Roland Vazquez
Biography Calendar Recordings Classes Scores The Visitor

photo by Thomas Mikelson


ROLAND VAZQUEZ (composer, drummer, producer, educator):
first worked as a drummer with R&B and rock groups in and around LA. He began writing for his jazz-fusion bands during the mid-70's; receiving an NEA Jazz Performance Grant in '77, which helped establish his music, and led to his production of "Urban Ensemble - the Music of Roland Vazquez" ("funky salsa bebop" / "a decade ahead of its time"/ Billboard '79). During those years, he did multiple studio projects, also performed regularly with his band - and then also other bands in and around California. These included Shirley Walker Trio, Don Randi's Quest, Willie Bobo, and as a core-member of Clare Fischer's legendary "Salsa Picante" ('78-'81), he played on "Salsa Picante 2+2" ("Best Latin Jazz Album" Grammy in 1982).

Moving to NYC in '81, his next recordings, "Feel Your Dream" ('82), "The Tides of Time"('88), "No Separate Love" ('91), and "Further Dance" ('97) featured his music for quintet, tentet, and big band. These recordings were performed by his all-star Jazz ensembles; receiving acclaim from press and strong airplay at national Jazz radio. During the '80s and '90s, he performed regularly at Jazz Festivals, various colleges, and NYC venues (Mikell's, 7th Avenue South, The Bottom Line, and The Village Gate). During the '90s, he began performing his music with "Roland Vazquez Big Band." His compositions shifting more and more towards "Latin rhythmic chamber jazz ..." (Milkowski/Downbeat '97).

Graduating from Manhattan School of Music (MM '85), he was hired to that Jazz Faculty; teaching ensembles there from '88-'99; also introducing the first "MSM Latin Jazz Big Band" ('98). In 2000, he was invited to join the Jazz Faculty at the University of Michigan: initially teaching Jazz Composition classes, then initiating a "Latin Jazz Ensemble," co-directing the school's "Improviser's Ensemble," and then presenting "Music of the Afro Latin Diaspora" at U of M's American Culture/Ethnic Studies wing. In 2003, he received a Michigan Arts Council Grant in support of his Afro Latin chamber suite "Music for Percussion Quartet & 3 Jazz Players." He and his "multiple university ensemble" presented the work in concert at the Detroit Institute of the Arts, several universities and colleges, and also at PASIC that same year.

During '05-'06, Vazquez lived with his family as a Visiting Artist at the American Academy in Rome, Italy; where he composed and performed with various Italian & touring US jazz artists. In 2007, he returned to NY, settling with his family in the Hudson Valley; and then releasing "Quintet Live" (a composite of Canadian Jazz Festival performances).

In recent years, he has been featured as a "Guest Artist" in concert clinic & lecture residencies at Eastman, Berklee, Hart School of Music, UCCM, William Patterson, U. of Wisconsin, Georgetown University, Queens College, Ohio U., etc. In 2010, Vazquez received a grant from the prestigious Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Inc. - supporting his all-star Big Band recording, "The Visitor". "The star of 'The Visitor' is Vazquez' luminous, precise writing " (Sublette/Downbeat '10). In 2014, the Grammy Award-winning Big Band "Afro Bop Alliance" was funded by New Music USA to record three of Vazquez's large works, which were then released on their CD "Revelation".

Until recently on Faculty at Vassar College (where he taught Private Drum Studio and Jazz History), he currently is an Artist in Residence at Bard College where he is teaching "Music of the Black Atlantic," "Afro Caribbean Percussion Ensemble," and Private Studio/Jazz Composition and Arranging. He also performs regularly with his ensembles at clubs, colleges, and Jazz Festivals. He is currently scheduled to present a new survey course at Bard in Fall '21, entitled "Music of the Black Atlantic."

For music & information please visit:

Apple Music/Roland Vazquez

YouTube / Roland Vazquez