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Elio Villafranca

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Born in the Pinar del Río province of Western Cuba, Villafranca was classically trained in percussion and composition at the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana, Cuba. Since his arrival in the U.S. in late 1995, he has been involved in jazz and Latin jazz scenes on both the East and West Coasts. Inspired by jazz and other musical genres that developed as a result of the African Diaspora, Villafranca creates original cultural and musical fusions notable for their spirited, groundbreaking innovations and has composed and arranged original soundtracks for PBS documentaries and a variety of independent films. Based in New York City he is resident professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Over the years his Quartet has included as members with Grammy nominated Blue Note recording artists guitarist Pat Martino and the Canadian saxophonist Jane Bunnett and trumpeter Terell Stafford, among other notable instrumentalists, and has performed in New York City at the Blue Note, Jazz Standard, Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola and other venues.

As a sideman Villafranca has collaborated sideman with leading jazz and Latin jazz artists including: Wynton Marsalis; Jon Faddis; Sonny Fortune; Dave Valentin; Lenny White; Horacio “El Negro” Hernández; Ralph Peterson; Giovanni Hidalgo; Eddie Henderson; Miguel Zenón; Cándido Camero; and Johnny Pacheco, among others. Villafranca toured Europe with Bunnett (in The Spirits of Havana) and Martino (in the Pat Martino Quintet) and performed with each at various world-renowned venues and events including the Blue Note Jazz Festival in Ghent

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