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Artist Profile · William Cepeda

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William Cepeda

Jazz Artist, Innovator, Composer, Trombonist, Conch Shells, Educator, Producer

William Cepeda is a cultural icon of Puerto Rico. The four-time Grammy nominated artist and composer is a member of the world-renowned Cepeda Family, one of Puerto Rico’s most distinguished Afro-Puerto Rican folkloric Ensembles.

Cepeda’s music career began at the age of ten playing percussion in his hometown, Loíza, the heart of “little Africa” in Puerto Rico. As a teenager, he picked up the trombone, which became his instrument of choice. Also, it was then that he began playing professionally.

William Cepeda

A protégé of Dizzy Gillespie, William Cepeda was a member of the United Nation Orchestra, Cepeda and has traveled the world and performed with many jazz and Latin artists, which include: Lester Bowie and his Brass Fantasy, David Murray, James Moody, Steve Turre, Bobby Watson, Miriam Makeba, and Slide Hampton & The Jazz Masters. Also, he is equally well-known in the Latin music scene and has performed with such legendary figures such as Tito Puente, Paquito D’Rivera, Arturo Sandoval, Eddie Palmieri, Celia Cruz, Marc Anthony, Rubén Blades, Oscar D’ Leon, and Chucho Valdés.

From 1980 to 1990 he studied jazz composition and arranging at the Berklee College of Music (Boston). Also, he started composing and experimenting with Puerto Rican traditional music and mixing it with jazz, blues and, funk. At the time, recordings that combined traditional Puerto Rican music with jazz were nonexistent, so Cepeda was not aware that he created a new style of Afro-Puerto Rican jazz. In 1991, he formed a group to interpret the music. Also, he spent one year rehearsing and sharing his concept with the group.

Cepeda’s musical influences include artists such as Dizzy Gillespie, Miriam Makeba, Miles Davis, Fela Kuti, Charles Mingus, and Lester Bowie among others. For over three decades his ensemble has toured the world, performing in prestigious jazz and world music festivals such as Montreux, NorthSea and Tabarka, as well as performing arts venues and clubs.

In addition to jazz and world music, Cepeda’s oeuvre includes contemporary classical music such as Bomba Sinfónica, a full-length orchestral work that mixes contemporary classical music with traditional folkloric Afro-Puerto Rican rhythms and sounds for a symphony, opera, choir, and soloists.

Cepeda has been composing music for many different kinds of groupings, including chamber ensembles, big bands, and symphonic orchestras. Also, he has developed artistic collaborations with dance companies, theater and film scoring. His publications include the four-volume encyclopedia titled, The Music of Puerto Rico: Roots and Evolution. The project consists of performance, and educational components, workshops, and master classes) and introduces Puerto Rico’s musical heritage to a wide audience and documents four genres (Bomba, Plena, Danza, and Música Jíbara) through concerts and other activities such as DVDs, CDs, and curricula for educational and commercial release. These recordings are being used across a wide variety of primary, post-secondary and university level educational institutions across Puerto Rico and Latin America.

William Cepeda

William Cepeda created Casabe Records in 1997 to celebrate and document Puerto Rican music and professionally record and produce legendary Puerto Rican folk artists and ensembles such as Los Hermanos Ayala, Don Felix Alduen, Angel Luis Torruella, and Grupo Esencia. Also, his productions have been released on the Blue Jackel label – Grupo Afro-Boricua (“Bombazo”) and William Cepeda Afro-Rican Jazz (“My Roots & Beyond” and “Branching Out”). William Cepeda Afro-Jazz, produced with Casabe records Live at Montreux Jazz Festival, Bomba Jazz, Plena Jazz, Jibaro Jazz, Danza jazz and William Cepeda International Quintet, Únete – Casabe Records.

Cepeda’s formal musical education includes two Bachelor of Art degrees; one in jazz composition and arranging from Berklee College of Music and another in Music education from the Conservatory of Music in Puerto Rico. He was awarded a full scholarship to the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College in New York, where he received a Masters degree in Jazz performance, and studied composition and improvisation with Donald Byrd, Jimmy Heath, and Slide Hampton. Cepeda has taught at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, and the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico. He also conducts seminars and workshops as well as private lessons.

He was bestowed an Honorary Doctorate from the Berklee College of Music in 2013 as well as having had the 2013 Puerto Rico Heineken Jazz Festival dedicated in his honor. He has been widely credited as having innovated a unique sub-genre of Jazz known as Afro-Rican Jazz.

For the last six years, Cepeda has been a Professor and Artistic Composer at the University of Puerto Rico. Also, he has been invited to serve as a composer and artist-in-residence at many distinguished institutions. Cepeda continues to compose, develop new projects and seek new opportunities.

Latin Jazz Network is a project dedicated to the advancement of Latin jazz and its creators. Since 2000 LJN has been spreading the word about this wonderful music known under the umbrella term: LATIN JAZZ.

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Artist Profiles

Artist Profile: Adrien Brandeis

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Pianist, composer, Adrien Brandeis
Jazz pianist and composer, Adrien Brandeis

Adrien Brandeis is a french jazz pianist and composer born in Annecy. After studying at the Nice conservatory, he moved to Paris in 2018 to study with Manuel Rocheman and graduated from the CRR conservatory in Paris.

In 2017, he produced and released his first album in quintet Euforia, which had great recognition and international success after performing in Asia (Jazzmandu Festival in Nepal, Kolkata International Jazz Festival in India).

Euforia put Adrien Brandeis, in the spotlight of the Jazz scene, and led him to be awarded the prestigious Letter One Rising Stars Jazz Award 2018. This award, which recognizes the best young European jazz artist of the year, opened the doors for him to share his music on the biggest European stages during the summer of 2019: Nice Jazz Festival (France), Umbria Jazz Festival (Italy), Leopolis Jazz Festival (Ukraine), Love Supreme Jazz Festival (England), Heineken Jazzaldia Festival (Spain), Kongsberg Jazz Festival (Norway), JazzOpen Stuttgart (Germany).

Adrien Brandeis: Euforia
Adrien Brandeis: Euforia

Subsequently, he toured Mexico to present Euforia in trio, at the International Jazz and Blues Festival of Zacatecas 2019 and in several theaters in the center of the country.

On the French scene, he has won numerous awards: first prize at the Jazz à Juan 2017, public prize at the Jazz 2017 in Porquerolles, among others.

In Paris, he has collaborated with numerous musicians such as Orlando Poleo, Inor Sotolongo, Damian Nueva, Arnaud Dolmen, Abraham Mansfaroll, Felipe Cabrera and Philippe Ciminato.

Very attached to Latin music, he went to study in Havana, Cuba, with Ernán López-Nussa to perfect his piano skills, in September 2019.

These trips and experiences enriched his piano playing and allowed him to write his second album Meetings, a quartet album with Damian Nueva, Arnaud Dolmen, Inor Sotolongo and special guest Orlando Poleo.

Adrien Brandeis featuring Orlando Poleo: Meetings
Adrien Brandeis featuring Orlando Poleo: Meetings

Meetings, released in October 2020, allows him to move towards a more modern sound while maintaining a certain freshness. It was selected as one of the best jazz albums in France in 2020 by TSF Jazz radio.

In 2021, Meetings is presented more than 30 times; including festivals and clubs in France (Altitude Jazz Festival, Festival Jazz en Sol Mineur, Festival Musique en Cour, Duc des Lombards) as well as in Mexico (Festival Internacional de Polanco, Festival Internacional de Irapuato, Ciclo de Jazz del Forum Cultural Guanajuato, Festival EuroJazz, Festival Cultural de Mayo in Jalisco).

After two tours in Mexico in May and November 2021, where he was very well received by the Mexican public, he created a strong bond with this country and was fascinated by its culture and the places he visited.

It is then, that he decided to record his third album Siempre más allá, a testimony of his experiences and his personal tribute to Mexico.

Adrien Brandeis: Siempre Más Allá
Adrien Brandeis: Siempre Más Allá

This album was recorded as a quartet, with the musicians with whom he had shared the stage a few months before: Giliard Lopes (Brazil), José Loria Triay (Mexico) and Roberto Vizcaíno Jr. (Cuba).

Roberto Jr. Vizcaino, Adrien Brandeis, Roberto Vizcaino Guillot, Giliard Lopes, Pepe Triay - Photo: Nayeli Mejia.
Roberto Jr. Vizcaíno, Adrien Brandeis, Roberto Vizcaíno Guillot, Giliard Lopes, Pepe Triay – Photo: Nayeli Mejia.

He also had the collaboration of two great Cuban musicians of the international jazz scene: Horacio “El Negro” Hernández and Roberto Vizcaíno Guillot.

In the summer of 2022, he had outstanding participations in the A to jazz Festival (Bulgaria), Jazz à Toulon (France) as well as a special invitation to the San Jose Summer Jazz Festival (USA). He even had the opportunity to arrange and present his music in Piano Solo in Portugal and England.

YouTube Video – Adrien Brandeis – Siempre más allá (EPK)

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