Cuban-born percussionist Pedrito Martinez is an acclaimed musician who plays a dynamic mix of traditional Cuban rumba, Afro-Latin jazz, and Spanish flamenco music.
Martinez initially grabbed attention after moving to New York in the late '90s and playing with the Yerba Buena collective, Claudia Acuña, Mark Weinstein, and others. He has also won praise for his solo work, including garnering a Grammy nomination for 2013's Pedrito Martinez Group.
Born in Havana in 1973, Martinez began performing professionally before his teens with such local legends as percussionist Tata Güines, as well as the folkloric ensemble Los Muñequitos de Matanzas. In 1998, his involvement with saxophonist Jane Bunnett's Spirit of Havana ensemble found him traveling to Canada, where he remained. That same year, he moved to New York, and quickly established himself as a world-class percussionist. In 2000, he took first place in the inaugural Afro-Latin Hand Drumming portion of the Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition. He has also worked with such artists as Claudia Acuña, Mark Weinstein, Eliane Elias, Paquito d'Rivera, Steve Turre, Brian Lynch, and others. In addition, Martinez has released two albums with the Afro-Cuban/Afro-beat band Yerba Buena. As a leader, Martinez issued Rumba de la Isla and the self-titled Pedrito Martinez Group albums in 2013. Both were widely acclaimed by critics. The latter, produced by Steve Gadd, made numerous publications' year-end lists and was nominated for a Grammy.
After American President Barack Obama announced a normalization of U.S. relations with Cuba in 2014, Martinez was enthusiastic to record in his homeland. Taking his band to the island nation, they collaborated with a wide variety of guests at the historic Egrem Studio in Havana. The session included Cuban singers Descemer Bueno and Issac Delgado, and rapper Telmary Diaz, as well as Ruben Blades, Wynton Marsalis, and Angelique Kidjo. Habana Dreams was released in June 2016 and entered the Latin and Jazz digital charts inside the Top Five. In 2019, Martinez paired with Cuban pianist Alfredo Rodríguez for the duo album Duologue. ~ Matt Collar, Rovi