Ignacio Berroa – The International Star Drummer

Ignacia Berroa was born on July 8, 1953, in Havana, Cuba. He is a Grammy Award winner and an international drum star known to many for his drumming skills. Berroa has contributed largely to the music industry in all the years he has been a drummer. This has earned him a top spot in the select group of artists who have impacted the industry in the 20th century.

There are very few drummers who have earned respect and compliments from other top drummers – and Ignacio Berroa is one of them.  When jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie was asked to talk about Berroa, he said Berroa is …” the only Latin drummer in the world, American music history that understands both worlds deeply; his Afro-Cuban roots as well as jazz….”

Indeed, Berroa is a versatile drummer who has kept on learning new skills to improve his drumming. It is no wonder that he has captured the attention of many great artists. He has high respect from many of his peers. His musicality and versatility are the foundation on which his career stands. Achieving the recognition of the most important artists in the world gives him a great chance to fulfill his dreams.

Berroa’s father was a classical violinist. He started off his music life and education by learning the instrument. He started pursuing that line passionately from age 11 when he took his first drum lesson. Then one day, he heard Nat King Cole and Glenn Miller perform on their albums, and that is when life changed for him. It sparked something inside of him, and he wanted to play it.

The drummer joined the National School of Art for his studies before moving to Havana’s National Conservancy. By 1970, Berroa was ready to start his professional drumming, becoming the most sought-after drummer in Cubby 1975. Dizzy sent an official invitation to Berroa to his quartet.  He later became a central member of the group, and other bands Gillespie formed that decade. 

Some of the teams he worked with include The Dizzy Gillespie’s 70th Anniversary Big Band and United Nations Orchestra. Berroa is a talented and focused performer whose contributions to the music industry are not limited to the stage. He is an educator who started making a mark when he became an Adjunct Faculty Instructor at Florida International University between ’91 and ’95.  

He released “Mastering The Art of Afro-Cuban Drumming” in 1995, a video that would help many who wanted to learn about the genre. He is also an author, recently publishing his book titled “Groovin’ In Clave.”  The book is distributed by Carl Fischer and is an excellent tool for those who want to learn independence, Afro-Cuban music, and many other styles.

Ignacio Berroa Performing
ignacio berroa performing

Apart from these achievements, the drummer has done clinics and master classes across the globe. He has recorded and performed with a wide range of musicians, including McCoy Tyner, Freddie Hubbard, Wynton Marsalis, Jacky Mc Lean, Clark Terry, James Moody, Joe Faddis, Jack Bruce, Gal Costa, Ivan Lins, Lincoln Center Orchestra, and BBC Big Band.

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Written by Andrea

Andrea is a music lover and an experienced drummer with more than 15 years of drumming with different bands and music projects, such as Seditius and Hermano & the Marines.

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