Roland Vazquez
Biography Calendar Recordings Classes Scores The Visitor

"My students and I most sincerely appreciated the extensive knowledge and the variety of presentation formats that Professor Vazquez utilized while sharing his musical passions with us. He helped us refine the subtle aspects of rhythm and musical feel of the distinctive styles of Latin music though his clinics, master-classes and concert presentations ...
I offer my highest recommendation of Professor Vazquez ..."

    Dr. Michael W. Udow, Professor Emeritus
    Director of Percussion (1982 - 2011)
    School of Music, University of Michigan

" ... the session was amazing - jam-packed with invaluable information, clear, concise and informative, yet relaxed and engaging. I particularly appreciate the chronological listening examples of Afro-Cuban music, and your annotations for each piece. It was the perfect way to introduce the subject to the students .."
    Ben Toth, Professor of Percussion
    Chair, Winds, Brass and Percussion Dept.
    Hartt School, University of Hartford

"He gave presentations about his music, delivered lectures about Afro-Latin music history and percussion, and performed with student ensembles and professional groups. His visits to Ohio University were unforgettable events and they remain among the strongest artistic and educational experiences that any guest artist has presented to our campus and community ...."
    Roger Braun, Professor of Music,
    Director of Percussion
    School of Music, Ohio University


After working as a band leader ("Urban Ensemble") and as a sideman during the mid & late '70's, Roland began teaching at Manhattan School of Music in '87. During his 10+ years as Jazz Faculty at MSM (also his MM alma mater), he taught mainly combos (focusing on student writing & arranging) - eventually starting the first MSM Latin Jazz Big Band in '98. In 2000, he and his wife (composer/ performer Susan Botti) took positions at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor; where he developed a Jazz Composition sequence at the School of Music; taught combos; co-taught the Creative Arts Orchestra (an "improvisers" group); & established U of M's first Latin Jazz Ensemble. In '05-'06, he presented a course, "Intro to Afro Latin Music", at U of Michigan's Ethnic Studies/ American Culture wing, a 14 lecture course for "non-music majors" - organized around the evolution of musical forms within ethnic historical contexts.

"One of my main educational objectives is the widening of our musical horizon. Asking the student to critically consider alternative forms, cultures, and styles - as a means to expand their individual artistic palette. With the support of the internet, we find ourselves and the music in one large community - like a big farmer's market - within which there should be no lack of inspiration or vocabulary. For me, the historical jazz discography remains as a giant encyclopedia - which is constantly calling us to keep searching,
to keep listening..."

"My recent residencies (Eastman, Berklee, UCCM, Ohio U, Montclair State, WPU, etc.) have included concert performances of my works - often with both large and small ensembles. I also enjoy presenting 'tailored' master class/clinics- which can include the following subjects:

  • consideration & method for composing;
  • history & evolution of musics of the Afro Latin diaspora;
  • a lecture/roundtable regarding the 'independent artist';
  • master class with drummer/percussionists on drumset (Afro Latin styles)

And of course, adjudicating student performances. It remains my goal for the students to positively experience the challenges of this music (big band, combo, and/or chamber works) - while being engaged & encouraged by the perspectives presented in my lecture presentations."


  1. "Composition Masterclass": I like to offer a concept driven presentation including specific suggestions regarding process; dialogue and often adjudicating appropriate works from students. Here is a sample of one of my recent clinic handout sheets: (click here to view/download the pdf file)
  2. "Music of the Afro Latin Diaspora": condensed from 2 lectures from my "Intro to Afro Latin Music" course, written for American Culture/Ethnic Studies while I was a Lecturer at University of Michigan. In this presentation, focus can include broad cultural issues - but students often prefer to analyze & discuss the music on my compilation disc(s): (click here to view/download the pdf file)
  3. The Independent Artist: I have been writing, producing, recording & performing as an "independent artist" since 1975. My experiences relative to the advantage & confines of major label contracts, working for major label artists - and as the primary executive of RVCD (est. 1991 / see iTunes, CD Baby) - are presented; and open for questions in this session.
  4. "Evolution of the Afro Latin Drumset": Discussion & demonstration of Afro Latin rhythms- while relating to the evolution of forms per the drumset. Also, I like to work on the principles of our approach to the instrument (inclusive of jazz, rock, and or classical students). Here is a pdf of a recent Ohio U. master class on the development of individual focus, etc.: (click here to view/download the pdf file)
  5. Ensemble Adjudication: When possible, I like to work with students on their own original material. All of my student groups at MSM & U of MI were expected to write for their ensembles.

Of course, I welcome dialogue regarding ways I can best accommodate what I bring towards the benefit and interests of each individual programs.

You can contact me at