Hailed by NPR as “both a cosmopolitan entertainer and an authentic folklorist,” Cuban percussionist and rumba aficionado Pedrito Martinez finds links between the old and the new.
Born and raised in Havana, Cuba’s largest city, Martinez came of age surrounded by the troves of rumba musicians populating the city’s streets. It was participating in these informal street jam sessions as an aspiring conga drummer where Martinez developed his electrifying and unpredictable playing style, which has won him the admiration from musicians in all fields, from contemporary jazz artists like Wynton Marsalis to classic rock icons like Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, Paul Simon and more.
“The Pedrito Martinez Group is the real thing. They had the club JUMPING! It made me feel like a teenager!” —Quincy Jones
Since moving to New York in 1998, Martinez and his group have released two albums and garnered numerous accolades, including a Grammy Award nomination and NPR’s best Latin Jazz Album of the Year. The group still manages to find time to play three sets a night, three days a week, at the lively Guantanamera Cuban restaurant in Manhattan.
With a versatile sound that combines traditional genres like Afro-Cuban jazz with more contemporary styles of hip-hop and funk, The Pedrito Martinez Group serves up the kind of irresistibly danceable music rarely found outside of a Havana street corner.