Born: March 7, 1970 Primary Instrument: Percussion
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....
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
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