Described by The New York Times as “a source of rhythmic delight and inspiration,” GRAMMY-winning percussionist Pedrito Martinez’s dynamic mix of traditional Cuban rumba, Afro-Latin jazz and Spanish flamenco music will leave you spellbound. The Havana, Cuba-born musician began his performance career in his native city as a vocalist and percussionist at the age of 11, taking the stage alongside such Cuban legends as Tata Guines and Munequitos de Matanzas. In 1998, Martinez traveled to Canada as a part of Afro-Cuban jazz saxophonist’s Jane Bunnett’s band, Spirits of Havana. He made the decision to stay in North America to pursue his career, an auspicious choice that was rewarded two years later when he won the inaugural Afro-Latin hand drumming showcase at the renowned annual Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Competition. Since then, this ‘musician’s musician’ has amassed a loyal fan base with his irresistible grooves and unparalleled musical virtuosity.
After making the permanent move to New York City in 1998, Martinez co-founded the highly successful Afro-Cuban band Yerba Buena, which went on to record two acclaimed albums and open for acts including the Dave Mathews Band, Willie Nelson and Ray Charles. In addition to lending his talents to over 100 albums over the course of his career, this percussionist and vocalist extraordinaire has worked with prominent acts including internationally acclaimed rockers Bruce Springsteen, Sting and Paul Simon; 12-time GRAMMY-winning saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera; and nine-time GRAMMY-winning trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, who said of the collaboration “Pedrito is a genius…working with him has been a revelation to me.” His body of collaborative work includes six GRAMMY-nominated records and the GRAMMY-winning Latin jazz album Simpatico (2006), created with Eddie Palmieri and Brian Lynch. In 2013, Pedrito Martinez released the solo album Rumba de la Isla and along with his band, the self-titled GRAMMY-nominated album, Pedrito Martinez Group. The record was also chosen among NPR’s “Favorite Albums of 2013” and The Boston Globe “Critics Top Ten Albums of 2013.” Pedrito Martinez Group’s second album, Habana Dreams (2016) was ranked #1 on NPR’s 2016 “Jazz Critics Top Jazz Albums” list and was named among The Boston Globe’s “Best World Music Albums” for 2016.