Sunbelt Jazz Festival Hosts Berroa

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The University of West Georgia will reach a new milestone on Friday, April 23, at 7:30 p.m. at the 25th annual Sunbelt Jazz Festival starring internationally renowned Cuban drummer Ignacio Berroa.  Headlining the Festival at the Townsend Center, Berroa serves as guest artist and master clinician for jazz bands attending from high schools across North Georgia.

Following in his father's footsteps, Berroa began his musical education as a classical violinist.  But his life changed the day he heard Nat King Cole and Glenn Miller.  It was then he realized his dream to play jazz and began taking drum lessons at age 11.  Berroa studied at the National School of Arts and subsequently at Havana's National Conservatory, beginning his professional career in 1970.  By 1975, Berroa had become Cuba's most sought after drummer.

After moving to New York in 1980, Berroa had the privilege of working with musicians such as Mario Bauza.  It was Bauza who introduced him to the late Bebop master Dizzy Gillespie.  In August 1981, Gillespie invited Berroa to join his quartet.  Later, Berroa became an integral part of all the important bands Gillespie assembled during that decade such as  the "Dizzy Gillespie All Star Big Band" and the Grammy Award winning "United Nations Orchestra."

Gillespie praised Berroa as "the only Latin drummer in the history of American music that intimately knows both worlds, his native Afro-Cuban music as well as jazz." 

Berroa has been recognized by many as one of the greatest drummers of our times.  His numerous contributions to the American music scene have earned him a place among a very selective group of artists known to have set new musical trends for the 20th century.  Not only is Berroa a master of Afro-Cuban and American Jazz drumming, he also performs and teaches rock, funk and Brazilian throughout North America.

Berroa has performed with countless jazz superstars from Chick Corea and Slide Hampton to Jon Faddis and Tito Puente.  His close friend and fellow musician Wynton Marsalis exclaimed, "Ignacio plays with intelligence, taste, fire and soul. When you hear him play it just makes you feel good, just like a hot bowl of gumbo!"

Tickets for the Sunbelt Jazz Festival are $12 for adults, $9 for seniors and military, and $5 for children.  For ticket purchases, call the Townsend Center Box Office at 678-839-4722.   Box Office hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and 10 a.m. until closing on show day.  For more information, visit www.townsendcenter.org.