Ignacio Berroa Biography

8 July 1953, Havana, Cuba. Berroa first considered the violin, the instrument played by his father, but was soon playing drums, which he did from the days of his youth. He preferred the orthodox kit to the traditional percussion instruments of his homeland and moved into jazz. Even so, from the outset there were always touches of Cuban fire in his playing. He studied percussion in Havana at the National School of Arts and at the National Conservatory. In the mid-70s he played in local bands but chose to leave the country when the opportunity arose in 1980. For some time thereafter he played in bands in Florida before relocating to New York City. He performed live and on record with musician such as Charlie Haden, McCoy Tyner, Tito Puente and Gonzalo Rubalcaba. He was heard by Mario Bauza, who introduced him to Dizzy Gillespie who was in need of a drummer one night. Berroa remained with Gillespie for several years, playing in small groups and big bands, the latter including Gillespie’s 70th Anniversary Big Band, the All Star Big Band and the United Nations Orchestra. He returned to Florida in 1989.

In addition to performing, Berroa has taught as a faculty member at Florida International University, 1991-94, and is author of instructional books, including Groovin’ In Clave and A New Way Of Groovin’, and the instructional video, Mastering The Art Of Afro-Cuban Drumming. Sidemen in his band for his 2006 own-name debut Codes included Rubalcaba and David Sanchez. Among other musicians with whom he has worked are Michael Brecker, Ron Carter, Jon Faddis, Slide Hampton, Freddie Hubbard, Milt Jackson, Joe Lovano, Jackie McLean, Wynton Marsalis, James Moody, Dafnis Prieto, Clark Terry and Phil Woods, as well as the Carnegie Hall Big Band, the Lincoln Center Orchestra and the WDR Big Band.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.