Pablo Batista Latin Jazz Ensemble

Master percussionist Pablo Batista has performed, recorded and toured internationally for nearly 30 years with some of the biggest stars in rhythm and blues, jazz, Latin, pop, and gospel. These have included artists as diverse as Alicia Keys, Patti Labelle, Kirk Franklin, Jill Scott, Gerald Levert, Jeffrey Osborne, Phyllis Hyman, Teddy Pendergrass, Diane Reeves, Norman Brown, Manny Oquendo and Libre, Eddie Palmieri, and Musiq.

In 1981, Pablo’s student demo of folkloric percussion music recorded at Temple University brought him to the attention of Grover Washington, Jr. At the time, Washington was serving as producer for R & B star Jean Carne and he invited Pablo into the studio as a professional for the first time. That record became a huge hit and Pablo went on to record and tour with Washington periodically from 1985. From 1991 on, he served as his rock-solid percussion “road dog” right up to Grover’s untimely passing in 1999.

A drummer of amazingly diverse talents, Pablo B. is highly regarded for his professionalism, tireless work ethic, and ability to listen and integrate his playing into almost any style at the highest level of musicianship. During the heyday of “the Philly sound,” Pablo was frequently called in to play on Philly International Records studio sessions with some of the label’s most accomplished producers. Hired by legendary R & B producer Nick Martinelli, Pablo performed on Regina Bell’s debut album “All By Myself” which included the smash hit “Show Me the Way.” In the late 1980s, an audition for Jeffrey Osborne won him the percussion chair over a pool of 20 L.A. studio percussionists and he toured with Osborne from 1988-1991.

Raised in close-knit, education-oriented family from Puerto Rico, Pablo Batista grew up in Bethlehem Pennsylvania where he began studying Latin percussion at the age of 9 years. Starting with hand drums under the tutoring of master percussionist Miguel Candia, he went on to absorb popular Afro-Caribbean music styles and developed a special interest in salsa. Following graduation from Bethlehem Catholic High School in 1981, he attended Temple University where he earned a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree in 1985.

In 1985 Pablo became a Latin Percussion/LP endorser and clinician. That same year he began teaching Afro-Caribbean percussion privately and also with youth at Philadelphia’s Latin American Musicians Association (AMLA). During 2000, he began a more serious and protracted study of Afro-Cuban drumming and culture. In 1991, while teaching at AMLA between tours, Pablo received his first grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. This enabled him to do folkloric research in Cuba under sponsorship of the Philadelphia Folklore Project. He went on to receive this award four times and continued travel to Cuba to study under the masters Pello “el Afrokan,” Roberto Vizcaino, Miguel “Anga” Diaz and others. In 2000, Pablo was the recipient of the prestigious Pew Fellowship in Folk Arts. This enabled him to deepen his knowledge of the Afro-Cuban tradition at the source.

Artistically restless and never one to sit still for long, Pablo Batista continues to study, practice, record, tour, and teach. In 2010, after several previous tours and Grammy-winning, multi-platinum recordings with soul mega-star Alicia Keys, he was back on the road with her “Elements of Freedom Tour.” This culminated in a performance at the World Cup ceremonies in South Africa before an estimated combined live and broadcast audience of over one billion people. At mid-year, Pablo appeared as a guest with the Philadelphia Orchestra Percussion Group under the leadership of Don Liuzzi. He also found time for community performances at
local venues like the Robin Hood Dell East and West Philadelphia's Cedar Park Jazz Series. In addition to dates with the Ojays and Patti LaBelle, he taught disadvantaged students
in North Philadelphia and conservatory students at Curtis Institute of Music.

During 2011, Pablo Batista began working on a new, innovative series of compositions and arrangements that seek to integrate African Yoruba elements into the more accessible musical styles with which he is so familiar and so proficient. In 2013, Pablo received a second Pew Charitable Trust Grant to further his study of traditional folkloric music. He was also invited to perform, as a solo percussionist, at the renowned Caribbean Music Festival. While in Cuba for the music festival, he undertook daily studies in Afro-Cuban rhythms with The Ballet Folklórico Cutumba, one of Cuba’s most vibrant folkloric dance companies. Pablo hopes to make the traditional music more widely accessible to new audiences of varied ethnic backgrounds and musical tastes, and to show how deeply the “Latin tinge” continues to inform and animate American popular music.

Mr. Batista’s devotion to the traditional Latin forms is currently on display via his magnificent ensemble, Pablo Batista and the Mambo Syndicate. The band offers the best salsa dura and dance music in the tri-state area. They perform a range of Latin rhythms and styles reminiscent of the Sunday dance concerts at New York's legendary Palladium during the Golden Age of Latin Music. Songs by Celia Cruz, Tito Puente, Johnny Pacheco, Hector Lavoe, and Ray Barretto are featured in the Pablo Batista and the Mambo Syndicate’s repertoire. In addition to Batista's dazzling conga skills, the band consists of an exceptionally talented, dynamic, and well-schooled line-up of supporting players on piano, bass, horns, percussion, and vocals.

Bakithi Kumalo

South African bassist who grew up in Soweto, his big break came in 1985 when Paul Simon was looking for a (fretless) bass player for his "Graceland" album, project and tour.

His first solo album, "San Bonan", was released in 1998.



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