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Paoli Mejias

Born: March 7, 1970    Primary Instrument: Percussion

Paoli Mejias

Paoli Mejias - percussion, composer, recording artist, bandleader

Performing for more than 20 years, Grammy nominee Paoli Mejias has already distinguished himself as a young master percussionist and is ranked among the best in both salsa and Latin jazz. Paoli is now at the vanguard of Latin jazz as leader of his own Quintet with three successful CDs as band leader: “JAZZAMBIA”(2008), “Transcend” (2006) and “Mi Tambor” (2004) which received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Latin Jazz Album.

Born March 7, 1970 in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, percussionist Paoli Mejias' rise to Latin jazz fame is a story of sweat and dedication. Completely self taught, Paoli purchased his first set of congas at age twelve, inspired by records of conga great Carlos “Patato” Valdes and Latin jazz innovators Batacumbele and Irakere. Learning by imitating the sounds he heard on the records, Paoli taught himself the language of the congas without the benefit of an instructor. By his mid-to-late teens, he could be found at jam sessions in the streets and on the beaches of San Juan. He earned invitations from bandleaders like Rafú Warner, José Nogueras, Glen Monroig and Charlie Sepúlveda. As he worked his way up the live music food chain in Puerto Rico, Paoli found himself performing alongside the Latin jazz legends who had inspired him in his early years....
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”Latin bandleaders these days are making music that becomes simultaneously more modern and more ancient. “Jazzambia,” by the Puerto Rican percussionist Paoli Mej�-as, is the latest proof. It includes several other like-minded musicians, including the pianist Luis Perdomo and the saxophonist Miguel Zenón, and it's exciting to see where it goes.

There are standard structural elements of Afro-Cuban music here �” tumbaos and montuno sections �” but there are also rhythm strategies that come from various kinds of new jazz that many would say are not Latin at all. (One track, “Diaspora,” culminates brilliantly with Mr.Zenón soloing with more free-jazz gusto than he ever seems to use, over the interlocking patterns of two hand drummers.) The point is that jazz was part Latin from the start, and has become only more so.” NEW YORK TIMES, Ben Ratliff

JAZZAMBIA: ”A historic recording, if only for the depth of the talent involved, featuring some of the best players in the New York scene, including the ever present Hans Glawischnig on bass, Luis Perdomo on piano, Antonio Sanchez and Tony Escapa on drums, Miguel Zenon, Jaleel Shaw, Ricardo Pons and Chris Cheek on saxophones and the leader Mejias on drums; he’s helped on two tunes by Tito De Gracia. And they produce some fierce and intelligent music, as might be expected. It’s searching jazz, flexible, and at this point so much modern jazz has taken on the Spanish tinge that it’s hard to separate this as Latin jazz; it’s just modern, part of the geometry of invention that includes Havana, Puerto Rico, New York and a good part of the rest of the world. Some tunes have tumbaos, like the tag on Jibarology; some don’t. Hard to find a cliché; this is the sound of the modern world. Again, historic. Highly Recommended.” DESCARGA

“Transcending Expectations” DOWNBEAT

“Paoli Mejias transcends the conventions of mainstream jazz, creating a rich tapestry of original, Latin-flavored, improvisational music” JAZZ IMPROV

“This exceptional session [Transcend] is his follow-up effort to his 2005 Latin Grammy nominated release Mi Tambor, and it exceeds all expectations” JAZZIZ

Paoli Mejías 2008 JAZZAMBIA 2006 Transcend 2004 Mi Tambor, Latin Grammy Nominee Marvin Diz 2008 Habla el tambor Bobby Valentín 2007 Evolución Puertosax 2007 Puertosax Yubá Iré 2007 Ésta es mi rumba Guarayson 2007 Te Pasó Po' Encima Tito De Gracia 2007 Atmosphere Daniel Ramírez 2006 Orbits Julio Sanabria 2006 Trova con salsa para el bailador Ricardo Pons 2006 Segundapiel Rique Colón 2006 Sentido Tropical Various Artists 2006 Vol 4 Master of Percussion - Compilation Steve Guasch y su Orquesta Nueva Era 2006 Siguiendo la tradicion Carlos Cascante y su tumbao 2005 Recuerdos Anthony Carrillo 2005 Guapería Rumbero Paoli Mejías Quintet 2005 Live at San Juan Heineken JazzFest Puerto Rican All-Stars 2004 Viva la salsa Various Artists 2004 Dirty Dancing Havana Nights Soundtrack André Avelino 2004 Aliento de vida / Breath of Life Luis Marín 2004 Live at Nuyorican Café Orlando Poleo 2003 Cimarroneando Chick Corea 2003 Live at San Juan Heineken JazzFest Ramón Vázquez 2003 On The Move Charlie Sepúlveda 2003 Feeling Good Again Héctor & Tito 2003 Historia Live Kip Hanrahan 2002 Piñero Orlando Poleo 2002 Lo bueno de la vida Adela Dalto 2002 La Crema Latina Luis Marín 2001 Live at San Juan Heineken JazzFest Nelson González 2001 Pa’ los treseros José Nogueras 2001 Cada loco con su tema Tito Puente & Eddie Palmieri 2000 Masterpiece, Grammy Award Winner Alex Acuña 2000 Acuarela de Tambores, Grammy Nominee Kip Hanrahan 2000 Deep Rumba Dikan 1999 Olvida Corazon Steven Falcon 1999 Conquista Plena Libre 1999 Juntos y libre Humberto Ramírez 1999 Puerto Rico Jazz Jam Eddie Palmieri, Mariano Morales 1998 Live at San Juan Heineken JazzFest Humberto Ramírez 1998 Treasures Kip Hanrahan 1998 Shadow Nights, Vol. 2 John Santos & The Machete 1998 Machetazo! Ten Years on the Edge Eddie Palmieri 1998 Rumbero del piano Kip Hanrahan 1997 One Thousand & One Nights Eddie Palmieri 1996 Vortex Eddie Palmieri 1995 Arete Tito Puente 1995 Live at Heineken JazzFest Puerto Rico Seis Del Solar 1995 Alternate Roots Elliot Feijo 1994 Live at Heineken JazzFest Puerto Rico José Nogueras 1994 Para tu fiesta Elba Ramalho 1993 Devora me

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