone who steals your musical allegiance”. Looking back, Papo has come a long way since he left the mean streets of North Philly. As a musician, composer and arranger he has performed and collaborated with everyone who is anyone in the music business: Hector Lavoe, Chico O’ Farrill, Wayne Shorter, Tito Puente; Dizzy Gillespie; Manny Oquendo; Hilton Ruiz; Freddie Cole; Pharoah Sanders; Ray Barretto; Juan Luis Guerra; Shakira and Wyclef Jean, among others.

    In a world where mediocrity reigns supreme, it’s reassuring to know that cultural warriors like Papo Vazquez are fighting the good fight and keeping it real.

    Artist Albums
    From the Badlands
    Artist Tracks
    The Mighty M.F.s
    Yuba'donbe
    Enemy Within
    Lina's Waltz
    El Macanaso
    Donde Esta Juan
    Los Mediocres
    Si Senor Bob
    Bomba en Monte
    Influences